chapter  11
19 Pages


The development of spatial planning is an international phenomenon (OECD 2001). At the international level, spatial planning remains a generic and slippery term which is relational in its local definition and application. Yet everywhere, spatial planning is understood as something that is more than land-use planning and that is integrated with other policies to deliver interventions within and between different spatial scales. This book has concentrated primarily on spatial planning at the local scale because this is a particularly strong feature of English spatial planning. In other parts of the UK, spatial planning is more dominant and developed at other scales. In this chapter, there is a focus on spatial planning in Europe, the United States and Australia. The purpose of this is to provide the context for the English system of spatial planning, to demonstrate some of its antecedents and to indentify any potential trends for the future in spatial planning policy and practice. Spatial planning is a dynamic activity that seeks out approaches and solutions to the challenges that it confronts from a variety of locations. The business of reviewing spatial planning approaches and practices in other countries is immediately beset by issues of comparing approaches within different cultures (Friedmann 2005; Sanyal 2005). Comparative studies can focus on different aspects of national planning systems and then consider differences and similarities within them. This is an ‘input’ method. It is also possible to consider if there are comparable outcomes from spatial planning. Does spatial planning in different countries deliver similar outcomes although through different culturally bound means? This second approach is more likely to be used in Europe. The overarching spatial planning framework in Europe creates similarities in individual spatial planning systems, albeit that they operate within different governmental traditions. In Europe, regions are also a predominant governance scale, whilst at the local level, local authorities are more likely to have legal autonomy than in England. This chapter identifies some of the European spatial planning commonalities and how these are influencing the English system, both now and as it continues to develop in the future. One of the conclusions of this discussion is that English spatial planning lies centrally in the heart of European approaches. Beyond Europe, there are also frameworks that bind together approaches to spatial planning and delivery. These come through organisations such as the OECD

which has taken an interest in spatial planning as part of its economic localism agenda (OECD 2001). There are also strands of policy from other institutions such as the World Bank. Governments are hungry for new policy ideas, particularly if these have worked in other cultures (Cabinet Office Strategy Unit 2009). Governments are less concerned about the cultural provenance of successful initiatives and have more interest in the type of mechanism they may represent. They continue to search for approaches that can be transplanted or translated, albeit approximately. For English spatial planning, the dominant influences outside Europe have been from the United States and Australia. The combination of these European, American and Australian influences on frameworks and approaches leads to an essentially hybrid system of spatial planning in England. The extent of these influences may reflect a significant turn in the development of spatial planning in England; there has been an expectation of influencing international planning practice rather than drawing from it. There has been some discussion about how far this new approach to spatial planning represents a paradigm shift from earlier English planning practice (Sanyal 2005; Shaw and Lord 2007; Morphet 2009b). Taylor (1999), for example, argues that there is no paradigm shift but rather that there are a number of potential elements of English spatial planning which suggest that its new approach represents a significant break with immediate past practice. The paradigm shift may not be in the context of spatial planning (Sanyal 2005) but rather in its process (Morphet 2009b). The ‘communicative turn’ in planning is much spoken of where planners have advocated a more deliberative approach to planning (Healey 2006). In contrast to this model, there is a spatial planning reality (Newman 2009) set by legislation and developed through practice. As Booth suggests (2005; 2009), it is the interconnection between the system, set within its cultural context and the influences on it, from whatever quarter, that creates the process that is in use. It is this approach to English spatial planning, influenced by Europe, the United States and Australia, that this chapter will focus on.