MSc Real Estate and Planning programme 2013; Edinburgh
Heriot-Watt University, School of Built Environment
In pursuing participation - Discussing the changes in planning approaches in the context of evolving urban governance structures in the UK Report on participation, power sharing and inclusion
Roland Lรกposi 2013.02.22.
In pursuing participation: Discussing the changes in planning approaches in the context of evolving urban governance structures in the UK Introduction This essay is aimed to discuss the extent to which planning have changed through the time to stress greater participation and reveal the link between evolving context of urban governance and the increasing demand for participation. The key method of the analysis is the recognition of patterns between historic events such as turning points in UK government policies and political manifestos, to identify connections between governance levels and planning powers and looking into case studies of participation. In 1969 Arnstein published his concepts about participation and public engagement, stating that the question of citizen participation is misunderstood and mystified by rhetoric. The Ladder of Citizen Participation is a rough but simple guide to analyse and measure to what extent redistribution of power enables for ‘have-not citizens’ presently excluded from political and economic processes to have a say in decision influencing their future by identifying 8 rungs of the ladder from Manipulation to the highest Citizen control In the same year in the UK the Skeffington Report (1969) made some – obvious (Robertson, 2001) or mundane (Cullingworth and Nadin, 2006, pp 432) - recommendations for ‘securing the participation of the public into the making of development plans for their area’ responding to the cultural and political changes after the post-war period. Those methods included the provision of better information and publicity for promoting a degree of citizen control over professional and bureaucratic power. On Arnstein’s ladder these methods didn’t rank up higher than ‘tokenism’ still it was an important step forward in public involvement. Participation as acknowledged part in planning was born. Just a year before in 1968 another important diagnose came from the Seebohm Committee, it pointed out the tension between representative democracy (recognised by politics) and participation. This conflict is still present.
Linking participation and governance By looking through the history of planning shows a definite linkage can be seen between the emergence of political ideologies of governing parties responding to economic, social and cultural challenges of different eras and the shifts in purpose of planning – in simple terms what the problem is that planning should solve (tcpa, 2010). Planning as a tool of delivery for politics changed accordingly to the shifting perceptions of public interest, which influenced party ideologies and political agendas for ensuring that those expectations of the public – voters - are met (Tewdwr – Jones, 2012, pp18-23). Planning operates and is embedded into a framework of government tiers, on different discretionary levels as planning decisions are delegated. This structure of the state - with its agencies from national to local is the stage where entities with different agendas, roles and powers are present - is heavily dependent on the dominant views of political establishments (Tewdwr – Jones, 2012 pp 206). The more elaborate and multilayered the state-system becomes the more fragmented it is, therefore the necessity of for information-sharing and cooperation between parties rises. Parties and governments have and had different solutions to tackle the spatial issues by establishing and abolishing various local and regional bodies and government agencies and channelling inputs of
participation from the private and voluntary sectors to those institutions. The change towards a system with more actors and more layers opposing to a direct central – local government relationship resulted that government transformed into governance. It is necessary to state at this point that participation works differently and has distinctive outcomes on different tiers. Amundsen (quoted in Hague, 2005, pp 13-14) summarised the main questions to be answered by dealing with participation in order to address planning are issues concerning identity of a regional or local place. Not surprisingly they are: what, who, how and why, which translates into planning theories as: who are we planning for? Identity of place is an important factor as plans for development would be built upon it. Jenkins (2005, pp 31) claimed that the notion of people sharing place and having to find new forms of governance to reach mutual understanding of place is essential, and participatory techniques could help for planning to define and handle identity. Smith (2005, pp 40-49) summarized the transition between ‘paradigms’ or planning approaches in subsequent stages in relation to the use of participation and power-sharing. He highlighted the possibility of participation procedures can lead to a status when local authorities observe and well-represented but not representative interest groups are able to monopolise it or is likely to end in dissent, manipulation and frustration. More issue with participation is addressed in depth in Wilson’s - The dark side of community planning (2005). Changing context of urban governance Cullingworth and Nadin’s (2005, pp 1-121) drawn up a short review of the evolution of governance from planning’s point of view showing that participatory approaches resurface time by time adapted to political ideologies. Defining point was the Town and Country Planning Act (1947) which directed planning powers to local tier and stated that development plans should be prepared everywhere. Although it didn’t introduce participation - being masterplan led and technocratic, regulatory - it transferred powers to elected local community representatives. Built on this heritage Labour and Conservative governments have formed and abolished regional tiers, city regions, swinging from centralisation to decentralisation and back (Tewdwr – Jones 2012 pp 208-2014) with changing preference for central or local of integration. Planning followed this restructuring with new plan types, with the appearance of Urban Development Corporations and Enterprise Zones and recently Local Enterprise Partnerships with reduced participation and allowed bypassing local authorities in favour of developments. From 1997 the New Labour has established the regional tier again in England with bottom-up involvement of local councils, formed Regional Development Agencies and promoted ‘one stop regional development’, and tried to form regional bodies responsible for Regional Spatial Strategies. (The impacts of European Spatial Development Perspective were already in motion as well as the Agenda 21 policies (Kirk, 2005, pp 143)). Emphasis has been put on local partnerships as a main form to convey local community interest in economic, social and environmental issues by working councils, local people and businesses and voluntary organisations in form of various publicprivate partnerships together (Labour Party, 1997) and introduced the definition of stakeholders. Participation became front-loaded continued from the earliest possible stage of planning as well as tailor-made (timing, language, and assistance etc. for anticipated participants). Representation of hardto –reach groups by gender, race and disabilities has become important. Devolution of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland marked the moment when planning systems started evolving differently in the sense of handling city-regions and national planning frameworks and therefore new platforms got available for participation on higher levels too. The Coalition’s effort to introduce Big Society, decrease the size of public sector and deregulate resulted the abolishment of regional development agencies and spatial strategies established by New Labour, but the idea of some kind of region – wide cooperation and institutionalised connections established relationships of local
authorities, representative groups, businesses and stakeholders remained. The Coalition believes that empowering citizens by giving a chance to form their own neighbourhood plans with ‘open source planning’ and collaborative planning lead to better places, stronger local cohesion which will transform people to active citizens (Conservative Party, 2010). This report does not equal lower level of planning (smaller area covered) tiers with more effective participation. In Europe where plans and planning are more design or “blueprint” based (the German Bebauung-splan, the Hungarian szabályozasi terv), and can be done on a street block level participation is not higher. Apathy of citizens, lack of outreach, missing skills of planners and mostly the issue of sharing decisions and power alienates by listening and taking on people’s thoughts is more often the situation. Participation in practice In the reality participation in practice is being done a ‘slightly’ different way. Robertson found that in vision statements from Edinburgh, South-Lanarkshire, Highlands, Glasgow and Stirling only Stirling has addressed any issue raised in through participation within its key strategic aims (2001). While on community platforms not the elected council members but paid officials represented the local communities raising doubts of legitimacy. Main factors of failed or not trusted actions are identified in scarce resources (Jenkins, Kirk and Smith, 2002) tight timing (Planning Democracy, 2012), lack of skills and dedication (McWilliams, 2004, n.d. and TCPA, 2010), lack on ongoing/long term engagement processes (Hague and Jenkins, 2005, pp 215; and Matthews, 2012), lack of sense of influence and real recognition.
Conclusions Participation went a great extent and from being an idea and rhetoric towards a useful tool of involvement but did not reach its full effect. Ten years ago the RTPI promoted it New Vision defining shifts and approaches (2003). Still the 3/2010 Community engagement PAN (2010) is using the word ‘consultation’ – a tokenism – and draws the limits of participation at ‘by listening and considering’. Through the case studies it can be seen that participation is an acknowledged part of the planning system yet the delivery far from flawless. In the light of Peck’s (2012) warning about consequences of public-sector cuts – all government tiers are facing with –the emergence of placebo dependency and the empty rhetorical becomes a real threat to cities. Solutions to make planning work – to make participation work (Hague et al., 2005) are known as well as methods (Planning Aid Scotland, 2011) for evaluation. The problem is the lack of real political commitment and management (time, resources, mediums and money) and the lack of being recognised by the governance organisation as important in strategy making and plan preparation at least on the same level and budget as public relationships. Therefore participation in most of the cases is a promise waiting to be fulfilled.
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Planning Democracy (2012) Re-valuing public participation in Scotland’s planning system – A Planning Democracy Advocacy Paper – Discussion Draft [online] available from: http://www.planningdemocracy.org.uk/resources/PAP_discuss_draft_web_April12.pdf (accessed on 11. February 2013) Robertson, D (2001) ‘Community Planning: Right Sentiments, Wrong Approach’, Scottish Affairs, No. 34, [online] available from: scottishaffairs.org/backiss/pdfs/sa34/SA34_Robertson.pdf (accessed on 02 February 2013) RTPI (2003) a New Vision for Planning: Delivering Sustainable Communities, Settlements and Places, London: RTPI Skeffington, A. (1969) People and Planning: Report of the Committee on Public Participation in Planning, London: HMSO Smith, H. (2005) ‘Place identity and participation’ in Hague, C. and Jenkins, P. (ed.). Place Identity, Participation and Planning, Abingdon Routledge, pp 39-56 The Scottish Government (2010) Planning Advice Note 3/2010 Community Engagement [online] available from; http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/322754/0103851.pdf (accessed on 26 January 2013) Tewdwr-Jones, M. (2012) Spatial Planning and Governance – Understanding UK Planning, London: Palgrave Macmillan Town and Country Planning Association (2010) the future of planning report: Distilling the tcpa roundtable debates, London: TCPA available from: http://www.tcpa.org.uk/data/files/tcpa_futureplanning_report.pdf (accessed on 02 February 2013) Wilson, N. (2005) ‘The dark side of community planning’, Planning Theory and Practice, Vol. 6 (4), pp 519-526
Published on Jan 5, 2014
This is a short academic report discussing the changes in planning approaches in the context of evolving urban governance structures in the...