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RTPI CONF: PLANNING NEEDS SHOULD DRIVE THE FUTURE TERRITORIAL STRUCTURE OF ENGLAND

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Effective town and country planning for the regions should be driving the future territorial structure of England, ...
Effective town and country planning for the regions should be driving the future territorial structure of England, Steve Leach of Leicester Business School today told the Royal Town Planning Institute's National Planning Conference in Bournemouth.

The local government review (1992-97) had left 'a legacy of structural anomalies, particularly in England,' claimed professor Leach.

'The superficial rationale of the 'assembly plus unitary authority' governmental system in Scotland and Wales is absent in England where it would be difficult to introduce without a further period of disruptive change.

'First, there are the inconsistencies generated by the local government review itself - between the metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas and within the latter.

'Secondly there is the creation of a new strategic authority for Greater London - not replicated in the provincial metropolitan areas.

'Thirdly there is the uncertainty over the introduction of regional government, as opposed to regional development agencies, in England.

'These uncertainties and anomalies raise a number of important choices for the future of the territorial structure of England in which criteria for effective structure planning have an important role to play.'

Prof Leach said that the government's commitment to 'democratic renewal' in the United Kingdom was more clear-cut, containing elements of electoral reform, change in political management structures and a new emphasis on 'participatory democracy'.

'Whilst the public participation aspects of the democratic renewal agenda are largely familiar to town planners, the proposed changes in political management structures are more problematical,' he added.

'In particular, the separating out of the roles of executive and assembly could transform the familiar processes of planning decision making.'

NOTES

Professor Leach is professor of local government in the Department of Public Policy and Managerial Structures at De Montfort University. He is currently a member of a team of researchers at De Montfort carrying out a DETR research project on 'Public Participation in Local Government'.

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