Academic journal article The Town Planning Review

Looking for the Optimum Relationship between Spatial Planning and Land Development

Academic journal article The Town Planning Review

Looking for the Optimum Relationship between Spatial Planning and Land Development

Article excerpt

Spatial planning provides a framework for dealing with land use, and must thus be inclusive, transparent and well-informed. It also supplies a basis for land development which aims at delivering serviced plots for all kind of functions. The current climate of negotiations between the authorities and land developers has given rise to the suspicion that planning consent can be bought and sold. There are conflicting requirements here: separation of spatial planning and land development ensures the highest level of ethical behaviour, but closer links between the two can be more effective. This article analyses the Dutch institutions that traditionally operate in the force field between spatial planning and land development and describes how the restructuring of the welfare state has led to rethinking of their function.

Introduction

Spatial quality requires the allied effort of spatial planning and land development (Korthals Altes, 2006b; 2007; Siraa et al., 1995, 29). Spatial planning includes both traditional land-use planning at an operational level and strategic spatial planning. Land development is about the production of serviced plots for specific land uses. Spatial planning and land development involve different and sometimes conflicting values. It is important that spatial planning should be inclusive, transparent (Healey, 2003) and based on proper information (Faludi, 2000). Land development on the other hand aims at getting a job done, often in close interaction with market agencies. It is current practice to finance the cost of servicing the land through the value added by the development. This can be organised in various ways, as will be explained below. The negotiations between the planning authorities and the property developers concerning the details of this financing are often shrouded in secrecy, which is not conducive to the desired transparency of the public decision-making process. The strict separation of spatial planning from land development may be a solution advocated by legal academics (Van Buuren et al., 2002) in order to ensure impartial planning without allocating development rights, presumably on land owned by the government or cooperative private owners (see Louw, 2008), and also to achieve fair dealing without putting pressure on landowners to pay development contributions, since otherwise no development rights would be allocated; it may not, however, always deliver the desired results. Hence, a conflict persists between the wish to separate the functions of spatial planning and land development and the creation of (covert) links between these two functions in the interests of spatial quality.

In countries such as England, the concept of spatial planning is a relatively new one which has recently come to be used to complement the traditional land-use planning approach in an attempt to integrate different policies that influence the nature of the physical environment (Nadin, 2007). Spatial planning is considered 'as the coordinator of different policy areas' (Gallent et al., 2008, 3) that can be used to deliver much broader outcomes. It is now quite commonly accepted that, especially in the case of large-scale projects, the developer should make a contribution to the public good over and above the development primarily intended in order to make the planning application acceptable. The precise nature of this contribution remains a matter for negotiation. Oxley (2008, 670) describes such negotiations as a 'bargaining process in which the market powers and the skills of the negotiators determine the amounts that are collected'. Many onlookers regard this set-up as a process in which planning permission can be bought and sold (see also Booth, 2003, 189), which infringes the desired integrity of the spatial planning structure.

Although planning must reflect the dynamic characteristics of a plural society and facilitate the non-linear and multilayered decision-making involved, it should not be led by market opportunities in such a way that private-sector interests prevail unduly (Tasan-Kok, 2008). …

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