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Neighbourhood planning

Neighbourhood planning: Communities, networks and governance

Nick Gallent
Steve Robinson
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  • Book Info
    Neighbourhood planning
    Book Description:

    Neighbourhood planning offers a critical analysis of community-based planning activity in England, framed within a broader view of collaborative rationality and its limits. From the recent experience of drawing up parish plans, and attempts to connect these to formal policy frameworks, it identifies lessons for future planning at the neighbourhood scale. It is not a manual on community planning practice, nor does it provide a formula for producing parish or neighbourhood plans. But in the context of the latest 'localism' agenda in England it, first, examines the potential contribution of neighbourhood planning to building a 'collaborative democracy' and, second, asks how much movement towards genuine local partnership, and consensus around development decisions, can be achieved through the rescaling of 'statutory' planning as opposed to expending greater effort locally on building stronger relationships, and generating trust, between 'people and planning'

    eISBN: 978-1-4473-0008-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. List of figures, images and table
    (pp. vi-vi)
  2. Part One: Democracy, planning and localism

    • ONE Introduction
      (pp. 3-8)

      The Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition government, in power since the UK General Election of 2010, has presented ‘localism’ as a clear alternative to over-centralised decision making – and as an antidote to dissatisfaction with existing democratic processes – to be delivered partly through a return of responsibility to ‘town halls’ and partly through a localisation of planning to the community, or ‘neighbourhood’, level. But localism is not a new concept and ‘modern’ community-based planning and activism have been around for many decades. Wherever neighbourhoods face the prospect of unsettling or disturbing change, or wish to grasp an opportunity, champions of ‘community interest’...

    • TWO Democratic renewal, planning and housing growth in England
      (pp. 9-22)

      The political and policy framework in which local government operates, and which determines its relationship with key policy actors and with community and interest groups, has been heavily amended over the last 15 years. Successive Labour governments from 1997 drove forward a programme of state modernisation and local government reform that appeared to challenge executive forms of ‘top-down’ control, by centralised departments and agencies, giving momentum instead to collaborative and participative forms of ‘governance’, characterised by bottom-up input into decision-making processes by a range of local actors from across the public, private and voluntary sectors. Labour’s reform programme, carried forward...

    • THREE Localism and its antecedents
      (pp. 23-36)

      The ‘localism’ of the UK coalition government is rooted in some of the ideas introduced in the last chapter. It connects with a participatory and collaborative (or ‘iterative’) understanding of how the structures of governance should function (Corry and Stoker, 2002; Stoker, 2004, 2007) and, like other collaborative approaches that operate at the interface with ‘communities of interest’, is viewed as an antithesis to centralised control, exerted through executive decision-making structures. With individualisation and globalisation as its backdrop, it is presented as the means to achieve democratic renewal and to rebuild trust between policy communities and communities of interest. Local...

    • FOUR Community-based planning and plans
      (pp. 37-50)

      The experience of producing and usingparish plansin England provides the empirical focus of this book. It is this experience, along with the community governance context for parish plans, that is held up as a mirror to the emerging process of neighbourhood development plan production, introduced at the end of this chapter. It is also this experience that exposes some of the frailties of democratic renewal rooted in networked governance, and the realities of community groups struggling to make their voices heard in the shadow of growth and the context of apparently overwhelming strategic priority. Here, we introduce some...

  3. Part Two: Capacity building and community-based planning

    • FIVE Ashford and its strategic planning context
      (pp. 53-68)

      There has been an ebb and flow of interest in strategic regional planning in the UK (Tewdwr-Jones, 2004), with the strategic perspective and control at the regional level enjoying notably greater support under some governments than others. Planning at this level has its origins in the 1940 Barlow Report (Barlow, 1940), which gave rise to the post-war New Towns programme and broader attempts to redistribute industry and decant people away from inner-urban locations. Strategic regional planning, together with the public building programmes of the post-war era, share a common root in comprehensive planning and public sector control. After the war,...

    • SIX Power, capacity and collaborative planning
      (pp. 69-78)

      The earlier chapters of this book outlined how the established concepts of ‘collaborative governance’ and ‘spatial planning’ were embraced in the UK as a means of deepening and broadening institutional capacity by enabling the development of coordinated local responses to an increasingly complex set of societal and governance challenges. A decade ago, Allmendinger and Tewdwr-Jones (2002) noted that these concepts were part of a Third Way in the process of governance, which itself was short-hand for the idea of a ‘new social democracy’, motoring Labour’s reform agenda (and now propelling the localism of the UK coalition government). The principal proponent...

    • SEVEN Community dynamics and planning
      (pp. 79-94)

      Neighbourhood planning is rooted in community dynamics, in the relationships and interactions that bind people together. These interactions may create what Tönnies (1887) described as a ‘unity of will’ and a sense of shared identity (see also Cohen, 1985), although they can also be a source of division, as fractures form between competing groups and diverse interests (Panelli, 2006). Broadly, communities are constituted of networks of social exchange and it is through these networks that community action is realised, often grounded in the emergence of ‘community leaders’ and in the coalescence of groupings that play a key role in catalysing...

    • EIGHT Capacity building and outreach
      (pp. 95-106)

      The degree to which parish councils authentically relay local views and local aspiration has been a key debate for those concerned with community governance issues for a number of years. Parish councils are frequently ridiculed as elitist, out of touch and parochial bodies that lack any real connection to the communities they serve (see Mitchell, 1951; Clark et al, 2007). They have even been called ‘feudal’, dominated by land and property-owning cliques (Raco, 2007). A question therefore remains as to the extent to which parish councils are either shut off from broader communities or are genuine vehicles for wider participation,...

  4. Part Three: The interface with policy actors

    • NINE Connectivity at the policy–community interface
      (pp. 109-122)

      In the last three chapters, we explored, through a review of past studies and also through an initial presentation of local case study material, some of the practical building blocks for collaborative action: the networks that provide the context for consensus building and which give community groups the capacity to work with others in the pursuit of shared outcomes. In Chapter Six, we introduced some of the ways in which dialogue between network members may be problematic, noting a divide between policy and interest communities, which may be expressed in poor communication and a lack of trust, reciprocity and authentic...

    • TEN Working with local government
      (pp. 123-136)

      In this chapter and the next, the focus is placed on communication between parish councils, policy actors, service providers and other bodies external to the communities. Reflecting the distinction drawn between bonding and bridging tactics, this analysis has been divided into two chapters. The current chapter considers direct links to the local authority, predicated on a lobbying relationship, with parish councils seeing themselves as part of the hierarchy of local government. The next then looks at a broader range of bridged links through intermediaries, including the support groups introduced in Chapter Seven, the area’s LSP and more incidental intermediaries including...

    • ELEVEN Working through intermediaries
      (pp. 137-148)

      In Chapter Nine, ‘intermediaries’ were characterised as ‘brokers’, negotiating a relationship between the community and policy actors. It was suggested that such intermediaries bridge the potential divide between community groups looking to put together plans, and either the planning authority – that might be looking to use the neighbourhood perspective in some way – or service providers, which might be steered by the content of a community-based plan. Given the thrust of local government reform in the 2000s – delivering Labour’s own brand of ‘new localism’ – and the creation of structures designed to open up policy processes to a broader array of local...

    • TWELVE Community-based plans
      (pp. 149-162)

      It is through the production of plans and statements that communities may seek to shape not only individual decisions but also the policies on which those decisions are built. Plans articulate a community’s aspirations. Their production can be viewed as an exercise in channelling local energies, and as key to capacity building. But it can also be seen as an overt attempt to supply evidence to stakeholders in the hope that this evidence will influence the shape of policy. This chapter examines community and policy actor views on community-based plans, their value and role in the planning process, and lessons...

    • THIRTEEN Planning’s critical interface
      (pp. 163-178)

      All the chapters detailing the discussions that took place with community groups and service providers in Ashford are intended to offer an insight into the dynamics of relationships, and into outcomes, at planning’s critical interface between policy producers and user communities. This interface looks set to become more critical in the years ahead as planners and community groups begin to navigate their way through the emergent neighbourhood planning agenda. It appears that much will have to change in the relationship between these key groups. Only a fundamental shift in the way that professionals think about their roles, and communities think...

  5. Part Four: Neighbourhood planning, leadership and democratic renewal

    • FOURTEEN Responsibility and responsiveness: lessons from parish planning
      (pp. 181-190)

      The purpose of this and the next chapter is to reappraise some of the lessons arising from community-basedparish planningin England, and to use these to illuminate the path of future local government reform and how networked community governance, of the type unpacked in the last 13 chapters, might realise its full potential in the years ahead. The narrative provided so far is distilled into a number of critical discussions around the mechanics of community-based planning, connectivity to strategic frameworks, and the responsibilities versus the responsiveness that communities seek through local action.

      The objective of neighbourhood or community-based planning...

    • FIFTEEN Conclusions
      (pp. 191-198)

      Tensions between communities and policy actors are ever-present in representative democracies, with strategic decisions at all levels often bringing local consequences that communities find it difficult if not impossible to live with. Over time, a build-up of pressure for greater bottom-up input into decision making is inevitable, but even when greater input is achieved the frustrations that communities feel rarely disappear. Rather, they become increasingly personalised, focusing around divisions within communities themselves or around the narrowness of dominant interests. Residents seldom speak with a single voice, but policy actors are often drawn to the most articulate or to those who...