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Disinegrated development of the built and natural environment


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Disinegrated development of the built and natural environment

  1. 1. Bulletin of theInstitute of Ecologyand EnvironmentalManagement Issue 75 | March 2012 Planning Reform and Biodiversity In this issue A Cunning Plan… EcIAs: The Spirit Versus Using BREEAM Assessments or a Plan too Far? the Letter of the Law? to Deliver Benefits for Urban Wildlife
  2. 2. Feature Article: Exposing, Exploring and Navigating the Built and Natural Environment Divide in Public Policy and PlanningExposing, Exploring andNavigating the Built andNatural Environment Dividein Public Policy and PlanningProfessor Alister ScottProfessor of Spatial Planning and Governance, Birmingham City UniversityIntroductionAn important ingredient for the management of theenvironment and its biodiversity is an effective andintegrated planning system that provides clarity andcertainty for the long-term. However, this goal hasbeen seriously hindered by the way planning for thebuilt and natural environment has been artificiallyseparated leading to ‘disintegrated planning’, withfar-reaching consequences for the way planningis delivered across environmental, economic andsocial policy domains. This paper exposes the natureof this planning divide with particular reference tothe challenges facing the delivery of biodiversity.There is an urgent need for the co-production ofmore joined-up and inclusive approaches to the waywe develop policy and manage our environment,set within an improved dialogue between thoseworking and living in and across the built andnatural environments.The Nature of the DivideTable 1 shows graphically the prevalence of thisdivide through the lenses of the built and thenatural environment using examples from the WestMidlands region. This reveals two different planningsystems in England; one that focuses on the naturalenvironment1 and one that focuses on the builtenvironment. These systems were formalised withinthe 1947 Town and Country Planning Act wherekey government reports by Scott (1942)2 and to illustrate the different ideas and spatialities which within their contemporary planning practice.Barlow (1940)3 provided the rationale for creating manufacture and intensify the divide in theory, They see it as ‘something environmentalists do’.a divide between the built and natural environment. policy and delivery. Within each row of the table we Conversely, the environmentalists are equallyThus we have the twin ideas of controlling urban see different responses and boundaries of concern unfamiliar with spatial planning; they tend to viewdevelopment via a system of restraint (town reflecting how serious this divide has become, with planning only as through the perceived negativityand country planning system via development different philosophical roots, theories, agencies, of development plan policies and developmentplan and control procedures), whilst supporting tools and vocabularies employed. Yet, seemingly, control. However, both views fail to recogniseagriculture and forestry production through a both with the intent to achieve similar outcomes in the more positive aspects of contemporarysystem of incentives (resource planning system via terms of sustainable land management. planning and environmental practice, which togovernment subsidy). These opposing objectives some extent must relate back to how well weof ‘supporting’ and ‘controlling’ establish the This divide is at its most obvious when engaging communicate these ideas within our respectivefoundation of this divide, which has largely shaped with planners and environmentalists in various policy environments.the evolution of separate institutional landscapes meetings and workshops to progress their policythereafter. The specifics of this divide are exposed imperatives. The planners have little idea of thein Table 1 and, through the use of examples, serve ecosystem approach, least of all how to use it20
  3. 3. The vocabulary and jargon across this divide are Local Government) do little to cross this divide. Yet, this is not happening as initiatives tend toso different that we might as well be on different Indeed, their separate policy developments (Natural be pursued separately. It is noteworthy, however,planets; such is the depth of this divide. Crucially, Environment White Paper and National Planning within Table 1, that the Black Country regionthere are few people championing the need for Policy Framework) respectively fail to cross connect bucks this trend with a marked degree of policycloser harmony between the two approaches; or reference each other, whilst their favoured policy convergence, which is most welcome (Green Belt,our preoccupation and present work culture of instruments tend to look inward rather than across Nature Improvement Area, Enterprise Zone). Thisguarding and championing particular institutional the divide, championing their own particular policy also reflects the conventional wisdom that for thesilos, academic disciplines, policy initiatives and initiative; whether it be Nature Improvement Areas delivery of sustainable policy you need integratedoutcome targets hinders new ways of working. In (NIAs), Green Belts, Local Enterprise Partnerships approaches that tackle social, economic andmany respects, these artificially imposed boundaries or Enterprise Zones. The common ingredients environmental priorities collectively and not inactually hinder good planning. Yet it is difficult to emerging only include habitat banking and the isolation. The clear identity and geography of thebreak out of such thinking. proposed green space designation. Surely, more area with planning and environmental initiatives account could have been made between the focussed collectively therein will not necessarilyIt is important to note that at the national greenbelt and NIAs to increase the areas positively produce joined-up outcomes unless there islevel the different government departments managed for nature conservation benefits, effective communication and dialogue between(Department for Environment, Food and Rural improving co-ordinated policy responses. all of these converging strands.Affairs, and Department for Communities andTable 1. The divided views of the built and the natural environment using examples from the West Midlands region Principle Natural Environment lens Built Environment lens Rationale Incentives: Control • Environmental Stewardship • Planning permission • Catchment Sensitive Farming • Building Regulations • Energy Crops Scheme • Listed building consent • English Woodland Grant Scheme • Heritage Management plan grants System Resource Planning Town and Country Planning Agriculture, Forestry and Water: rural centric Built environment: urban centric Policy Framework Natural Environment National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) White Paper (NEWP) / Biodiversity 2020 Government Department Defra Communities and Local Government Delivery Bodies Quangos (Forestry Commission, Local Authorities (Neighbourhoods) Environment Agency, Natural England) Approach Ecosystem Approach Spatial Planning Focus Classify and value Order and zone • National Vegetation Classification • Use Class Orders • Phase ½ habitats Assessments • Areas of development restraint Tools National Ecosystem Assessment Sustainability Assessments / Strategic Environmental Assessments Boundaries Integrated Biodiversity Delivery Areas Local Authority areas, West Midlands e.g. Wye Severn and Avon Vales IBDA Birmingham City Council; Coventry City Council; Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council ; Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council; Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council; Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council; Wolverhampton City Council; Instruments Nature Improvement Areas Green Belts Through to 2nd stage of current competitive bids • irmingham, the Black Country and Coventry, B (incorporating Rugby, Leamington Spa, Warwick, • Wye Valley NIA – (catchment) Alcester, Kidderminster, Bridgnorth, Telford, Rugeley, • Warwickshire Coventry and Solihull NIA - Lichfield and Nuneaton) (Wetland/wood/urban) • North Staffordshire conurbation • Birmingham and Black Country Living Landscapes - • Burton (Urban/wetland/river/heath) Enterprise zones  • Meres and Mosses of the Marches – (wetland) • Birmingham city centre • Black Country • Rotherwas Enterprise Zone Hereford • Warwickshire’s MIRA Technology Park (MTP) in Nuneaton Partnerships Local Nature Partnerships Local Enterprise partnerships Successful applications for capacity building fund from Defra: • reater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise G • 1st round: Birmingham and the Black Country; Staffordshire Partnership Includes: Birmingham, Solihull, Redditch, Wyre Forest, East Staffordshire, Lichfield, Tamworth, • nd round applications made by: Shropshire Telford 2 Bromsgrove and Cannock in addition to Birmingham and Wrekin, Herefordshire, Warwickshire and Solihull Councils * pplication for LNP status is in early 2012 and the results A will be announced in June 2012. 21
  4. 4. Feature Article: Exposing, Exploring and Navigating the Built and Natural Environment Divide in Public Policy and PlanningThis exception, however, should not mask the fact that there are significant disconnects which hindereffective planning for the environment. The issue of scale is crucial here as different boundaries are imposedby agencies for planning involving different groups, stakeholders and partnerships. So, for example,the recently introduced Integrated Biodiversity Delivery Areas developed by Natural England do notsquare with any other spatial or administrative boundaries across the built environment.Furthermore, the recently enabled Greater The team comprised experts who worked in either a simpler conceptual framework within whichBirmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise spatial planning or the ecosystem approach or to start crossing the divide in theory (Figure 3)Partnership pursuing the economic development had a particular interest in the rural-urban fringe. (Carter and Scott 2011).agenda does not have any environmental The development of a research team uniting ‘Time’ focuses on the need for taking a long-representation. Here, the view that the environment across conventional boundaries of natural and term view and vision, moving away from theis separate from the enterprise agenda prevails, social sciences, urban and rural domains, policy pre-occupation with short-termism that createsechoing George Osborne’s statement that they and academia is seen as particularly important uncertainty and reactive opportunism in favour ofare a brake on development. However, if one in building an acceptable framework to navigate a long-term and inclusive vision that looks somelooks at the immense body of scientific research and cross the divide. The subsequent journey then 50 years ahead. Ironically that focus of planning is,emerging from the recent UK National Ecosystem involved each team member writing their own seemingly, what all stakeholders want to aid long-Assessment, it reveals that the natural environment reflective paper(s) on their experiences in spatial term investment decisions which is good for people,brings billions of pounds into the economy each planning and/or the ecosystem approach. This place and the environment. However, as well asyear and is, therefore, a key asset which should be enabled the co-production of a composite working looking forward there is also the need to look backembedded in Local Enterprise Partnerships (National paper that captured emerging synergies of the two and learn lessons from past approaches in order toEcosystem Assessment, 2011). We then have the approaches (Figure 2). plan effectively.somewhat farcical situation of Local Nature andLocal Enterprise Partnerships developing policy and Figure 2. Synergies between Spatial Planning ‘Connections’ is concerned with understandingstrategy without connecting with each other. This and the Ecosystem Approach the complex pattern of relationships betweenmerely intensifies the nature of the divide leading and within groups of people, places and theto future conflict positions. Our research as part • New ways of thinking environment across the different scales of operationof the Relu programme4 explicitly addresses this • Holistic frameworks and governance. This shifts the focus of attentiondivide through a concerted attempt to synchronise away from places to consider the flows and linkages • Cross-sectoralthe ecosystem approach with spatial planning in that maintain and bind particular systems and • Multi-scalarthe rural-urban fringe; the fuzzy and messy place environments together. So as well as negotiatingwhere the built and natural environments and their • Negotiating across global, European, national, regional,respective planning systems converge and where • Enabling landscape, local and neighbourhood scales,the divide is at its most obvious (Scott and Carter • Long term perspective there is also the need to link across economic,2011). The starting point in the research was to • Connectivity environmental, social and cultural an effective dialogue across the divide through • Governance This requires understanding the bigger picturethe recruitment of a team of academics and and not focussing on any one single scale; • Inclusivepolicy-makers (Figure 1). in effect breaking down artificial boundaries. • Equity goalsFigure 1. Building an Interdisciplinary Team5 • Regulatory ‘Values’ are about understanding and unpacking • Market-orientated the core norms and fundamental beliefs that we • Prof Alister Scott PI BCU as a society hold, together with the professional • Dr Mark Reed CI Aberdeen values inherent within the built and natural • Prof Richard Coles CI BCU Further discussion prioritised these points of environment professions, as well as the wider intersection within three cross-cutting themes publics. Of particular importance is the current • Dr Nick Morton CI BCU fixation on trying to impose economic values on that were seen to capture the key challenges for • Dr Rachel Curzon CI BCU policy in both the Ecosystem and Spatial Planning the environment concomitant with the danger • Claudia Carter CI BCU* approaches (Time, Connections and Values). that we tend to only value what we measure as However, the adoption of these terms made opposed to measuring what we actually value. • Nicki Schiessel CI BCU* them more intelligible and accessible across the different professions and the public. So rather than Crossing the Divide • Claudia Carter Forest Research confront the complex vocabulary and jargon of the In the final section I want to illustrate three Ecosystem Approach and Spatial Planning we have examples in our current research where we have • David Collier NFU crossed the divide linking the built and natural • David Jarvis/Ben Stonyer DJA Consultants environment together using our framework • Ruth Waters/Andrew Hearl Natural England Figure 3. Conceptual Framework to Cross (Figure 3). First, it is clear that we need to engage the Built and Natural Environment Divide the public more effectively in planning and • aren Leach/Chris Crean K Localise West Midlands environmental debate. Consequently, we have developed a learning tool called RUFopoly. • Miriam Kennet Green Economics Institute • eith Budden/Nick Grayson K Birmingham Environment Partnership • ob Foster B West Midlands Rural Affairs Forum • ark Middleton M Worcestershire County Council, West Midlands Regional Assembly22
  5. 5. This allows people to make their own journey This is a pot of money that will accrue from It may well take the proverbial interdisciplinaryof discovery across a hypothetical rural-urban development that can be put to use to benefit the bastard to do this but in our challenging timesfringe (RUFshire), encountering challenges and community in more flexible ways than the current we need to start building more secure bridgesopportunities and making decisions in response Section 106 planning agreements allow. If we are in order to cross the divides and so deliver theto the square they land on (Figure 4). Players able to better capture what the community values kind of joined-up planning we all want andencounter questions relating to values, time, in terms of local biodiversity and environment, increasingly need.connections or spatial planning and ecosystem then it logically follows that, with the necessaryservices that all reflect real issues encountered community support, this money could be put to Acknowledgementsby our team over the course of the research. innovative uses to help maintain and enhance 1. he arguments in this paper stem from research TThe game is usually played with a guide or can biodiversity. For example, moorlands provide carbon funded under the UK Research Councils Ruralbe self-recorded to document the decisions and stores, clean water, flood protection, recreation Economy and Land Use Programme ‘Managingsupporting reasons of each player’s journey. The and tourism and an awareness of the wide range Environmental Change at the Rural-Urbangame finishes with the player constructing their of functions and the interdependencies are likely Fringe’; a collaboration between the Economicown vision for RUFshire based only on their previous to lead to more sustainable management of the and Social Research Council, the Naturaldecisions. This final step helps eliminate (implicit) resource. At present our costing systems do not Environment Research Council and thepriorities and/or biases within individuals. The build these factors in; so the natural environment Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Researchlearning involved allows people to experience the is unlikely to receive any CIL funding. However, Council, with additional funding from Defraplanning problems of an area and understand the by crossing the divide and using the National and the Scottish Government.range of pressure and opportunities facing the Ecosystems Assessment explicitly within spatial 2. hanks are due to Claudia Carter Trural urban fringe. As such they are engaging with planning tools this can become a reality. (Birmingham City University),the core ingredients of spatial planning and the who commented on an earlier draft.ecosystem approach. 3. ELU grant award for ‘Managing Environmental R Change at the Fringe’ – ES/H037217/1Figure 4. RUFopoly game as showcased at the recent Relu conference in Newcastle Notes 1. ithin England the natural environment is a W complete misnomer as nothing is entirely natural. The conventional wisdom distinguishes between agriculture, forestry and biodiversity within the ‘natural’ domain. 2. cott Report (1942) Land Utilisation in S Rural Areas Cmd. 6378. London, HMSO. 3. arlow Report (1940) Report of the Royal B Commission on the Distribution of Industrial Population Cmd. 6153. London, HMSO. 4. elu is the Rural Economy and R Land Use Programme which is an interdisciplinary research programme to maximise policy impact on pressing rural problems. 5. arter and Schiessel recently joined the *C team as Co-Investigators. References Carter C and Scott AJ (2011) Spatial Planning and the New Environmental Governance, Government Gazette. October 2011, p46-47. National Ecosystem Assessment (2011) The UK Conclusion National Ecosystem Assessment: Synthesis of theThe second example concerns the use of Green Key Findings. UNEP-WCMC, Cambridge.Infrastructure (GI) and Concept Plans. GI is a At present we have a significant divide between thepowerful tool that does cross over the divide and way we plan for the built and natural environments. Scott AJ and Carter C (2011) The Rural Urbanis now widespread in planning and environmental This is hindering the delivery of biodiversity as plans Fringe Forgotten Opportunity Space? Town andpolicy. Worcestershire Green Infrastructure and strategies are being developed in isolation Country Planning (May/June 2011), p231-234.Partnership has developed concept statements from each other, creating disconnects and missedto progress this. These set out the environmental opportunities. It is important to recognise that theconstraints and functional opportunities for key environment is part of the development jigsaw anddevelopment sites. The process has been led by the not some add-on. We need to move away from About the AuthorStrategic Planning and Environmental Policy team agency insularity and use more inclusive processes Alister Scott is Professor of Spatial Planning andof the County Council and the plans have been and partnerships to help integrate the economy, Governance at Birmingham City University. Heendorsed by the GI Partnership members including society and environment as opposed to the current is a social scientist, geographer and charteredstatutory consultees. The Concept Plans are based tendency to ‘disintegrate’ it. In this way we can planner with research interests centred around the start to see the bigger picture - but that requires changing nature of governance and partnerships.on primary baseline data and the multifunctional His research particularly focuses on the wayscharacteristics of each site involving the a leap of faith through dialogue, understanding, sustainable development has been conceptualisedidentification and mapping of GI assets. The process listening and, above all, the ability to break down and operationalised. Alister’s research work exploresincluded workshops involving key stakeholders the artificial boundaries we all too often impose themes including specialist sustainable rural landto integrate GI within a masterplan development on our work practices. Our research on the use, spatial planning, public engagement andto maximise connectivity for people, place and rural-urban fringe is only the start of this process. landscape problems. He is currently leading aenvironment. These Concept Plans represent a Applying this to the specifics of the West Midlands research-council funded project ‘Managing changeproactive planning tool which is now being included it seems crucial that the emerging Local Enterprise at the rural-urban fringe’ as part of the RELUin Core Strategies. Partnerships and Local Neighbourhood Plans cross initiative (Rural Economy and Land Use). fertilise; that there is a dialogue between the twoA third example stems from the potential of the Contact Alister at: faces of the divide. Infrastructure Levy (CIL). 23