TPR, 64 (3) 1993
H. W. E. DAVIES
Europe and the future of planning" 1
Town and country planning in Britain faces three major challenges following
completion of the Single European Market and signing of the Maastricht Treaty
on European Union. The first will be the new geography of development with
the removal of non-tariff boundaries and the continuing priority by the
European Commission for the reduction in regional inequalities within the
European Community. The second is the legislative changes that may come
about as a consequence of the Community, especially those affecting the
environment. The third challenge is the likely consequences of the first two for
the planning system and profession in Britain.
It is a great honour for me to be invited to give the fourth Abercrombie Lecture, here
in Liverpool where Sir Patrick Abercrombie started his career and was for many
years Lever Professor of Civic Design in the University. I write this lecture with, in
front of me, the view from my window of the River Thames. It was here, sixty-four
years ago, that Patrick Abercrombie, with the first Lever Professor of Civic Design,
Stanley Adshead, prepared one of his earliest planning reports, on The Thames Valley
from Cricklade to Staines. 2 The report was prepared at the request of the Thames Valley
branch of the Council for the Preservation of Rural England. Abercrombie himself
had been a co-founder of the Council in 1926. The main object of their report was to
consider 'the means by which the beauty of the Thames Valley may be preserved for
enjoyment from a national point of view'. Much of what they sought to preserve has
been retained. The riverside road, passing my flat and on through the Goring Gap,
still carries a heavy load of traffic, but now the M4 takes much of the heaviest goods
traffic. The north bank of the river is largely as it was in Abercrombie's time. But, as
he foresaw, Reading was extending upstream to Tilehurst and indeed by now has
spread beyond, to Pangbourne.
Much of that success of course is attributable to the actions of planners, working
under the 1947Town and Country Planning Act and its successors. For a glance at
the Berkshire Regional Planning Survey of 1930 would demonstrate that the earlier
planning acts lacked the powers to control development in ways that were
necessary to preserve the beauties of the Thames Valley?
â€¢ This is the revised text of a paper first given by the author as the Fourth Abercrombie Lecture in
the University of Liverpool. 1 April 1993.
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