Town Planning Review

Morgan, Peter and Nott, Susan, "Development Control: Policy into Practice" (Book Review)

Town Planning Review (1989), 60, (1), 105


108 BOOK REVIEWS Chicago and Boston are insightful, where new political groupings, bridging racial and ethnic lines, have started to refocus revitalisation programmes through policies linking downtown and neighbourhood development. A marked contrast is found in Liverpool, where separatechapters by Parkinson and Ben-Tovim illustrate how unresolved political strife and the neglect of black concerns has mired a city already devastated by economic forces. The book is not without weaknesses. The choice of cases seemsa little arbitrary: there is no discussion of older American industrial cities like Buffalo or Cleveland to match the presentations on Glasgow and Liverpool, while New York and Chicago are included but London is not. Except for the introduction, opportunities to make comparisons between American and British experiences are infrequently taken. Still, this is a very useful book that provides a relatively up-to-date review of developments and some much needed balance to inflated claims about the recent achievements of urban regeneration in the United States and Britain. PHILIP SHAPIRA· Office of Technology Assessment, Congress of the United States • The views expressed in this review are not necessarily those of the Office of Technology Assessment. Development Control: Policy Into Practice, Peter Morgan and Susan Nott, London, Butterworths, 1988, 362 pp., £24.00 (f1Ib), £ 12.95 (p/b) This book is an acknowledgement of the current importance of development control within the planning system. Its purpose is to describe control in Britain from the initial application to the final decision, whether it be by the local planning authority, the Secretary of State or the courts. Its strength is that it is written jointly by a lawyer and a planner. Although the book is couched in the form of a legal text, with its tables of statutes and casesand lengthy footnotes, its legal commentaries are reinforced by more general planning considerations. However, those planning considerations are written almost exclusively from within the planning office itself. There is very little attempt to place development control in the context of a wider view of the development process. Thus chapter two, on the personnel of Copyright © 2010 ProQuest LLC. All rights reserved. Copyright © Liverpool University Press. planning, has only three very brief paragraphs on the role of the private sector developer, and virtually nothing of the forces which would mould the form, function and location of development before it ever reaches the desk of the development control officer. After the introductory chapters, the book then settles down to describing and discussing develop. ment control with many useful insights into its legal nature and its relationship with planning policy. As the authors say, the application for planning permission which starts the formal procedures is the 'deceptively simple process' by which the attempt is made to turn policy into practice. What the authors never actually do, and note that neither has the Department of the Environment, is arrive at an adequate definition of development control beyond that of controlling development. The gap lies in a definition of the more fundamental purposes to be achieved through development control. But that would need a different book which would place development control within land ownership and the processes by which development is initiated and undertaken. The weakness is emphasised by the authors in their discussion of the General Development and use Classes Orders.They argue that the General Develop" ment Order (GDO) represents a comprise between two functions which are potentially in conflict, namely those of permitting development whose envlronrnental impact is minimal, and a more radical instrument for removing restrictions on development which would boost the economic well-being of the community at large. The latest revision of the GDO came out after the book was published. It would suggest that, together with the 1987 GDO, the com" prise has been shifted significantly towards economic well-being. The most valuable part of Development Control: Policy into Practice follows in the next three chapters, on the various sources of policy: development plans; local policy and special controls, including what Healey has termed the 'policy stance'; and the Department of the Environment. It reminds us of the intentions of the original 1944 White Paper on the control of land use, and of the rapid and progressive erosion of its aims for a national policy expressed through a two" tier system of outline and detailed development plans. It discusses the status of the current develop" ment plans claiming that 'the structure plan remainS the foundation policy document for all aspects of development control in England and Wales, and is likely to remain a constant source of reference'. This is a statement which has been borne out by reviews of planning practice, not so much in the sense that it is legally or administratively binding as that the plan

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Author details

Davies, H. W. E.