Town Planning Review

From land-use to 'spatial planning': Reflections on the reform of the English planning system

Town Planning Review (2009), 80, (4-5), 415–436.

Abstract

The reform of the English planning system effected by the 2004 Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act sought to re-brand planning as a positive instrument designed to help maintain, create and/or recreate sustainable communities. The terminology through which this purported transition from a system which was perceived to be regulatory and bureaucratic in character to one in which practising planners coordinate, orchestrate and manage the changing nature of communities is very much redolent of the vocabulary by which the political philosophy of the Third Way has been communicated. In this article, we explore the origins of the new system in these political ideals and the extent to which English planners are, in accord with the intentions of the new system, reaching beyond narrow land-use regulation to develop a more coordinated and consensus-based approach to planning practice. The article draws upon the results of a major three-year research project Spatial Plans in Practice, funded by the UK government, to provide an empirical reflection on the experiences of planning professionals over the first three years of the new system's operation.

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Shaw, David

Lord, Alex