The strategic planning process and public participation : a case study in South Yorkshire 1973-1978
The thesis presents an analysis of strategic plan-making in the metropolitan county councils during the 1970s, principally through a case study of local authority activity in South Yorkshire between 1973 and 1978. In addition to the detailed case study some original empirical material and secondary analysis was undertaken in the other metropolitan county councils (apart from London) in order to draw comparisons between planning processes and public participation. The research employed a variety of methods/ techniques including non-participant observation of many formal and informal meetings within local government, secondary analysis of published and internal documentation from local authorities in South Yorkshire and the other metropolitan areas, interviews with samples of members and officers in the five South Yorkshire local authorities and with selected planning officers in the other five metropolitan county councils. A small survey of local groups and voluntary organisations in South Yorkshire was undertaken towards the end of the time period under study. In addition, the close involvement of the researcher with the planning process gave many opportunities for informal discussion with key personnel. Towards the end of the planning period the examination in public was covered in full by attendance and recording of all sessions, together with secondary analysis of all submitted documentation and the DOE day summaries. A context is provided in the early sections, not only to the strategic planning process and planning participation but to the democratic roots of participation in politics. The empirical material is present in three sections, namely, the strategic planning process and public participation, relationships between local authorities in the two-tier system of local government in the metropolitan areas, and central-local relations. The main findings under these three heads show, respectively, that; a) professional planning staff and local councillors held distinctively different views on the nature of the planning process, on the role and nature of public participation in planning, and ultimately, on what was felt to be a justifiable and acceptable set of strategic planning policies for the county; b) the split in town planning responsibilities and functions between the two tiers of local government in the metropolitan areas led to tension and confrontation at both the technical and political level. This tension was exacerbated by the rationalistic and comprehensive approach to plan making favoured by the professional officers in the country; c) the role of central government in moulding the structure plan towards an outcome favoured by the centre (ministers and civil servants) overrode the distributional and interventionist strategy favoured by the county council leaving a trend-following, market oriented framework in place as the approved plan. A number of broader observations based on the findings conclude the study.