The author's other main theme is to stress the
importance of words like 'variety' and 'choice': 'In the
capacity for local choice lies both the value and the
danger of local government to central government ...
variety of practice can be a means of social learning
... for the author there is value in the diversity of local
choice .. .' Full marks to John Stewart for developing
this theme. At a time when the future of democracy in
this country is more under threat than for many years,
it is a theme which needs pressing home before it is
Merseyside County Council
Local Planning in Four English Cities. Richard Farnell,
Aldershot, Gower. 1983, viii+ 123 pp.. Â£ 13.50
This book examines the policy content of local
planning between 1974 and 1978 in Birmingham,
Bristol, Leeds and Leicester. The author sets himself
the task of identifying the substantive concerns of
local planning and of discovering why these particular
concerns formed the policy content of local plans.
After a brief review of various theoretical perspectives and a description of his approach. the author
proceeds to a discussion of the structural setting
within which local planning had to be undertaken. In
this section he describes how there was a transition
from local plans designed to respond to the pressures
of the property boom to local plans intended to
facilitate or promote development in a depressed
economic situation. He also discusses legitimacy (the
case for government intervention), feasibility (the
ability to prepare plans) and support (the resources
for implementation). In this discussion Farnell is
critical of planners for being over ambitious about the
number of local plans proposed and seems to take no
account of the political environment immediately
after 1974 when district councils vested with local
plan-making powers for the first time were determined
to make the most of their new freedom, if only to 'cock
a snook' at their county council.
Farnell also suggests that where local plans were
required to promote development planners displayed
little interest in underlying social and economic
factors. He then goes on to say that in areas of decline,
where any development was difficult, planners got
into difficulties in using these social and economic
factors. with the result that local plans for such areas
were no more than ad hoc site specific development
facilitation. Here he displays a surprising lack of
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Copyright Â© Liverpool University Press.
appreciation of the problems underlying the planning
process at that time. Although he acknowledges a
tension between the broad scope of planning prob
lems and the narrow constraints of statute and"
organisational structure. he fails in this chapter and in
his subsequent accounts of the four authorities to
examine these issues in any depth. There is nO
discussion of the damage done to the holistic plan"
making system by separating the preparation of local
plans from the preparation and review of the struct~rek
plan. There 'is no discussion of the attempt to lin
plans with local authority budgeting to improve the
prospect for implementation. There is no discussion
of the problems encountered in trying to relate wider
social and economic issues to local plans.
As a result the account of the four authorities is a
somewhat plodding record of what was done or not
done as derived from plans produced and proceedings
documented. The author acknowledges that the
nature of his source data has most likely influenced
his findings, but since he was aware of this bias one
cannot help but wonder why he seems to have done SO
little to achieve a more balanced view. Not surprising"
Iy Farnell comes to the conclusion that local plans ar~
primarily prepared to meet the requirements 0
development interests. What the author does not telf
us is whether this was because of the aspirations 0
the planners or the dogma of politicians. Further rnor
the reader is left wondering whether district anr
borough planning is entirely devoted to thiS end '~h
whether other means have been found to deal WI e
other issues because local plans have proved to b
FRANCIS I. C. AMOS
University 0/ Birmingham
Public-Private Partnership in American Cities:
Case Studies. R. Scott Fosler and Renee A. Bernof,
(eds.). Lexington, Mass., Lexington Books (UK: Alders
Gower). 1983, viii+ 363 pp., Â£20.00
Public-private cooperation is becoming a key
in concern about inner cities in Britain, whether InoiO"
activities of the Financial Institutions Group ap~ eS s
ted by Michael Heseltine. or, say,the work of 'Bu Slnrl1 ic
in the Community' in stimulating local econo ave
development. Thus it is timely and valuable to ~iOO
the transatlantic experience offered in this coll eC
of case studies of seven American cities.
The cities range from Baltimore to portlan '