Page 1



Sinay COÅžKUN 2139244

Contents INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................. 2 DEFINITIONS RALATED TO THE RATIONAL COMPREHENSIVE PLAN .................... 3 THE EVOLUTION OF STRUCTURAL FUNCTIONALISM .......................................... 4 THE EVOLUTION OF RATIONAL COMPREHENSIVE PLANNING APPROACH .......... 5 MAIN CHARACTERISTICS OF THE RATIONAL COMPREHENSIVE PLAN ................. 7 EXAMPLES OF COMPREHENSIVELY IMPLEMENTED PLANS AND THEIR CONTENTS .......................................................................................................... 8 MAIN FEATURES DISTINGUISHING COMPREHENSIVE PLANNING APPROACH FROM ALL THE OTHERS .................................................................................... 12 REFERENCES ..................................................................................................... 13


INTRODUCTION Rational decision making in planning practices was considered to be one of the most practical and percipient theories for the ever-increasing and changing needs of the planning practice. Rational comprehensive planning is mainly based on scientific frame of mind. So, in implementation, modern methods are used as well as the large data collections. These data collections are used to generate a logic and make rational claims based on this logic. On the other hand, with a wide range of input provided by a large data collection, it creates several alternatives for the planning practice and chooses the best one among them. It also provides flexibility with the feedback and monitoring opportunities so that necessary changes or modifications can be made to the plan. Although the rational comprehensive planning approach is one of the most successful planning concepts, it has been criticized by many different bodies. One major criticism on rational comprehensive planning concept is about its focusing on the ‘’means’’ rather than the ‘’ends’’. It is claimed that the model is “essentially ‘contentless’ in that it specifies thinking and acting procedures but does not investigate what is the content of these” (Thomas, 1982, p.14, in Paris 1982). Michael Thomas stated that the rational comprehensive approach does not contribute saliently to the planning practice because of its being concerned only about “decision-theory’’ but not the consequences of the decisions. For Campbell, comprehensiveness of the plan is not a simple job due to the limited time and resources for making a decision by exploring all possible alternatives. Many limitations, deficiencies or failures mentioned above should be taken into consideration while identifying the rational way of thinking system with the planning practices. In short, there should be adequate information in terms of quality, quantity and accuracy. In addition to these, substantive knowledge of the cause and effect relationships should be obtained while evaluating the various alternatives. In another saying, both a deep knowledge on different alternatives and the consequences ıf each alternative should be considered together. Considering all the shortcomings mentioned above, some basic interpretations can be made on the rational comprehensive planning concept. Firstly, it requires a quite a long time as well as an excessive provision of related information. It assumes there are only rational and measurable criteria are available and agreed upon. In the following parts of this paper, the historical development of the comprehensive planning concept, the detailed expression, the opposing views and some examples of comprehensively implemented plans will be examined with a structural functionalist point of view.


DEFINITIONS RALATED TO THE RATIONAL COMPREHENSIVE PLAN Many definitions have been made focusing on similar points for the comprehensive planning approach. The diversity of definitions and conceptual explanations show us how open this concept is to the discussion. One of the important definitions for the rational comprehensive planning approach in theory belongs to J. Kent. For him: ‘’ The general plan is the official statement of a municipal legislative body which sets forth its major policies concerning desirable future physical development; the published general plan document must include a single, unified general physical design for the community, and it must attempt to clarify the relationships between physical development policies and social and economic goals.’’ Stages of Rational Planning Method

The term ‘’general plan’’ started to be used after Kent published his book in 1948. There are other terms that can be used instead of general plan such as master plan, city plan, comprehensive plan etc. By Kent’s explanations, a general or rational comprehensive plan should include a comprehensive large-scale drawing of the general physical design of the whole community as well as a written summary of the major policy proposals of the plan. Furthermore, the general plan should also indicate the community goals, including the primary and secondary social and economic roles that the city is to play in the region (Kent, 1964). After very first impressions on the comprehensive planning concept, in 1975 Black made a new definition as using the term ‘’comprehensive plan’’. For him: ‘’It is an official document prepared by a local government unit, which is a policy guide to be used for decisions regarding the physical development of that locality. It shows the trends and potentials of possible urban development within a twenty or thirty years period which is defined by urban managers.’’

Retrieved from:

More recently in 2001, Gerckens added his own ideas on the previous ones. For him: ‘’Comprehensive plan is not just a file cabinet full of plans for future streets; parks and recreation; housing; and so on. More importantly, it is an integrated statement of the aspirations of the community designed to achieve a broad array of community objectives.’’

To better summarize, it can be said that the rational comprehensive concept is the first scientific culture of planning (Roo and Hillier, 2012). As Faludi (1973) indicates in this book that the first quantitative-analytic-scientific culture of cities has developed in the 1950s and 1960s. Hand in hand with this development emerged also the rational comprehensive culture of planning, when the division of labour between the two is in line with Faudi’s distinction between theory of planning and theory in planning. 3

THE EVOLUTION OF STRUCTURAL FUNCTIONALISM The structural-functionalist idea is an early way of long standing which is emerged in the 1800s with the studies of French and British sociological philosophers and theoreticians Comte, Spencer and Durkheim who scouted and further developed the conceptualization of biological concepts in order to understand the society. The focus of their studies was to explain the order and stability of the social systems with a significant emphasis on systemic needs, interdependency and socialization. In the early 1900s, anthropologists Radcliffe-Brown and Malinowski further developed and applied the concept of structural-functionalism as a tool of creating a framework for ethnography and overcoming the limitations of diachronic approaches to understanding the change (Y. Potts and K. Vella, 2014). At the same time period and in a similar manner with the structural-functionalist anthropologists, theorists at the Chicago School of sociology were also emphasizing that social environment cannot be understood without understanding the relationships and interactions between the actors in the society (Abbott, 1997). American sociologist Talcott Parsons was one of the influential developers of the structural-functionalism in sociology during the 1950s and 1960s, Parsons’ and his students made the structural-functionalism one of the dominant sociological paradigm of that time. became the dominant sociological paradigm of the time. Parsons supported the biological concepts stated by early sociologists and perhaps boldly argued that structural-functionalism was a grand theory of sociology that could be applied to understand any system (Y. Potts and K. Vella, 2014). One of the Parsons’ student, Robert Merton questioned the main focuses of structural functionalism which was firstly developed by his teacher. He developed a new idea as modernized structural-functionalism with a more sophisticated idea indicating that not all functions are necessary to systemic survival or relevant to a system’s needs. In addition, he supported the idea that by themselves, functions can be either manifest, latent or dysfunctional which differs from Parsons’ structural-functionalism, which was mainly focusing on manifest functions. Apart from the academic point of views, there are also political science applications of structural-functionalism which ensures a relatively better way to find out how structural-functionalism should be applied to describe the structures and functions of complex planning systems. Although structural-functionalist view has been used in the policy sciences to sort out and analogize the political systems, and systems theory has been applied in planning theory, the principles behind structural– functional approaches are yet to be applied by planning theoreticians to support a real world, practical analysis or evaluation of the functionality or health governance arrangements for planning. (Y. Potts and K. Vella, 2014). Healey got inspiration from previously developed ideas such as Giddden’s study in which planning practice was using a sociological institutionalism. Because of her being dissatisfied with the normative and rational planning models of the 1960s, and structural-functionalism in the 1970s, she produced her ideas on the basis of Gidden’s arguments on the interrelations of the structure and agency in order to understand complexity of the planning 4

processesn. Healey (2007) uses Giddens’ arguments on the interrelations of structure and agency in her work on understanding complexity in planning practice. Healey’s rejection of classic structural-functionalism is one of the few examples where structural-functionalism has been considered for use in the planning discipline. (Y. Potts and K. Vella, 2014).

THE EVOLUTION OF RATIONAL COMPREHENSIVE PLANNING APPROACH Theoreticians of the planning domain consistently adopted epistemic pluralism and ideas of complexity both as planning theory and planning practice have evolved. Friedman (1996) defined four main periods for the evolution of planning thought between 1980s and the present day. In these periods the planning tradition is based respectively on social reform, policy analysis, social learning and social mobilization. According to the explanations made by Friedman, social reform and policy analysis traditions have a more positivistic attitude in planning practice. By saying a more positivistic attitude, a more rational, scientific approach to planning and decision-making is emphasized. Spontaneously the positivistic rational planning paradigm is problematic because it presents an idealistic, simplistic and linear model of decision-making (Y. Potts and K. Vella, 2014). It also fails to address issues of representation and the plurality of public interests, and inaccurately suggests that the planner has control over the decision-making situation (Alexander, 2000; Altschuler, 1965; Baum, 1996; Dalton, 1986; Davidoff, 1965; Etzioni, 1968). In addition to the critiques mentioned above on rational comprehensive planning approach, Baum (1977) and B. Harris (1967) state that planners should neither abnegate nor reverence rational planning paradigm, but should get wise to the value of its clear thinking and its usefulness both to theory and practice. On the other hand, it is arguable that the roles of planners are much more diverse than it is suggested within the scope of rational comprehensive planning approach. This leads us to the point that planning systems are too complex to be examined only on a rational basis. The increasing popularity of planning approaches within the social learning and social mobilization traditions from the 1980s to present day come up with a significant abnegation of early positivistic approaches to planning and a move towards largely post-positivist, but also post-modern, post-structuralist and neo-pragmatic planning approaches (Allmendinger, 2002; Allmendinger and Tewdwr-Jones, 2002). In the light of studies about the concepts mentioned above, there has also been an emerging discussion of complexity theory (Chettiparamb, 2014), critical pragmatism (Forester, 2013), actor network theory (Rydin, 2012) and institutional theory (Neuman, 2012). The above indicates that there are variety of theoretically and empirically shown approaches to the planning systems in order to conceptualize and analyze the complexity in the system. Although there is a significant differences of opinion regarding to how planning systems function, many theoreticians and practitioners have relatively similar ideas on some specific issues; it is supported by many theoreticians that the planning and policy making are not 5

always linear activities. Furthermore, it is accepted that planning and policy making may be operationalized across a number of interconnected institutions. It is avowable that the planning systems are obviously dynamic rather than static. To sum up the overall historical development of the rational comprehensive planning approach it can easily be said that urban theories are a set of theories that build upon each other. Many of the theories mentioned above have neither refuted each other nor replaced one as it happens in the evolution of rational comprehensive planning approach. Beginning with the 1st half of the 20th century, the domain of planning was dominated by the hermeneutic-descriptive culture of planning. Which can be called as Utopian Planning. By utopian it is tried to be indicated that the influential planners such as Howard and Corbusier direct their energies to produce future visions, like utopias, of cities. The term ‘’utopia’’ often comes with a negative manner in Marxist way of thinking or it is unrealistic. However; some utopias such as Garden City or Green Belt Concept became rather implemented. They have shaped the form and structure of the 20th century cities. Later between 50s-60s The first quantitative-analytic and scientific culture of cities had been developed. The science of cities was to supply the theory in planning with an insight about the development and structure of the city and the way it should rationally be, whereas ‘’the rational comprehensive’’ was the favorite planning theory. It is the planning procedure which will enable to plan and implement the good city in an efficient and rational way. Camhis, stated that rational comprehensive planning theory and practice was an attempt to apply the socalled scientific method to the domain of planning. When we come to the period between 60s and 70s, some argued that comprehensive planning is an irrational assumption, that planning is a political, incremental and essentially ‘non-scientific’ and non-technical process; it became apparent that the spectacular scientific instruments they’ve developed; fail to tame the city. When planning students started the question comprehensive planning, their aim was not to reject the primary theory but rather to correct and improve it. Thus, Lindblom with his incremental planning, added to the rational comprehensive planning a politically more realistic twist; and Davidoff with his advocacy planning a more democratic approach. (Roo and Hillier, 2012). Later in 70s and 80s, integral systems theory became an important field, focusing on the integration of social, economic and ecological process. And soft systems emerged taking a qualitative approach rather than a quantitative approach, mostly applied to companies and organizations. And in 90s, complex systems theory was introduced, focusing on the coevolutionary development of systems. Although the theory is far from mature, it has attracted a great deal of attention and has many applications in diverse research fields: in biology, economics, ecology, public administration and policy analysis.


MAIN CHARACTERISTICS OF THE RATIONAL COMPREHENSIVE PLAN For T.J. Kent and A. Black in common, there are 5 main characteristics of the general plan, in other words rational comprehensive plan and these characteristic are subject matter. First of all, a general plan (or rational comprehensive plan) should focus on the physical development as Kent states is his book that, when the problems created by the rapid, development of our cities after the civil war became acute, the need for enlarging the scope of design professions that had been concerned with the detailed physical elements of the urban environments, buildings, streets, and parks, as gradually recognized and in the United states the profession we now as city planning emerged. The scope of the city planning profession was initially and consciously, limited to question dealing primarily with the physical development of urban communities. Secondly, it should be long-range; since the earliest days of the American city-planning movement, the terms like long-range, comprehensive, and general have been used by city planners to describe to citizens and city councilmen the nature of the general plan. Longrange has always meant, in simplest terms, that the plan should be forward-looking, that it should attempt to provide for the future needs of the community. Comprehensive has meant that the plan should encompass all the significant physical elements of the urban environment, that the plan should be related to regional-development trends. Thirdly, it should be comprehensive which means, a general plan for physical development, in order to be a logical, reasonable and useful plan, must recognize and define its relationships with all significant factor, physical and nonphysical, local and regional, that affect the physical growth and development of the community. And the fourth characteristic is that the general plan should be general and should remain general; indicating the plan is intended only to provide a general picture of the locations and sizes of the major physical elements of the urban community and to indicate the desirable relationships between them. The fifth one is its being clearly related the major physical design proposals to the basic policies of the plan which means that every plan for the physical development of a community is an expression of value judgements. These judgements must be made when the primary community objectives are determined and when assumptions are made concerning governmental, economic, social and physical factors. To clarify the subordinate relationship of physical design proposals to policies it is essential to give special and continuing attention to the relationship between physical design proposals and basic policies in the official general-plan document. The next characteristic of the general plan is that the general plan should be in a form suitable for public debate; this requirement is dictated by the fact that two primary general plan uses which are policy determination and policy effectuation are performed by an elected legislative body. Such bodies, according to tradition and political philosophy, are supposed to act on important questions of policy only after a thorough and public debate.


The general plan should also be identified by the city council’s plan. If the general plan document fails to do this, if it is phrased in unnecessarily technical terms and has only a brief note of transmittal indicating, at most perfunctory approval by the council, it is bound to foster a misconception of the basic legislative uses of the plan in the minds of most readers. As another characteristic it might be said that the general plan should be available and understandable to the public. This characteristic is required by each of the five legislative uses of the general plan but especially by the communication and education uses. It means that copies of the complete plan document must be readily available to every interested citizen free of charge. The general plan should be designed to capitalize on its educational potential which means that every year a new group of young people become voters, changes take place in the membership of the council and the city planning commission and new leaders in business, civic and governmental affairs emerge. Most communities, however, are governed by a coalition of formal and informal leadership groups that usually in power for a generation. There is a tendency on the part of such leaders and their advisors to ignore the need for continuous educational efforts aimed at introducing the newcomers to the basic policies and methods of municipal government. That is why this characteristic should be taken into consideration. Last but not least, the general plan should be amendable. If the legislative body is presented with a general plan in a form that makes it difficult to chance, the plan will not be kept up to date and as a consequence, it will not be used. (Kent, 1964).

EXAMPLES OF COMPREHENSIVELY IMPLEMENTED PLANS AND THEIR CONTENTS Example from Chicago and Berkeley are given to analyze the contents and scope of their general plans. Some of the headings cover the issues and plays a central role to understand the following issues: How the plan was made? And How the general plan will be used? What is the current situation and future trends? It also mentions the major policies on commercial, residential, educational areas etc. There is an attention on the regulations and administrative level of planning as well.


Chicago General Plan

Berkeley Master Plan

Table of contents of the general plan are taken from The Urban General Plan by T.J. Kent


Cleveland General Plan

Another example comes from Philadelphia and Cleveland. In these general plans more socio spatial dimensions are taken into consideration. The headings related to the history of the city, the population structure, sectoral subdivisions on land and etc. can be found in the content of the plans. Philadelphia Comprehensive Plan

Table of contents of the general plan are taken from The Urban General Plan by T.J. Kent

Considering together with the conceptual approach, development process and changes, we can see the applicability of comprehensive planning as in many world examples. The following examples are from the Washington Radial Corridor Plan, Oakland General Plan, Philadelphia Comprehensive Plan and Copenhagen General Plan.


Philadelphia Comprehensive Plan

Washington Radial Corridor Plan

The examples of the general plan are taken from The Urban General Plan by T.J. Kent

Copenhagen General Plan

Oakland General Plan

The examples of the general plan are taken from The Urban General Plan by T.J. Kent


MAIN FEATURES DISTINGUISHING COMPREHENSIVE PLANNING APPROACH FROM ALL THE OTHERS The first feature is its achieving specific objectives and goals; a planned action, is predetermined, but a set of objectives and targets can be analyzed again and again. The tools used in the planning process are foreseen to achieve certain goals and objectives. The second distinguishing feature is its having a continuous selection process; there is a continuous selection at all stages of the planning process. In this sense, planning emphasis the decisive intellectual quality of the selection process. The third one is its being future oriented; planning is a process that envisages the achievement of the specified objectives; so it is a future-oriented process. In comprehensive planning, to achieve the set of goals in the future, basic needs for audit are discussed. Decisions about the costs and benefits are taken together with the planning process. The fourth different feature is its being action oriented; planning is a process made to achieve the desired results. So; it should be seen as a step which is purpose and tool oriented, and extending towards desired results. Lastly, its being comprehensive, again, make it different than the other approaches as it is mentioned before. (Ersoy, 2012)


REFERENCES Abbott A. (1997) Of time and space: The contemporary relevance of the Chicago school. Social Forces 75(4): 1149–1182 Allmendinger P. (2002) Towards a post-positivist typology of planning theory. Planning Theory 1(1): 77–99 Black A. (1975), “The Comprehensive Plan”, Melville C. Branch (Ed), Urban Planning Theory, Dowden, Hutchingson and Ross Inc., U.S.A Chettiparamb A. (2014) Complexity theory and planning: Examining ‘fractals’ for organizing policy domains in planning practice. Planning Theory 13(1): 5–25. Ersoy M. (2012), ‘’Planlama Kuramları’’ Faludi A. (1973) A Reader in Planning Theory. Oxford: Pergamon Press Forester J. (2013) On the theory and practice of critical pragmatism: Deliberative practice and creative negotiations. Planning Theory 12(1): 5–22. Kent T.J. (1964), ‘’The Urban General Plan’’, Victor Jones (Ed), Chandler Publishing, U.S.A Neuman M. (2012), The image of the institution: A cognitive theory of institutional change. Journal of the American Planning Association 78(2): 139–156. Potts, Ruth & Vella, Karen & Dale, Allan & Sipe, Neil. (2014). Exploring the usefulness of structural–functional approaches to analyze governance of planning systems. Planning Theory. 15. 10.1177/1473095214553519. Roo G. and Hillier J. (2012) ‘’Complexity and Planning: Systems, Assemblages and Simulations’’ : 119-130 Stramrud, Lars. (2017). Rational Planning and Advocacy Planning: A Comparative Essay. 10.13140/RG.2.2.23060.55681.


Profile for sinay coskun

Comprehensive Planning  

Comprehensive Planning