Partnership Agencies in British Urban Policy

Partnership Agencies in British Urban Policy

Partnership Agencies in British Urban Policy

Partnership Agencies in British Urban Policy

Synopsis

This book is intended for students, researchers and libraries in planning and urban development studies; also professional planners and development officers in government, local and central, and property development professionals in surveying and property finance.

Excerpt

Partnership has always been a concept associated with the inner cities and urban regeneration. It has been dismissed as “containing a high level of ambiguity” (Mackintosh 1992:210) and “a meaningless concept” (Lawless 1991:10) because of its application to a wide variety of policy initiatives by both advocates and critics. As Lawless rightly notes, “There is no legal definition of partnership, nor is there anything we can call the “typical” partnership (ibid.). Yet increasingly, the term is seen not only as an essential adjunct of policy but as the most important foundation of the government's strategy towards urban areas. It may not be overstating the case to say that there is now a broad consensus among the main political parties and practitioners that claims that partnership is now the only basis on which successful urban regeneration can be achieved. The extent of this transformation is indicated in the recent review of urban policy sponsored by the Department of the Environment (DoE), which puts the need to encourage long-term collaborative partnerships at the head of five policy conclusions (Robson et al. 1994:xiv). As we argue in the text, the reasons for the promotion of partnership to the top of the political agenda have much to do with the economic restructuring of local economies and deep-seated changes in the machinery of government at both local and national levels.

This book sets out to chart the origins and evolution of the concept throughout the past two and half decades of urban policy. Despite a long history of relatively close working relationships between public and private sectors (for example in the planning and construction of the new towns), the idea of partnership emerged in the late 1970s as part of an attempt to improve the co-ordination and delivery of central and local government services. From the 1980s onwards the incoming Conservative Government saw it as a means of transferring responsibility for urban regeneration to the private sector. More recently, policy has favoured closer collaboration between all local interests through initiatives such as City Challenge and the Single Regeneration Budget, in conjunction with a growing political accommodation between central and local government.

For the purposes of this book we have defined a partnership as a coalition of interests drawn from more than one sector in order to prepare and oversee an agreed strategy for the regeneration of a defined area. We use the term “partnership” throughout because it is used most frequently by government and practi-

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