Town Planning Review

Fosler, R. Scott and Berger, Reene A. (eds.), "Public-Private Partnership in American Cities: Seven Case Studies" (Book Review)

Town Planning Review (1984), 55, (3), 376


384 BOOK REVIEWS 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 too late. R.O'BRIEN Merseyside County Council Local Planning in Four English Cities. Richard Farnell, Aldershot, Gower. 1983, viii+ 123 pp.. £ 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 Copyright © 2010 ProQuest LLC. All rights reserved. Copyright © 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 1 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 d 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 wholly unsuitable. FRANCIS I. C. AMOS University 0/ Birmingham seven Public-Private Partnership in American Cities: ger Case Studies. R. Scott Fosler and Renee A. Bernof, (eds.). Lexington, Mass., Lexington Books (UK: Alders Gower). 1983, viii+ 363 pp., £20.00 conc~~~ 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. d froJl1 The cities range from Baltimore to portlan '

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Author details

Davies, H. W. E.