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Title: The effectiveness of the UK planning system in delivering sustainable development via urban intensification
Author: Williams, Katie
ISNI:       0000 0001 3569 2025
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 1997
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The purpose of this research is to establish whether the land use planning system in the UK is capable of delivering a sustainable urban form via the process of urban intensification. Sustainable development is usually defined as '... development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.' (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987). Urban intensification is a process whereby existing towns or cities become more densely built up and more intensively populated and used. The process has been promoted in the UK over the last decade or so in land use planning policy because it is seen as furthering sustainability objectives. However, there appears to be a gap in knowledge about whether intensification policies, when implemented, actually contribute to sustainability. Thus, this research attempts to answer two questions: will the urban intensification policies that are in place lead to a sustainable urban form, if implemented; and can the land use planning system alone implement these policies? To answer these questions an evaluation of policy performance and an implementation study were required. The methodology for the evaluation study is an adapted balance sheet which provides a framework for a structured analysis of intensification policies across the three main interests in planning: economic, quality of life and environment. The implementation study consists of interviews with those operationalising intensification policies, reviews of policy and observations of policies in action. These methodologies were carried out in case studies of three London boroughs. They identified the intensification policies that had been used, their impacts and how they had been implemented over a ten year period. The fmdings of the research have significant implications for the potential of intensification policies to realise sustainable development. The evaluation study found that such policies can contribute to achieving forms of urban development which are sustainable in their use of land and which enable opportunities for sustainable patterns of use, but that the planning system cannot guarantee these opportunities are realised, due to a host of intervening variables which lie outside its remit. The implementation study found that the planning system could implement intensification policies without any major changes to it, but Only if it adopts new 'tools' to help relate individual planning decisions to sustainability targets, ensures legal consistency through all the tiers of planning, develops new working coalitions and promotes increased public awareness of sustainability. The overall conclusion to the research asserts that a revised defmition of sustainable development, applicable to urban intensification, is required and offers such a definition. It states that intensification should produce development which is both 'technically' sustainable (e.g., in terms of air quality and infrastructure capacity) and acceptable to urban residents. It also suggests that the integration of the findings on policy content and implementation, if combined with a better understanding of locality, will help the planning system achieve sustainable development via urban intensification.
Supervisor: Jenks, Mike ; Wilson, Elizabeth Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Urban planning & rural planning