Regulation and regeneration : how do development plans affect urban regeneration? a case study analysis of two Urban Development Corporations and the emerging Unitary Development Plans of their component local authorities
Urban Development Corporations (UDCs) are perhaps the most outstanding examples of government action in the field of urban regeneration in the last twenty years. In order to promote regeneration UDCs were given development control powers over Urban Development Areas (UDAs). These powers were taken from local government and this caused well-documented resentment in many cases. However, local government retained all development plan-making powers. Following two town planning acts (in 1990 and 1991) central government gave the development plan more power in the development control process (through Section 54A). This created a situation in an UDA where, in relation to development control, the UDC had to have regard to a development plan that had been written by a local authority; often a local authority with which it had not seen eye to eye in planning matters. Thus there was a potential for conflict between an UDC and a local authority in both strategic and specific planning issues. There was possible tension between regulation (the development plan) and regeneration (the strategy and aims of the UDC). Most local authorities in urban areas were replacing old style development plans with new Unitary Development Plans which further complicated the issue. It became vitally important for UDCs to have an input to these emerging plans that the local authorities were preparing, in order to ensure that their aims and objectives for the UDAs would not be hindered by the new UDPs, which were to play a greater role in the development control process. This research firstly examines the concept of both the development plan and urban regeneration. It then presents the important links between the two in relation to the experience of UDCs. A series of questions are generated through the literature review which are answered in the final part of the work. Using these theoretical and practical standpoints as a basis, a conceptual framework for the study of the UDP preparation process, content and relationship between the local authorities and the UDCs with regard to the emerging plans is produced. It is formulated through theoretical study of literature concerning policy analysis and organisational relationships. In order to examine what occurred in the real world, this framework is then applied two case study areas - Tyne / Wear and London Docklands. Each area had a designated UDC over parts of composite unitary local authorities. The respective UDAs spread across a total of seven local authorities. The conceptual framework for this study was applied to the situation between the UDC and each of the seven local authorities in order to examine differences in working practices, differences in policy process and content, and differences in the relationships between the two organisations. UDCs were finally wound up in April 1998, and in the current climate it is unlikely that urban regeneration will ever be promoted in such a way again. However there are many important lessons to be learnt from the experience of UDCs and the development planning system. These are particularly pertinent to existing urban regeneration authorities such as English Partnerships and also to any possible citywide or regional development agencies. This study presents the range of practices that were evident in the case studies and examines what structured them. It concludes by outlining the most appropriate and relevant methods that were employed and making suggestions for better working practices in the future.