Making space for place: from development management to planning
Devereux, M. and Charrington, H. (2012) Making space for place: from development management to planning. In: Borsi, K. and Durmaz, B., eds. (2012) Proceedings of Designing Place: International Urban Design Conference. Nottingham: University of Nottingham, pp. 117-129. ISBN 9780853582823
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This paper surveys the position that place currently holds within the discipline of planning in the UK, and advocates a move away from current models of development management to one of explicit place-making. The paper’s concern is the planning system itself, not what can be added on to correct it. The immediate contexts for the study are the current debate on planning system reform and the demise of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE). The 1947 Planning Act brought about a bureaucratization of planning. Until then planning, as a more or less ambiguous ‘art’, had largely concerned itself with the design of places, but henceforth would see itself as a function of local government concerned with regulating land-use. The 1947 Act did not mention design, while the Schuster Committee’s (1950) findings that planning was a task for public administration resulted in a diminishment of design as a basic part of the planners’ approach to solving the social and environmental problems confronting place. The consequence is a planning system which ill-considers place-making. A problem that national government recognises through continuous intervention, issuing a plethora of guidance notes and establishing ‘corrective’ bodies, culminating in the setting up of CABE in 1999. However, these are add-ons, applied unequally. In contrast the authors advocate amending the system itself – in tandem with re-introducing the 2- and 3-dimensional skills appropriate to place-making into the education of planners; skills which have currently atrophied. The paper argues that the planning application process become a shared conversation, a true design process in which decisions about place are made during the process, not through addressing abstract policy documents issued prior to it, or reviews conducted after it. To ground this dialogue in a necessarily wider social and environmental understanding of place, and to give the certainty the current system lacks, a place-plan should be established – a detailed urban design and land use plan produced by architects, urbanists, planners and patrons working together as designers and mandated by the Local Planning Authority. The authors’ proposals draw upon workshops the authors undertook with the Planning Inspectorate and CABE which tested these ideas, as well as their experience of place-making and its promotion in practice and higher education in the UK and abroad. These include the Project for Public Spaces Organisation in the United States, and place-plans in France, the Netherlands and Finland.
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