Solving the development plan puzzle in Britain: learning lessons from history
Development plans lie at the heart of the British planning system. The concept of planning is inseparably linked to the image of a development plan which, in one form or another, has been a part of the statutory planning system since 1909. The changes to the planning legislation in the early 1990s gave development plans a renewed importance, with the concept of a 'plan-led' system of control serving to reinforce the relationship between planning and plans once more. Within this context, this paper questions the extent to which the role of development plans in the planning system has ever been satisfactorily clarified. It takes a historical look at development plans (in England and Wales) since the early 1900s and explores the debates which have surrounded their purpose, preparation, product and implementation. A number of key issues relating to the development plan system are then identified, which have arisen at intervals over the last 50 years and which continue to arise in the contemporary system. In the light of this, the paper suggests some key questions that now need to be addressed if the development plan puzzle is to be solved.