Regions, Spatial Strategies, and Sustainable Development

Regions, Spatial Strategies, and Sustainable Development

Regions, Spatial Strategies, and Sustainable Development

Regions, Spatial Strategies, and Sustainable Development

Synopsis

Focusing on recent regional policy and important planning debates across the English regions, this book analyzes the issues, disputes and tensions that have arisen in regional planning in the new millennium. With a range of local case studies to ground the argument in local as well as regional planning, the authors here build on a range of theoretical insights including state theory and governance, political ecology, governmentality and collaborative planning. Drawing particularly on a discourse approach, the empirical sections examine a range of major controversies from the past five years of regional planning, including:* the socio-political resistance to new housing on Greenfield sites* alternative approaches to promoting sustainable urban development and policies for urban renaissance* policies on redirecting or constraining economic expansion in high-pressure growth areas* the social and political bases of new planning technologies for protecting the environment, including sustainability appraisals.

Excerpt

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The re-emergence of the regions in spatial planning

Britain has one of the most centralised systems of government in the western world. Decisions affecting our regions are often taken far away from the people and places they will affect. But there must be real doubt whether this has led to better government.

(Cabinet Office and DTLR 2002, p. 1)

Once we were visionaries

Regional planners were once the grand visionaries of planning, attempting to create ambitious long-term plans for the future of large areas and all those who lived in them. From the high hopes and grand designs embedded in the regional planning efforts of Lewis Mumford and his Regional Planning Association of America (RPAA) colleagues in the United States in the 1920s and early 1930s, to Abercrombie's 1944 Plan for London, regional planning sought to offer large-scale solutions to large-scale problems. And though the reality rarely matched the vision of the plans (Hall 2000), from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) with its massive infrastructure projects to London new towns such as Stevenage and Harlow, major changes did emerge out of some of these efforts. Today, though, the lofty aspirations of such planning pioneers seem almost quaint, anachronistic even, in an era which often seems to value pragmatism over vision, individualism over collectivism, and the short-term over the long-term.

It can sometimes seem as if low aspirations and expectations are the norm in much that today passes for regional planning and policy - but actually the grand ambitions and lofty rhetoric still remain. They live on in planning's new-found conviction that it can make a genuine difference to the agenda for sustainable development. It lives on too in the Regional Economic Strategies still being produced, where many regions aspire to be among the 'top twenty regions' in Europe or in the world. Regional plans and strategies still aim to make a difference.

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