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Plan vs. Process: The Case of Neighbourhood Planning

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One of the hallmarks of the New Urbanist movement is the idea that cities ought to be planned as a series of physically delineated neighbourhoods. But there is a conflict between the attempt to align neighbourhoods as physical plans, based on normative theory, with neighbourhood planning as an open-ended process guided by citizens. Neighbourhood plans are valued for their forethought and tangibility, but it is unclear how they might integrate with a bottom-up process designed to empower residents. This review article summarizes the debate that exists between neighbourhood plans vs. neighbourhood planning as a process of community engagement. I summarize the tension between planning for a specified end state and 'neighbourhood planning' that is process-oriented and not reliant on any particular physical outcome. The former is viewed as 'top-down' and harmful, and there is ample evidence that neighbourhood plans have been used to override resident desires. To critics, planned neighbourhoods will always be too controlling, antithetical to 'authentic', self-managed neighbourhoods. But to others, neighbourhood plans are the antidote to placelessness, social detachment, and urban sprawl. I conclude by considering whether both approaches might be integrated, incorporating bottom-up generation in tandem with planned physical ideals.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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