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Title: Planning policy and quality of life : an investigation into the relationship between planning policy and the quality of life of tenants' and residents' association members
Author: Brookfield, Katherine
ISNI:       0000 0004 2731 6590
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2012
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This study explores the relationship between planning policy and quality of life and, in doing so, contributes to long running debates occurring within the planning literature, and between planning practitioners and planning theorists, about the nature of this relationship. Specifically, the study investigates the relationship between planning policy's approach to combining residential and non-residential uses, an understudied area of policy, and the quality of life of tenants' and residents' association (TARA) members, an understudied population which frequently participates in the planning system. Within the study, quality of life is understood in terms of preference-satisfaction theory which equates the 'good' life with the satisfaction of preferences. Subsequently, where policy's aspirations for the built environment overlap with the environmental preferences of TARA members, it is assumed that policy might, when reflected in the built environment, support members' quality of life. To investigate such instances of overlap, the study first explored policy's approach to combining residential and non-residential uses through a qualitative content analysis of written policy, interviews with local authority planning officers and an analysis of planning applications and their associated decision notices. Then, to investigate the environmental preferences of TARA members, focus groups were held with a diverse sample of TARAs. These focus groups suggested ways of amending policy so that it might better satisfy members' preferences and, perhaps then, better support their quality of life. A conceptual framework was developed to begin to explore the deliverability of these amendments with data for this exercise collected from self-proclaimed representative bodies for the planning profession and housebuilding industry. In pursuing these interests, insights into a number of additional issues emerged, including, the relationship between policy as 'content' and policy as 'process', the interests, activities and spatial distribution of TARAs, the planning system's potential to support the quality of life of TARA members, and planners' and housebuilders' attitudes towards land use mix and the State's planning apparatus. Taken in its totality though, the study‘s major contribution perhaps lies in suggesting answers to the vexed question of what should be civil society's role in the planning system. In terms of land use mix, the study found that planning policy and TARA members shared a largely similar conceptualisation of the 'good' residential environment with both favouring predominantly residential areas, featuring pockets of green space, 'everyday' services, and the exclusion of most traffic generating, obtrusive and noisy uses. They also shared a similar conceptualisation of the 'good' town or city centre with both favouring land use mix, a concentration of activities and the presence of residential occupiers. Consequently, in these instances, policy perhaps seems suited to supporting the quality of life of TARA members. However, in other instances, members' preferences and policy‘s requirements were seen to diverge. Furthermore, the task of revising policy to avoid these points of divergence seems challenging. The study updates and expands knowledge on an understudied area of policy and a relatively understudied population. It presents insights into policy's approach to land use mix, and attitudes towards this approach, at a time when the planning system is experiencing considerable change with regional planning due to be abolished, neighbourhood planning introduced and a new form of national planning policy launched. The study comments on the implications for the research findings of these various developments. It also identifies environmental designs and characteristics that might be of interest to policy-makers if an objective is to address the concerns of a frequently vocal participant in the planning system (i.e. TARAs).
Supervisor: Bloodworth, Alan G. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Civil society Urban planning Compact city Residents’ groups Mixed use