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The City of Planning

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Advanced Brainstorm Carrefour (ABC): The Science of the City
Naples, March 2016

Presentation by Peter Batey

Published in: Education
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The City of Planning

  1. 1. Peter Batey Emeritus Professor of Town and Regional Planning, University of Liverpool 1909 2009 Civic Design The world’s first university planning school The City of Planning: studying how plans are made
  2. 2. Structure of presentation • What made us interested in how planners made plans? • The history of planning methods • The role of the social scientist in planning • Example 1: the Middlesbrough Survey and Plan of the 1940s • Example 2: the handling of inter-relationships in planning and the strategic choice approach • Conclusions
  3. 3. Regional science methods in planning • Forty years ago, Michael Breheny and I initiated a series of (19) workshop meetings around the theme of regional science methods in planning • Prompted by a new form of development plan, the structure plan • Practitioners were keen to learn more about how they might go about preparing these new plans, and to exchange best practice • Breheny and I had good links with practice and took a practical approach • Systematic methods – quantitative and qualitative - that could be applied at various stages in making a strategic land use plan and keeping it up to date • Concerned with the ‘how’ of plan-making, rather than the content of plans
  4. 4. The history of planning methods • The experience of running the workshops, which later extended to the Netherlands and Germany made us both curious about how planners in the past had gone about preparing plans • We discovered that this was a gap in planning history, despite its central importance to what planning is about • There are benefits from planners learning from past experience for several reasons • We decided to organize a history of planning methodology workshop, focusing again on methods in practice
  5. 5. Some questions • How did planners set about making plans? • What process did they follow and to what extent was there a common approach? • What methods did they use in collecting, analyzing and using data? • What role was there for social scientists in the planning process?
  6. 6. Subjects and sources 1 • Development of planning methods in Britain and North America since the early 1900s • Periods when there was intensive activity in the development of new methods, e.g. 1940s, 1960s • Rationality in planning • The role of surveys in plan-making • The role of particular local authorities as sources of innovation in planning methods
  7. 7. Subjects and sources 2 • Grey literature on how plans are made • Practitioners don’t tend to write papers or publish • Reviews of plans in the professional magazines • Drawing upon contributions from a number of key practitioners, by then retired, in the form of memoir presentations, leading to valuable dialogue between senior practitioners and those whose involvement in planning was more recent
  8. 8. More recent work • Since the early 1980s, a literature on the history of plan-making has developed steadily • A good example is the book by Boyce and Williams (2015) on urban travel demand forecasting; • In the last year or so, I have taken the opportunity to re-kindle my interests in the history of planning methods
  9. 9. The role of the social scientist in plan-making 1 • The social survey: origins, purposes, scope and methodology, Pittsburgh, New York, London, York. • The scientific city – George Ford (1913) • In the UK, the so-called ‘daring experiments’ of wartime and the immediate post-war period: plan-making based on applied social science research; geographers and sociologists are added to the planning team. • Example: the Middlesbrough Survey and Plan (1946)
  10. 10. The scientific city • Pittsburgh social survey of 1907 inspired many American city planners to embark upon systematic data collection exercises. • This trend reinforced by scientific management movement – Taylorism- from 1911 onwards • Early planners wanted to impress their civic leaders – a scientific diagnosis of a city’s problems, helped give the new field of planning some status • The ‘city scientific’ promoted as a counterbalance to the ‘city beautiful’, but oversold
  11. 11. The role of the social scientist in plan-making 1 • The social survey: origins, purposes, scope and methodology, Pittsburgh, New York, London, York. • The scientific city – George Ford (1913) • In the UK, the so-called ‘daring experiments’ of wartime and the immediate post-war period: plan-making based on applied social science research; geographers and sociologists are added to the planning team. • Example: the Middlesbrough Survey and Plan (1946)
  12. 12. Example 1: Middlesbrough, North-East England, mid-1940s
  13. 13. The Middlesbrough Survey and Plan 1946 • The Middlesbrough Survey and Plan was the most comprehensive attempt in the UK to bring the skills of social scientists to the plan-making process. • Led by the architect-planner Max Lock, a long-time disciple of Patrick Geddes, the plan pioneered the use of surveys, neighbourhood classification methods and catchment area analysis. It included a public attitude survey covering 1 in 23 of the population. • Lock considered that the planner could no longer work as a narrow technical practitioner, but needed to collaborate with other disciplines, particularly the ‘science of sociology.’
  14. 14. The Middlesbrough Survey and Plan 1946 • Lock believed passionately that plan-making should involve dialogue with ordinary people who were the client for the plan. Citizens’ panels were formed to gauge public opinion on redevelopment proposals. • Jaqueline Tyrwhitt mobilised a team of APRR workers, including the sociologist, Ruth Glass and the urban geographer, Arthur Smailes to work on the plan. • Synthesised survey findings transferred on to map overlays, enabling them to be studied , enabling them to be studied in combination (a method first used in the US?) • This approach was useful in formulating plan itself, providing an evidence trail with which to support plan proposals.
  15. 15. The Middlesbrough Plan • Ruth Glass was one of the first planners to use census enumeration districts as the basis for planning neighbourhoods. • Her work focused on neighbourhoods in Middlesbrough and their housing stock and identified which areas would need most urgent attention.
  16. 16. Present population density
  17. 17. Eventual population density
  18. 18. Max Lock and the Middlesbrough Plan • “Planning is chiefly a matter of urban diplomacy…..My colleagues and I came to Middlesbrough and met and consulted thousands of citizens. From all sources a wealth of valuable information was placed at our disposal, sifted down and presented in the form of maps, diagrams, tables and detailed reports. • A plan or policy for every aspect of town life. • First by survey and diagnosis which, once begun, becomes a continuous process. • Secondly, by imaginative action……. • Thirdly, by good publicity…….”
  19. 19. Max Lock and the Middlesbrough Plan • “Thinking people have come to appreciate that town planning is a combination of exact science and intuitive art; that its method is based on equal ingredients both in accurate measurement and of human understanding.
  20. 20. The role of the social scientist in plan-making 2 • The Schuster Report (1950) in the UK and the opening-up of planning education to social scientists: the planning team, in practice a division of functions with social scientists employed for their research skills. • The failure to maintain momentum in the 1950s: why? • English structure planning in the 1970s: an eclectic mix of planning techniques with some important shortcomings. • Learning from practice: the role of ex-post evaluation in urban regeneration; advantages and limitations of a standard approach to evaluation; evidence-based planning: the latter-day planning survey? The What Works centre movement.
  21. 21. Example 2: The handling of inter- relationships in planning ‘Planners have become prisoners of the discovery that in the city everything affects everything else’ Lowdon Wingo (1964)
  22. 22. The handling of inter-relationships in planning • Became fashionable in 1960s: urban development models, systems approach, etc • Had much earlier antecedents in Patrick Geddes’ thinking machines and the notion of ‘folk-work –place’ and inter-relationships between these elements • Interesting example of the ‘strategic choice approach’ to inter-related decisions
  23. 23. The strategic choice approach 1 • Institute of Operational Research (IOR) formed in 1963 by British operational researchers keen to apply their expertise to public policy • Study of local government in Coventry, leading to publication of key text: Local Government and Strategic Choice, by Friend and Jessop, 1969 • Soft OR techniques used to improve local government decision-making
  24. 24. The strategic choice approach 2 Two techniques found widespread application among planners: • AIDA, the analysis of inter-connected decision areas, a flexible,, intuitive and systematic tool that could be used in generating and comparing alternative strategies (a priority for planners at the time) • Analyzing and managing uncertainty in planning based on threefold classification of uncertainty (UE, UV and UR)
  25. 25. The strategic choice approach 3 • Strategic choice approach differed from most strategic planning at the time in that it focused on the ‘here and now’ rather than attempting to anticipate a future world • Took a practical approach to decisions planners would have to make • Practical applications demonstrated its worth, Planning Under Pressure textbook has 15 case studies from around the world, but not the US!
  26. 26. The strategic choice approach 4 • The missing link with academia: although there was collaboration with academics over 50 years the strategic choice approach is very much a creature of practice: practitioners learning from other practitioners • Applied research projects • One of the most influential methodological developments since the 1960s and one of the best documented!
  27. 27. Conclusions • Throughout the last hundred years, planners have sought to bring science to the way they make plans for the city • Fashion, and quest for respectability, have sometimes led to a more scientific approach to plan-making • Studying how they did this is an important but so far neglected topic in planning history. It benefits from a practice-oriented approach

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