Urban Planning and the British New Right

By Philip Allmendinger; Huw Thomas | Go to book overview
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Philip AllmendingerandHuw ThomasIntroductionEven before this book was published it was clear that the idea of the 1980s’ witnessing the death of planning was wide of the mark. The rhetoric of the time was confrontational, the ideology and ideas appeared antagonistic and some of the actions seemed to herald a new kind of non-plan. But planning survived. Since 1990 we have had the ‘plan-led’ system as well as commitments to concepts such as sustainability which rightly place land-use planning centre-stage. However, even this ‘renaissance’ has been a double-edged sword (of which more later). So, two prime ministers on since Mrs Thatcher first came to power in 1979, are the intentions and actions of the New Right no more than a historically interesting but insignificant story? We feel not. This book is not simply about the New Right approach to planning and why that approach turned out differently than expected (though that in itself would justify any interest). The wider picture that the contributory chapters have aimed to portray is the nature of planning practice in the UK in its political and administrative diversity. The New Right provides a useful though not crucial perspective. What made its programme particularly illuminating was the stridency of approach coupled with the eschewing of compromise and consensus. However, a similar though less conclusive picture could have been expected of other governments in similar positions: the Tories merely shone a particularly bright light on planning as well as on themselves. So, we can learn as much about planning and its context as about the New Right and its approach to policy and implementation. This is particularly important given the recent change of government—with no experience of power since 1979 the Labour Party need to recognise limits to change. What we aim to do in this chapter therefore is to examine the New Right from a multi-faceted perspective:
1 What were the impact and influence of New Right approaches to planning locally (and by implication nationally)?


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Urban Planning and the British New Right


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