Urban and Regional Planning
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Urban and Regional Planning

Peter Hall, Mark Tewdwr-Jones

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Urban and Regional Planning

Peter Hall, Mark Tewdwr-Jones

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About This Book

This is the sixth edition of the classic text for students of geography and urban and regional planning. It gives an historical overview of the changes in cities and regions and in the development of the theory and practice of planning throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.

The extensively revised edition now incorporates new material on European issues, as well as updated country-specific sections and the impact of recession. Specific references are made to the most important British developments in recent times, including new towns, neo-liberalism, the devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and to cities and combined authorities, the role of infrastructure and high-speed rail, the impact of austerity, neighbourhood planning, Brexit and the continual story of the north–south divide. A chapter on United States planning discusses the continuing trends of urban dispersal and social polarisation, the treatment of climate change, the rise of edge cities and the decline of rustbelt cities, as well as initiatives in new urbanism, land use planning and transportation policies. Finally, the book looks to discuss the main issues that are likely to impact on future forms of planning in the 2020s, including digitisation, automation, sustainability and social polarisation.

Urban and Regional Planning

will be invaluable to undergraduate as well as postgraduate Planning students. It will prove useful in a variety of built environment areas such as Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Urban Design, Real Estate, where planning is taught.

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Information

Publisher
Routledge
Year
2019
ISBN
9781351261869

1
Planning, planners and plans

Planning, the subject matter of this book, is an extremely ambiguous and difficult word to define. Planners of all kinds think that they know what it means; it refers to the work they do. The difficulty is that they do all sorts of different things, and so they mean different things by the word; planning seems to be all things to all people. We need to start by defining what exactly we are discussing.
The reference in the dictionary gives one clue to the confusion. Whether you go to the Oxford English Dictionary or the American Webster, there you find that the noun ‘plan’ and the verb ‘to plan’ have several distinct meanings. In particular, the noun can either mean ‘a physical representation of something’ – as for instance a drawing or a map; or it can mean ‘a method for doing something’; or ‘an orderly arrangement of parts of an objective’. The first meaning, in particular, is quite different from the others: when we talk about a street ‘plan’ of London or New York, we mean something quite different from when we talk about our ‘plan’ to visit London or New York next year. But there is one definition that combines the others and blurs the distinction, as when we talk about a ‘plan’ for a new building. This is simultaneously a physical design of that building as it is intended to be, and a guide to realizing our intention to build it. And it is here that the real ambiguity arises.
The verb ‘to plan’, and the nouns ‘planning’ and ‘planner’, that are derived from it, have in fact only the second, general group of meanings: they do not refer to the art of drawing up a physical plan or design on paper. They can mean either ‘to arrange the parts of’, or ‘to realize the achievement of’, or, more vaguely, ‘to intend’. The most common meaning of ‘planning’ involves both the first two of these elements: planning is concerned with deliberately achieving some objective, and it proceeds by assembling actions into some orderly sequence. One dictionary definition, in fact, refers to what planning does; the other, to how planning does it.
The trouble arises because, although people realize that planning has this more general meaning, they tend to remember the idea of the plan as a physical representation or design. Thus they imagine that planning must include the preparation of such a design. Now it is true that many types of planning might require a physical design, or might benefit from having one: planning often is used in the production of physical objects, such as cars or aeroplanes or buildings or whole towns, and in these cases a blueprint of the desired product will certainly be needed. But many other types of planning, though they will almost certainly require the production of many symbols on pieces of paper, in the form of words or diagrams, may never involve the production of a single exact physical representation of the entity which is being produced. In more recent years, as planning has changed compared to its origins, a plan may even become an online platform, or a digital urban and regional vision, or a collaborative project.
For instance, the word ‘planning’ is today applied to many different human activities – in fact, virtually all human activities. One almost certainly needs a plan to make war; diplomats make contingency plans to keep the peace. We talk about educational planning: that does not mean that every detail of every class has to be planned by some bureaucracy (as happens, by repute, in France), but merely that advance planning is necessary if students are to find classrooms and libraries and teachers when they arrive at a certain age and seek a certain sort of education. We talk about planning the economy to minimise the swings of growth and recession, and reduce the misery of unemployment or austerity or the local impacts of global economic shifts; we hear about a housing plan and a social-services plan. Business now plans on a colossal scale: the production of a new model of a car, or a personal computer, has to be worked out long in advance of its appearance in the shops. And all this is true, whatever the nature of the economic system. Whether labelled free enterprise or social democratic or socialist, no society on earth today provides goods and services for its people, or schools and colleges for its children, without planning. In fact, so routinely do we organize and prepare ourselves for some future activity or event that we may not consciously believe we are planning at all. There have been times over the last century when some individuals might have regretted performing any activity called planning at all; they wish for what is often referred to as a simpler age, when perhaps things happened without forethought, or even a plan-free age, where individuals undertake activities on a pragmatic and incremental basis and deal with the consequences of their actions as they occur, irrespective of impact; those calls for simpler or plan-free ages continue to exist and seem to be in the ascendancy in some nations as we progress through the twenty-first century, according to political and ideological taste. Perhaps it is this, more than any other aspect of change, that has become the enduring hallmark surrounding urban and regional planning: a constant debate as to the merits of performing planning activity and who, if anyone, should have the right to do so.
The reason for employing an activity called planning is the fact of life everybody knows: that modern society is immeasurably more complex, technically and socially, than previous societies. Centuries ago, when education involved the simple repetition of a few well-understood rules which were taught to all, and when books were non-existent, the setting up of a school did not involve much elaborate planning or the training of specialized teachers. The stages of production were simpler; wood was cut in the forest, people wrought it locally into tools, the tools were used by their neighbours, all without much forethought. But today, without elaborate planning, the complex fabric of our material civilisation would begin to crack up: supplies of foodstuffs would disappear, essential water and power supplies would fail, epidemics would rapidly break out. We see these things happening all too readily, after natural or human disasters like earthquakes or wars or unforeseen economic downturns. Though some of us may decide to try to opt out of technological civilisation or social media for a few days, months or even years, the prospect does not seem likely to appeal to twenty-first-century citizens in both the affluent and globalizing worlds. Those in the less affluent world, in particular, are in much less doubt that they want the security and dignity that planning can bring.
The point is that the sorts of planning which we have been discussing above either may not require physical plans at all, in the sense of scale blueprints of physical objects, or may require them only occasionally or incidentally. It is more likely to consist, for the most part, of written statements of intent accompanied by some justification and evidence, usually in the form of tables or figures, or sometimes through urban modelling based on mathematical formulae, or though diagrams and visualizations, or all these things. The emphasis throughout is on tracing an orderly sequence of events that will achieve a predetermined goal. But even here, in a modern world where politicians seem ripe on questioning demonstrable evidence, expert opinion or even facts (and, conversely, promulgate what is sometimes referred to as fake news or fake facts), the very essence of planning – founded on rational debate and intelligence – is seeing its foundations being shaken increasingly.
Consider educational planning as an example. The goal has first to be fixed. It may be given externally, as a situation which has to be met: to provide education which will meet the expected demands ten years hence. Or there may be a more positive, active goal: to double the numbers of scientists or technologists graduating from the universities, for instance. Whatever the aim, the first step will be a careful projection that leads from the present to the future target date, year by year. It will show the number of students in schools and colleges and the courses that will be needed to meet whatever objective is stated. From this, the implications will be traced in terms of buildings, teachers and materials. There may need to be a crash school-building programme using quickly assembled prefabricated components; a new or a supplementary teacher-training programme, or an attempt to attract people from other professions into teaching; a new series of textbooks or experiments in online web-based learning, all of which in turn will take time to set in motion and produce results. At critical points in the process, alternatives will be faced. Would it be more economical, or more effective, to increase teacher supply or concentrate on a greater supply of teaching material through the internet? Could better use be made of existing buildings by better overall coordination, rather than by putting up new buildings? Ways will need to be found of evaluating these choices. Then, throughout the lifetime of the programme, ways will need to be found of monitoring progress very closely to take account of unexpected failures or divergences from the plan or changes in the situation. In the whole of this complex sequence the only scale models may be the designs of the new schools or of the ICT (information and communication technologies) system and a few other details – a small part of the whole, and one which comes at a late stage in the process, when the broad outlines of the programme are determined.
To summarize, then: planning as a general activity is the making of an orderly sequence of action that will lead to the achievement of a stated goal or goals. Historically, its main techniques have been written statements, perhaps with a medium- to long-term horizon, supplemented as appropriate by visual representations, statistical projections, trend analysis, quantified evaluations and diagrams illustrating relationships between different parts of the plan. These comprise a suite of planning methods, but planning may, although need not necessarily, include exact physical blueprints of objects. One issue to consider before we move forward is that forms of planning will always be needed even if individuals, societies or governments sometimes turn away from formal planning activity.

The application to urban and regional planning

The difficulty now comes when we try to apply this description to the particular sort of planning that is the subject matter of this book: urban and regional planning (or, as it is often still called in the UK legal system at least, town and country planning). In many advanced economies, such as Britain, the United States, Germany or Japan, the phrase ‘urban planning’ or ‘town planning’ is strictly a tautology: since a great majority of the population are classed in the statistics as urban and live in places defined as urban, ‘town planning’ seems simply to mean any sort of planning whatsoever. In fact, as is well known, ‘urban’ planning conventionally means something more limited and precise: it refers to planning with a spatial, or geographical, component, in which the general objective is to provide for a spatial structure of activities (or of land uses) which in some way is better than the pattern existing without planning. Such planning is also known as ‘physical’ planning; ‘spatial’ planning is perhaps a more neutral and more precise term and has been used intermittently alongside urban and regional planning and town planning periodically.
If such planning has a spatial component, then clearly it only makes sense if it culminates in a spatial representation. Whether this is a very precise and detailed map, or the most general schematic diagram, it is to some degree a ‘plan’ in the first, more precise meaning of the term. In other words, it seems that urban planning (or regional planning) is a special case of general planning, which can include the plan-making, or representational, component.
Broadly, in practice this does prove to be the case. It is simply impossible to think of this type of planning without some spatial representation – without a map or visualization, in other words. And whatever the precise organizational sequence of such planning, in practice it does tend to proceed from very general (and rather diagrammatic) maps or schematics to very precise ones, or blueprints. For the final output of such a process is the act of physical development (or, in some cases, the decision not to develop, but to leave the land as it is). And physical development, in the form of buildings, will require an exact design.
A great deal of discussion and controversy in recent years tends to have obscured this fact. In most countries spatial or urban planning as practised for many years – both before the Second World War and after it – was very minute and detailed: the output tended to consist of very precise large-scale maps showing the exact disposition of all land uses and activities and proposed developments. During the 1960s, the 1980s, and the 2010s, whenever planning has adopted such detailed plans, they have been attacked by people opposing the idea of having a plan: planning, it has been argued, needs to concentrate much more on the broad principles rather than on details; it should stress the process, or time sequence, by which the goal was to be reached, rather than present the desired end-state in detail; it should start from a highly generalized and diagrammatic picture of the spatial distributions at any point of time only filling in the details as they needed to be filled in, bit by bit. This, as we shall see later, is the essential difference in Britain between the form that planning has taken historically, as it has ebbed and flowed between the strategic and detailed, and the local and basic, according to government taste and even planning fashion. Urban and regional planning has never been a static activity, even within one individual nation, nor should it be if it is going to address ongoing sets of problems affecting places. In the UK, for example, the Town and Country Planning Act of 1947 detailed planning provisions were replaced under the Town and Country Planning Act of 1968; the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act of 2004 strategic spatial planning provisions were replaced by the more localized Localism Act of 2011. New times require new forms of urban and regional planning, and so planning changes.
The central point, though, is that this type of planning is still essentially spatial – whatever the scale and whatever the sequence. It is concerned with the spatial impact of many different kinds of problem, and with the spatial coordination of many different policies. Economists, for instance, are concerned with the broad progress of the economy, usually at national and sometimes at international level: they look at the evolving structure of the economy, in terms of business sectors and occupations, at the combination of the factors of growth which brings forth the flow of goods and services, at the income thus generated and its reconversion into factors of production, and at problems of exchange. Those countries with federal or regional governance will have regional economic planners looking at the same things, but always from the point of view of their particular spatial impact: they consider the effect of the variable, geographical space and distance, on these phenomena. Similarly social planners will be concerned with the needs of the individual and the group; they will be concerned with the changing social structure of the population, with occupational mobility, inclusiveness and exclusion, and its effect on lifestyles and housing patterns, with household and family structure in relation to factors like health and well-being, age, demography, and occupation and educational background with household income and its variation, with social and psychological factors which lead to individual or family changes. Those concerned with the social aspects of urban planning share the same interests and concerns, but see them always with the spatial component: he or she is concerned, for instance, with the effect of occupational mobility on the inner city – as against the new suburb – on changing household structure as it affects the housing market near the centre of the city, on household income in relation to items like travel cost for the low-income family whose available employment may be migrating to the suburbs.
The relationship between urban and regional planning and the various types of specialized planning, in these examples, is interestingly like the relationship of geography, as an academic subject, to other related social sciences. For geography also has a number of different faces, each of which stresses the spatial relationship in one of these related sciences: economic geography analyses the effect of geographic space and distance on the mechanisms of production, consumption and exchange; social geography similarly examines the spatial impact upon patterns of social relationship; political geography looks at the effect of location upon political actions. One can argue from this that spatial planning, or urban and regional planning, is essentially human geography in these various aspects, harnessed or applied to the positive task of action to achieve a specific objective. The difference between geography and planning can be described, flippantly perhaps, in a single contestable sentence: geographers analyse, and planners do. A good planner should harness both sets of skills, while developing a deep understanding of politics, economics, and history.
Many teachers in planning schools would hotly deny this. They would argue that planning, as they teach it, necessarily includes many aspects that are not commonly taught in geography curricula – even those that stress the applications of the subject. The law relating to the land is one of these; civil engineering is another; civic design is another. This is true, though many would argue – both inside the planning schools, and out – that not all these elements are necessary to the planning curriculum. What does seem true is that the central body of social sciences which relate to geography, and whose spatial aspects are taught as parts of human geography – economics, sociology, politics and anthropology – does form the core of the subject matter of urban and regional planning. By ‘subject matter’ we mean that which is actually planned and those it affects. It is, however, arguable that there is another important element in planning education, not covered in this body of social science: that is the study of the process of planning itself, the way we assume control over physical and human matter, and process it adopts to serve defined ends. According to this distinction ‘planning method’ would be what is common to the education of all kinds of planners – whether educational, economic, military or any other; geography and its related social sciences would constitute the peculiar subject matter of that particular division of planning called urban and regional.

‘Planning’ as an activity

What then would this core of planning education – the study of planning process – comprise? This is a basic question, which after 100 years ought to be the subject of continual intense debate in schools of planning. But curiously, historically, for a long time it was avoided – the reason being, apparently, that planning education was seen as education in making physical plans, not education in planning method. The first people to raise the question seriously were not teachers of physical planning, but teachers of industrial or corporate planning, in the American business schools. There, down to about 1945, education in management was usually based on a rather narrow spectrum of skills in applied engineering and accounting; the aim was to obtain maximum efficiency in plant operation, both in an engineering sense and in an accounting sense, and little attention was given to the problems of decision-taking in complex situations. But during the 1950s, p...

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