Town Planning Review

Harrison, M. L. and Mordey, R. (eds.), "Planning Control: Philosophies, Prospects and Practice" (Book Review)

Town Planning Review (1987), 58, (3), 347


BOOK REVIEWS ~e!a~e their research findings and conclusions to I<~rher work on urban systems by Bourne, Dziewonski, th aassen, and Sinclair; if each made such an attempt, pee volume would not appear as diverse in analytical rspective. OfThis ~ol.ume represents a first step in the direction urbPrOVldlng a conceptual apparatus for studying ecaan systems in transition within different socioshonfdmlc environments and political settings; it of t~ be seen as a platform upon which future work TN e Commission can be developed and expanded. OMAS KONTULY tJ, nlversity of Utah P1anni n Prac ?Control: Philosophies, Prospects and Londtlce, M, L, Harrison and R, Mordey Ieds.I on, Croom Helm, 1987,234 pp., £25.00 'rh'IS coIl . Current ~ctlon of essays reviews and summarises COntrol' iSSues and debates about development essay dn the 1980s, As Mordey points out in the last Cold. "t ~velopment control has come in out of the sYst~~ IS no lon,ger the Cinderella of the planning :ilpidJy ~n? t~e ~lterature on the subject is growing Itself a'. t l~ .fin~lng its place in planning education, now th IUS~lficatlon for the collection. Yet, ironically, COntrol ~t It has achieved this status, development the oth IS n~ longer 'as secure as it once seemed' as tio n, It ~~ editor, Harrison, points out in the introduc\:ontrol t as if the exposure of development has reve ~ o~tslde gaze in the last ten or fifteen years are far f~ ed Its weaknesses, that its logic and purpose om P,lanning c,le,ar once looked at separately from the V10lJS]y d PO.l1cles and procedures which had pre- LaokinorrlInated planning writing and education. Purpose g f at, these wider questions is not the cHrn is to 0 thIS collection. Rather its quite modest ~he prese~~t ~he scene about development control at °tne are tIme and to look at some specific issues. a~sthetic c Controversial, such as planning gain or C~l, SUch a~ntrol; ot~er~ are more neutral. or techni~Iffers from a de~cnptlon of how Scottish practice eVeloPrne EnglIsh, or the use of computers in . That . nt Control. IS raises m . . at defenSive I Y Worry about the collection Its tone s tack both . t sees planning and control under theCifics of on the broad front of principle and on the q e,attaCks fProcedure and influence. But its reply to ('lr~ If too t'nor the most part is defensive It is almost (Llany of th . ass urnpt' e authors have accepted the rn lftcation f Ions and have repl ied by seeking a '-Itt, j' ust'Cs. ~thods With~ Co~tro! and improvements in its theIr frame of reference. Copyright © 2010 ProQuest LLC. All rights reserved. Copyright © Liverpool University Press. 349 The prevailing tone is set by Pearce in his introductory review of the literature on development control and the development process. His review focuses on the effects control has on the private sector and the complaints that result: allegations of delay and uncertainty; of restrictions on the market; on the extra costs imposed by standards, conditions and agreement. It is a view of the world which assumes that the market is normal. that state intervention is, at best, a necessary imposition for correcting market failures. By concentrating on con . . trol and its procedures in isolation, the literature becomes lopsided, with very little reference to the aims of planning in a wider sense, its achievements or indeed its failures. It is admittedly the prevailing political view of planning, that it should be market . . led, a mechanism for filling the gaps and correcting the failures in the market but not much more. My criticism is more that of the literature itself than of the review, which does give a useful summary. Other essays take much the same stance, by focusing on the particular issues which have been particular sources of complaint from the market. Thus Simpson discusses planning gain, relying heavily on the very biased literature, notably the report by the Property Advisory Group. His responses to the criticisms of planning gain are very general, based neither on empirical research (other than some case studies) nor a sound theoretical basis. It 1S true that there are no clear, acceptable rules for planning gain other than those in the Department of the Environment's Circular 22/83. There is a real need for a properly worked out policy framework to give planning gain a rationale based on a proper under.. standing of the aims of planning. Booth presents a useful review of the literature on design control. emphasising the extent to which the debate has become side-tracked into a very partial view of design, over-concerned about the superficialities of the outward appearance of buildings and the detailed treatment of, say, fenestration rather than anything more fundamental about our re~ sponses to change in the environment. Green and Foley pick on another topical issue, illustrated by the conversion of old buildings for small businesses. The problems lie in the uncertainty created by administrative discretion untremmetled by clear policy, especially when reinforced by the attitudes and prejudices of individual planning officers and committees. for instance on mixed and non-conforrning uses The review of the use classes order provides the vehicle for this paper, though the debate tends to be locked into seeing the correct definition of the use of a building as the criterion, and refonn becomes a matter of juggling between

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Author details

Davies, H. W. E.