Urban Planning and the British New Right

By Philip Allmendinger; Huw Thomas | Go to book overview

5

DEVELOPMENT PLANS: COPING WITH RE-REGULATION IN THE 1990S

Angela HullandGeoff Vigar

Introduction

This chapter assesses the influence of localities over development plan-making in the 1990s in the aftermath of Conservative governments’ rhetorical attack and system fine-tuning in the 1980s and early 1990s. The impact of this system ‘reorientation’ is appraised and aspects of consolidation and change under the governance of John Major are identified. Our conclusions regarding the influence of localities are primarily drawn from detailed case studies of Lancashire, West Midlands and Kent, carried out as part of research sponsored by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

We first draw out the contextual changes for planning, in terms of the legal powers and responsibilities given to different agencies, government advice to local planning authorities (LPAs) about appropriate issues to consider when devising plans, and the role of central government in monitoring local authority (LA) decisions. Broader ideological and rhetorical pronouncements by central government also influence the rationale for planning intervention in development decisions and may influence the stance of developers and third parties too. We compare the approach of Thatcher and Major administrations to the town planning service in an attempt to understand both the purpose of central government efforts to structure decision-making, and the clarity of the message received. Later in the chapter we assess local responses to central direction, concentrating on three aspects of plan-making: the driving forces of development plan production, procedural aspects, and the centralisation of policy formulation.

The development plan framework: 1979-90

Through the 1980s functions were lost by local government, budgets were cut back and even some geographical areas were removed from the aegis of

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