Town Planning Review

POLICY FORUM: The Relevance of Development Control: "Lead Paper"

Town Planning Review (1980), 51, (1), 5


7 THE RELEVANCE OF DEVELOPMENT CONTROL remain unchanged), Exactly how this proposal will improve efficiency remains to be made clear. Despite accompanying proposals for guidelines and a code of practice, it is difficult to see how the strategic role of the counties can be given anything like adequate expression if they are left as plan-making rather than planning authorities and the achievement of the strategic role is given to the districts to add to their local and other planning responsibilities. These editorial comments, however, stand outside the main body of this Policy Forum and rest on conjucture and expectations. They should not be seen as supplementing the discussion nor as a further contribution. Their purpose has been to introduce, to set the scene and indicate the immediate context as far as possible at the time of going to press. The Policy Forum proper now begins with the Lead Paper on "The Relevance of Development Control' by Lyn Davies which is followed by "Comments' from John Finney, Geoffrey Steeley and Roger Suddards together with a final "Response' from Lyn Davies. D. W. M. * * * * * THE RELEVANCE OF DEVELOPMENT CONTROL by H. W. E. DAVIES Development control is an essential part of town and country planning in Britain. It is actually older than the other principal part of the planning system, the development plan. Control of the use and development of all land, irrespective of whether a town planning scheme was in operation, was introduced in the 1943 Town and Country Planning (Interim Development) Act, four years before the full system of development plans. The basic principle of development control is very simple. Every proposal to develop land or change its use requires planning permission from the local authority. Today, development control in England and Wales is responsible for processing about 450 000 applications annually. It employs a professional staff of 4100, a third of the total planning staff in local government, and is supported by a further 2400 administrative staff. It cost the public sector about £38 million in 1975/76, apart from its unknown cost to applicants for planning permission.' The growth of development control has been massive, yet it remains recognisably the same system of public administration as that introduced more than thirty years ago. To question the relevance of development control may thus seem strange, given its scale and function, but it is nevertheless both necessary and timely. For most of its existence, development control has been the unsung part of planning. The single most influential review of planning in this period, the 1965 report of the Planning Advisory Group, proposed radical changes in the form of development plans but Copyright (c) 2004 ProQuest Information and Learning Company Copyright (c) Liverpool University Press

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Author details

Davies, H. W. E.