Australian Urban Planning: New Challenges, New Agendas

By Brendan Gleeson; Nicholas Low | Go to book overview

12
Better planning: from policy to
action

Planning is a public function. Its purpose is to promote a more convenient, attractive and equitable pattern of development than the kind of development produced through unregulated markets.

Peter Self (1998: 45, original emphasis)

Values are the basis of action. But they do not directly tell us how to act, how to plan for a democratic and sustainable society. We must compare what we value against what we have, and make decisions—often involving difficult trade-offs—about what actions are necessary to get us nearer to where we want to be. In this chapter, we outline some policy priorities that emerge from the value framework elaborated in chapter 11.

As Frank Stilwell reminds us, ‘A commitment to social progress requires the identification of appropriate prescriptions’ (Stilwell 1993a: 130). And yet no-one has complete knowledge—not even within the confines of a specific policy sphere such as Australian planning. The all-knowing analyst is as much a figure of fiction as the consumer with perfect knowledge of market information. We acknowledge the limits to what we know about planning issues and therefore the particularity of our priorities. We do not claim novelty. If planners read something in what follows that they are already doing or trying to do, or arguing for, that does not surprise us at all. We simply say ‘more strength to your arm’.

As we say in chapter 1, these proposals are intended not as a complete program for action but as a starting point for discussion. We would welcome their refinement and enlargement through deliberation and argument. This reflects the value we have already placed on planning as dialogue in chapter 11. In what follows we briefly explain

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