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Introduction

Planning revisited

The purpose of this book is to investigate ‘social planning’ with reference chiefly to the ‘social aspects of planning’ agenda within British town planning. This, inevitably, leads to a consideration of issues such as urban governance, social policy, inequality, sustainability, and planning theory.

Town Planning Books PDF

This book develops further the theme of investigating the social construction of urban realities and thus of social town planning which was introduced in earlier work by the editor (Greed, 1994) and which has long intrigued the various contributors (for example, R.H. Williams, 1975, inter alia).

Nowadays it may be argued that there is not one ‘town planning’ but many new ‘plannings’, each with its own agenda, devotees, and priorities, including, for example, environmental planning; urban design planning, Euro- planning; and market-led urban renewal planning (cf. Greed, 1996a; Greed and Roberts, 1998).

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One of the most dynamic, changing and controversial of the ‘plannings’ is what may be broadly termed ‘social town planning’. There has been a proliferation of demands and policy proposals to meet the needs of minority interests and community groups, in which the present scope and nature of statutory town planning appears unable, and ill-equipped, to meet.

This book is aimed at good second-year students and above who are studying town planning, urban geography, and social policy, whilst providing debate for more advanced readers. Those readers new to the subject who require historical background are referred to chapter 11, ‘Urban social perspectives on planning’ in Introducing Town Planning (Greed, 1996b), which provides an introductory summary of the issues, and to chapters 7–9 of Women and Planning (Greed, 1994) which deals with the issues in greater depth. (Town Planning Books PDF)

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In a nutshell, much of the debate over the role of planning over the last 150 years has revolved around the question of whether it is possible to achieve ‘salvation by bricks’: that is, whether social problems can be ‘solved’ by redesigning the built environment (a reformist viewpoint), or whether such efforts are simply useless, ‘like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic’ (a more socialist view),(Town Planning Books PDF)

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because, it is held, more radical change is needed within society itself before cities will change. ‘Environmental determinism’ is the term used, often pejoratively, to describe the planner’s attempts to play God (cf. Newman, 1973; A. Coleman, 1985). In contrast, nowadays one is more likely to find that ‘space’ (the physical layout) is seen as a secondary consideration in some branches of social town planning,(Town Planning Books PDF)

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and greater emphasis is put upon ‘aspatial’ (social) urban policy in respect of health, sustainability, inner-city regeneration, and community empowerment. But many would still argue that ‘space matters’ (McDowell, 1997), especially for women seeking to negotiate the city of man, and the disabled whose urban mobility and access is limited by unnecessary steps and poor design.(Town Planning Books PDF)

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