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Planning, housing and participation in Britain, 1968-1976

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The history of planning and social housing in post-war Britain has been dominated by the role of the state, local government, professionals (planners, architects, civil servants) and developers. This is hardly surprising, given that the partnerships created around these groups dominated the slum clearance and building process. The tenants have been absent from the 'history' because they were missing from the process. However, in the 1960s and 1970s the concept of participation began to emerge. It grew from broader social and cultural changes brought about through the emergence of welfare, consumerism and an ever greater awareness of 'rights'. The idea of participation was to increase participatory democracy by involving people in the planning process, by recognizing their rights to be involved in decisions which impacted on their lives. The state promoted the idea through legislation, but in practice the concept proved difficult to implement. Local authorities saw participation, at best, as a means of smoothing the planning process through the dissemination of ideas, thus limiting any scope for meaningful participation schemes. This article will look at the tension between the ideal and practice. It will also consider the reaction of many tenants who, frustrated at the attitude and policies forced on them by local government, became galvanized into action, creating tenant groups that would give their communities a voice.
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Keywords: Britain; consultation; housing; local authority; participation; planning; social policy; tenant; urban

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of History, Welsh History and Archaeology, Bangor University, Bangor, UK

Publication date: 2011-01-01

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