Town Planning Review

Tackling uncertainties in plan implementation: lessons from a growth area in England

Town Planning Review (2015), 86, (1), 7–28.

Abstract

This paper investigates the challenges of tackling multiple uncertainties in strategic plan implementation. Through a case study of a planned urban extension in the east of England, the paper examines the approaches that were adopted to tackle different types of uncertainties, including value uncertainties, organisational uncertainties and external uncertainties. The findings suggest that strategic, sub-regional plans are particularly vulnerable to external uncertainties, and that it is difficult to address external uncertainties through contingency plans, given the impact of political changes on the legitimacy of value assumptions underpinning each plan period. Nevertheless, the findings indicate the importance of mature, multi-actor partnership arrangements for development plan-making and implementation, which can facilitate the mitigation of organisational uncertainties following implementation failure. This implies that effective plan implementation is less about the circumvention of undesirable uncertainties, and more about the capacity to deal with the ongoing, recurring emergence of multiple uncertainties.

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Lau, Mandy