Skip Navigation Planning & Markets
Subscribe Submission Requirements Editorial Board Archive Links Search Home

IV. Market-Oriented Planning Of Type 2 - Developer-Driven Planning With State Support

The most extreme contrast to the ideal type of strong local government planning can be found in the early stages of the Thatcher period in the United Kingdom. See, for example, Thornley (1993), Harding, Wilks-Heeg, and Hutchins (2000), and Allmendinger and Tewdwr-Jones (2000). The formation of Urban Development Corporations (UDCs) meant that, in designated areas within a city, the local government lost its legal rights to determine land-use. The proposals of the UDCs only had to be approved by the central government. As business interests dominated the UDCs, the vision for the future of the area was formulated completely outside the sphere of the local government. Harding, Wilks-Heeg & Hutchins (2000, p. 980) write:

"UDCs, TECs and LECs represented a significant shift towards the 'business domination' of local regeneration and development agencies insofar as the majority of members appointed to their boards, along (usually) with their chairs, came from the private sector."

This type of market-oriented planning will be called "Thatcher Style," and its characteristics are summarised in Table 3 below. The financial position of the local government isn´t so important in this case as it has lost control over the area in question.

TABLE 3: Market-oriented Planning: Type 2 - Thatcher Style

Component The position of the local government
Visions Weak
Legal rights Weak
Financial resources Not relevant

This type of market-oriented planning can be compared to what has been called "trend planning," which Mäntysalo (1999, p.183, p. 185) describes in the following way.

"In trend planning ( ) the lead in urban structuring and renewal is handed over to the market.... The planner's attention is directed towards architecture, townscape, and details."
"The proponents of the trend planning approach - ... - expected public planning not to interfere with the amount, location and timing of commercial buildings."

However, nothing in the definition of Thatcher Style planning says that local government planners need to be involved in the kind of "essentially aesthetic control" that Mäntysalo discusses. My impression is that the private investors were very interested also in controlling design issues as these could affect the attractiveness and profitability of the projects. This also seemed to be the case in Nordic Style market-oriented planning discussed in the last section.

Allmendinger and Tewdwr-Jones (2000) make a number of observations that indicate that this type of market-oriented planning can be dynamically inconsistent: It can perhaps only be applied for a short period of time and after that it will break down.The basic reason for this is that the external investors that dominate an Urban Development Corporation will turn into owners of locally bound capital when the project is completed. To protect their investments, the private investors might want to return authority to the local arena. A new UDC that only needs approval of the central government can plan in a way that negatively affects existing areas, perhaps just by increasing supply and competition on the real estate market. The old investors might therefore support proposals that increase the power of the local government, if the investors believe that it is easier for them to affect local decisions. Even a strong right-wing government like the Thatcher government chose to give back powers to the local governments after a number of years. Fischel (2000, p. 405) notes the following in the context of American planning, and this strengthens the idea that it is difficult to reduce local power over planning.

"Proposals to have the federal government penalize local governments for unreasonable zoning standards have all died on the vine."

page 45


USC Seal

Main Page | Subscribe | Submission Requirements | Editorial Board | Archive | Links

ISSN 1548-6036

Copyright 1999-2000
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California 90089-0626