Town Planning Review

‘To spend is to choose’: Des McConaghy and expenditure-based planning

Town Planning Review (2019), 90, (6), 601–623.

Abstract

This article recovers the life and works of Des McConaghy (1931–2017), pioneer of expenditure-based planning for urban regeneration in the United Kingdom. Drawing on his experiences in Craigavon New Town, as director of the Shelter Neighbourhood Action Project in Liverpool, special advisor in the Department of the Environment and director of the Area Information Service, he developed an incisive critique of over-centralisation in the UK state, and proposed a novel form of two-tier fiscal programming, embedded in a local–central political framework, to drive forward concerted whole-of-government activity in targeted areas, restoring transparency and accountability to urban renewal.

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References

ASHBY, L. R. (1956), An Introduction to Cybernetics, London, Methuen. Google Scholar

BEER, S. (1975), Platform for Change, 2nd edn, New York, John Wiley. Google Scholar

BEER, S. (1979), The Heart of Enterprise, London, John Wiley. Google Scholar

BEER, S. (1982), ‘Letter to J. D. McConaghy’ (27 May), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

BEER, S. (1985), Diagnosing the System for Organisations, New York, John Wiley. Google Scholar

BERNERS-LEE, T. (1999), Weaving the Web: The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of the World Wide Web, London, HarperCollins. Google Scholar

CDP (COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PROJECT) (1977), Gilding the Ghetto: The State and the Poverty Experiments, London, The Home Office. Google Scholar

CORNFORD, J. (ed.) (1975), The Failure of the State, London, Croom Helm. Google Scholar

HAMBLETON, R. and THOMAS, H. (eds) (1995a), Urban Policy Evaluation: Challenge and Change, London, Paul Chapman Publishing. Google Scholar

HAMBLETON, R. and THOMAS, H. (1995b), ‘Urban policy evaluation: the contours of the debate’, in Hambleton and Thomas (eds), 1–20. Google Scholar

HEALD, D. and SHORT, J. (2002), ‘The regional dimension of public expenditure in England’, Regional Studies, 36, 743–55. Google Scholar

HECLO, H. and WILDAVSKY, A. (1974), The Private Government of Public Money, London, Macmillan. Google Scholar

HIGGINS, J., DEAKINS, N., EDWARDS, J. and WICKS, M. (eds) (1983), Government and Urban Poverty, Oxford, Basil Blackwell. Google Scholar

HOUSE OF COMMONS SELECT COMMITTEE ON PROCEDURE (SUPPLY) (1981), First Report, HC(1980–81), 118-I. Google Scholar

HOVERSTADT, P. (2008), The Fractal Organization: Creating Sustainable Organizations with the Viable System Model, Chichester, John Wiley. Google Scholar

LANSLEY, S., GOSS, S. and WOLMAR, C. (1989), Councils in Conflict: The Rise and Fall of the Municipalist Left, Basingstoke, Macmillan. Google Scholar

LEACH, S., HININGS, B., RANSOM, S. and SKELCHER, C. (1983), ‘Uses and abuses of policy planning systems’, Local Government Studies, 9, 23–37. Google Scholar

LIPSEY, D. (1977), ‘Letter to J. D. McConaghy’ (22 November), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

LONG, M. (2018), ‘The opposite of centralisation is democratisation, not local autonomy: the case for joint resource planning’ (submission to IPPR Commission on Economic Justice – Devolving Power to the Nations of the UK and Regions of England), http://www.academia.edu/attachments/57583807/download_file?s=portfolio (accessed 18 June 2019). Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (n.d.), ‘“Nothing like living dangerously!”’, Hand drawn graphic, Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1964), ‘Regional planning and European integration’ (unpublished MA thesis, School of Town & Country Planning, Edinburgh College of Art), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1970), ‘SNAP’ (paper read to Voluntary Housing Annual Conference, Nottingham, July), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1971a), Address to fringe meeting arranged by the Bow Group, Conservative Party Conference, 13 October, Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1971b), ‘Inner area agencies’, Official Architecture & Planning, 34, 353–56. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1971c), ‘Letter to John Benington’ (19 November), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1971d), ‘Letter to Harry Simpson’ (3 December), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1971e), ‘Letter to Melvyn Webber’ (17 October), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1972), ‘The limitations of advocacy: the need for new initiatives in urban ghettos’, Ekistics, 80, 97–100. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1973a), ‘Inter-departmental PAR, Urban Deprivation’ (DoE memo, 27 July), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1973b), ‘Management of the social environment’ (paper read to Senior Management Seminar, Civil Service College, Sunningdale, 16 February), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1974a), ‘Selective urban policies’ (DoE memo, 22 February), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1974b), ‘Selective urban policies’ (DoE memo to Wilfred Burns, 7 March), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1974c), ‘Selective urban policies’ (DoE memo to Wilfred Burns, 2 April), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1974d), ‘Some sense: CCPs etc’ (DoE memo to Wilfred Burns, 24 July), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1977), ‘Letter to Peter Walker’ (22 June), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1978a), ‘The cutting edge: expenditure-based planning’, Built Environment Quarterly, 4, 65–67. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1978b), ‘Setting up Six Towns: an urban strategy gap’, Town Planning Review, 49, 184–94. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1979), ‘Letter to David Donnison’ (26 July), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1981a), ‘The fire – now!’, Local Government News, August. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1981b), ‘Planning in the critical decade’, The Planner, 47, January. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1982a), ‘Consultation or conflict’, The Planner, 48, August. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY J. D. (1982b), ‘Letter to Bill Mackenzie’ (19 February), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1982c), ‘Letter to Hans Wiener’ (16 February), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1983), ‘Progress and programme’ (CCP 8/83, paper presented to Capital Planning Project Steering Group, 30 November), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1984), ‘Letter to Cllr Maureen Taylor’ (Cleveland County Council, 21 September), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1985a), ‘Centralisation: the common denominator in local and central plan strategies’, in RTPI (eds), Proceedings of Town & Country Planning Summer School, London, RTPI, 13–16. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1985b), ‘Letter to Margaret Thatcher’ (6 July), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1986a), ‘Letter to Jack Dyckman’ (28 July), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1986b), ‘Letter to Jack Dyckman’ (22 October), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1986c), ‘Premature retirement’ (memo to Ken Martin, Liverpool Polytechnic), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1990a), ‘Balancing act: the Heseltine interview’, Local Government News, April. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1990b), ‘German questions’, Local Government News, May. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1991), ‘Letter to Maureen Stevens’ (18 June), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1997), Submission to Office of Public Service (Comments on White Paper ‘Government-Direct’, Cm 3438), The National Archives, CAB 202/274, 6–17. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (2001), Government Resources and Accounts Bill (NIA Bill 6/00): Written Evidence for Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Finance & Personnel, 11 November 2000, in Committee for Finance & Personnel, Second Report, Session 2000–2001, 16 January, Belfast, Stationery Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D., with MILLIGAN, J., BANNERMAN, S. and STRANG, R. (1967), Second Report on the Plan: Craigavon New City, Belfast, Craigavon Development Commission (NI). Google Scholar

MADDEN, M. (1983), ‘Data storage and presentation’ (CCP 9/83, paper presented to Capital Planning Project Steering Group, 6 November), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

MARIEN, M. (1979), ‘Beware the sandbox’, Resurgence, January, 5. Google Scholar

MEDINA, E. (2011), Cybernetic Revolutionaries: Technology and Politics in Allende’s Chile, Cambridge, MA, MIT Press. Google Scholar

MHLG (MINISTRY OF HOUSING AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT) (1969), People and Planning: Report of the Committee on Public Participation in Planning, London, HMSO. Google Scholar

MILBERG, W. (2017), ‘Gerhard Colm and the Americanization of Weimar economic thought’, Social Research, 84, 989–1019. Google Scholar

NAIRN, T. (1981), The Break-Up of Britain, London, Verso. Google Scholar

PARKINSON, M. (1985), Liverpool on the Brink, Hermitage, Policy Journals. Google Scholar

PICKERING, A. (2010), The Cybernetic Brain, London, The University of Chicago Press. Google Scholar

PLOWDEN, W. (1973), ‘Letter to J. D. McConaghy’ (4 October), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

SHELTER (1972), Another Chance for Cities: SNAP 69/72, London, Shelter. Google Scholar

SHORT, J. (1978), The regional distribution of public expenditure in Great Britain, 1969/70–1973/74’, Regional Studies, 12, 499–510. Google Scholar

SMITH, G. (1973), ‘Who can drive the machinery of help?’, The Times, 1 February. Google Scholar

SSRC (1981), The Inner City in Context: The Final Report of the Social Science Research Council Inner Cities Working Party, Farnham, Ashgate. Google Scholar

THAIN, C. and WRIGHT, M. (1995), The Treasury and Whitehall: The Planning and Control of Public Expenditure 1976–1993, Oxford, Clarendon Press. Google Scholar

WALKER, P. (1972), House of Commons Debate, 23 March 1972, 833, cc. 1698–99. Google Scholar

WICKS, M. (1983), ‘The lost years’, in Higgins et al. (1983), 86–116. Google Scholar

WILSON, D. (1971), Memoirs of a Minor Public Figure, London, Quartet. Google Scholar

ASHBY, L. R. (1956), An Introduction to Cybernetics, London, Methuen. Google Scholar

BEER, S. (1975), Platform for Change, 2nd edn, New York, John Wiley. Google Scholar

BEER, S. (1979), The Heart of Enterprise, London, John Wiley. Google Scholar

BEER, S. (1982), ‘Letter to J. D. McConaghy’ (27 May), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

BEER, S. (1985), Diagnosing the System for Organisations, New York, John Wiley. Google Scholar

BERNERS-LEE, T. (1999), Weaving the Web: The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of the World Wide Web, London, HarperCollins. Google Scholar

CDP (COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PROJECT) (1977), Gilding the Ghetto: The State and the Poverty Experiments, London, The Home Office. Google Scholar

CORNFORD, J. (ed.) (1975), The Failure of the State, London, Croom Helm. Google Scholar

HAMBLETON, R. and THOMAS, H. (eds) (1995a), Urban Policy Evaluation: Challenge and Change, London, Paul Chapman Publishing. Google Scholar

HAMBLETON, R. and THOMAS, H. (1995b), ‘Urban policy evaluation: the contours of the debate’, in Hambleton and Thomas (eds), 1–20. Google Scholar

HEALD, D. and SHORT, J. (2002), ‘The regional dimension of public expenditure in England’, Regional Studies, 36, 743–55. Google Scholar

HECLO, H. and WILDAVSKY, A. (1974), The Private Government of Public Money, London, Macmillan. Google Scholar

HIGGINS, J., DEAKINS, N., EDWARDS, J. and WICKS, M. (eds) (1983), Government and Urban Poverty, Oxford, Basil Blackwell. Google Scholar

HOUSE OF COMMONS SELECT COMMITTEE ON PROCEDURE (SUPPLY) (1981), First Report, HC(1980–81), 118-I. Google Scholar

HOVERSTADT, P. (2008), The Fractal Organization: Creating Sustainable Organizations with the Viable System Model, Chichester, John Wiley. Google Scholar

LANSLEY, S., GOSS, S. and WOLMAR, C. (1989), Councils in Conflict: The Rise and Fall of the Municipalist Left, Basingstoke, Macmillan. Google Scholar

LEACH, S., HININGS, B., RANSOM, S. and SKELCHER, C. (1983), ‘Uses and abuses of policy planning systems’, Local Government Studies, 9, 23–37. Google Scholar

LIPSEY, D. (1977), ‘Letter to J. D. McConaghy’ (22 November), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

LONG, M. (2018), ‘The opposite of centralisation is democratisation, not local autonomy: the case for joint resource planning’ (submission to IPPR Commission on Economic Justice – Devolving Power to the Nations of the UK and Regions of England), http://www.academia.edu/attachments/57583807/download_file?s=portfolio (accessed 18 June 2019). Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (n.d.), ‘“Nothing like living dangerously!”’, Hand drawn graphic, Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1964), ‘Regional planning and European integration’ (unpublished MA thesis, School of Town & Country Planning, Edinburgh College of Art), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1970), ‘SNAP’ (paper read to Voluntary Housing Annual Conference, Nottingham, July), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1971a), Address to fringe meeting arranged by the Bow Group, Conservative Party Conference, 13 October, Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1971b), ‘Inner area agencies’, Official Architecture & Planning, 34, 353–56. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1971c), ‘Letter to John Benington’ (19 November), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1971d), ‘Letter to Harry Simpson’ (3 December), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1971e), ‘Letter to Melvyn Webber’ (17 October), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1972), ‘The limitations of advocacy: the need for new initiatives in urban ghettos’, Ekistics, 80, 97–100. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1973a), ‘Inter-departmental PAR, Urban Deprivation’ (DoE memo, 27 July), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1973b), ‘Management of the social environment’ (paper read to Senior Management Seminar, Civil Service College, Sunningdale, 16 February), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1974a), ‘Selective urban policies’ (DoE memo, 22 February), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1974b), ‘Selective urban policies’ (DoE memo to Wilfred Burns, 7 March), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1974c), ‘Selective urban policies’ (DoE memo to Wilfred Burns, 2 April), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1974d), ‘Some sense: CCPs etc’ (DoE memo to Wilfred Burns, 24 July), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1977), ‘Letter to Peter Walker’ (22 June), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1978a), ‘The cutting edge: expenditure-based planning’, Built Environment Quarterly, 4, 65–67. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1978b), ‘Setting up Six Towns: an urban strategy gap’, Town Planning Review, 49, 184–94. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1979), ‘Letter to David Donnison’ (26 July), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1981a), ‘The fire – now!’, Local Government News, August. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1981b), ‘Planning in the critical decade’, The Planner, 47, January. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1982a), ‘Consultation or conflict’, The Planner, 48, August. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY J. D. (1982b), ‘Letter to Bill Mackenzie’ (19 February), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1982c), ‘Letter to Hans Wiener’ (16 February), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1983), ‘Progress and programme’ (CCP 8/83, paper presented to Capital Planning Project Steering Group, 30 November), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1984), ‘Letter to Cllr Maureen Taylor’ (Cleveland County Council, 21 September), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1985a), ‘Centralisation: the common denominator in local and central plan strategies’, in RTPI (eds), Proceedings of Town & Country Planning Summer School, London, RTPI, 13–16. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1985b), ‘Letter to Margaret Thatcher’ (6 July), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1986a), ‘Letter to Jack Dyckman’ (28 July), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1986b), ‘Letter to Jack Dyckman’ (22 October), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1986c), ‘Premature retirement’ (memo to Ken Martin, Liverpool Polytechnic), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1990a), ‘Balancing act: the Heseltine interview’, Local Government News, April. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1990b), ‘German questions’, Local Government News, May. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1991), ‘Letter to Maureen Stevens’ (18 June), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (1997), Submission to Office of Public Service (Comments on White Paper ‘Government-Direct’, Cm 3438), The National Archives, CAB 202/274, 6–17. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D. (2001), Government Resources and Accounts Bill (NIA Bill 6/00): Written Evidence for Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Finance & Personnel, 11 November 2000, in Committee for Finance & Personnel, Second Report, Session 2000–2001, 16 January, Belfast, Stationery Office. Google Scholar

McCONAGHY, J. D., with MILLIGAN, J., BANNERMAN, S. and STRANG, R. (1967), Second Report on the Plan: Craigavon New City, Belfast, Craigavon Development Commission (NI). Google Scholar

MADDEN, M. (1983), ‘Data storage and presentation’ (CCP 9/83, paper presented to Capital Planning Project Steering Group, 6 November), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

MARIEN, M. (1979), ‘Beware the sandbox’, Resurgence, January, 5. Google Scholar

MEDINA, E. (2011), Cybernetic Revolutionaries: Technology and Politics in Allende’s Chile, Cambridge, MA, MIT Press. Google Scholar

MHLG (MINISTRY OF HOUSING AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT) (1969), People and Planning: Report of the Committee on Public Participation in Planning, London, HMSO. Google Scholar

MILBERG, W. (2017), ‘Gerhard Colm and the Americanization of Weimar economic thought’, Social Research, 84, 989–1019. Google Scholar

NAIRN, T. (1981), The Break-Up of Britain, London, Verso. Google Scholar

PARKINSON, M. (1985), Liverpool on the Brink, Hermitage, Policy Journals. Google Scholar

PICKERING, A. (2010), The Cybernetic Brain, London, The University of Chicago Press. Google Scholar

PLOWDEN, W. (1973), ‘Letter to J. D. McConaghy’ (4 October), Liverpool, City Record Office. Google Scholar

SHELTER (1972), Another Chance for Cities: SNAP 69/72, London, Shelter. Google Scholar

SHORT, J. (1978), The regional distribution of public expenditure in Great Britain, 1969/70–1973/74’, Regional Studies, 12, 499–510. Google Scholar

SMITH, G. (1973), ‘Who can drive the machinery of help?’, The Times, 1 February. Google Scholar

SSRC (1981), The Inner City in Context: The Final Report of the Social Science Research Council Inner Cities Working Party, Farnham, Ashgate. Google Scholar

THAIN, C. and WRIGHT, M. (1995), The Treasury and Whitehall: The Planning and Control of Public Expenditure 1976–1993, Oxford, Clarendon Press. Google Scholar

WALKER, P. (1972), House of Commons Debate, 23 March 1972, 833, cc. 1698–99. Google Scholar

WICKS, M. (1983), ‘The lost years’, in Higgins et al. (1983), 86–116. Google Scholar

WILSON, D. (1971), Memoirs of a Minor Public Figure, London, Quartet. Google Scholar

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Author details

Long, Mark