I reread a piece from 2009 the excellent Emergent Urbanism Blog (Mathieu Helie)
It seemed to some up many of the dilemmas and problems we now face with the shift to a localist system.
[the] problem [at] the root of the housing crisis in London, Paris and rural England. Communities are not able to grow their territory as they expand, and smaller communities with territories much greater than they need must protect their political existence by restricting the production of new housing that will threaten their political future. If, by some accident, any one of the hundreds of communes of Paris were to remove density restrictions, the result would be the entire housing demand for the region channeled in this one community, creating a population surge followed by a new political paradigm. Mayors therefore naturally block new development, and will fight proposals such as Mr. Gordon Brown’s to overrule their community’s planning regulations. Their very survival as a political community is at stake.
…The solution to the dilemma of Greater Paris and its many communities would be to create a perforated fractal Paris, with distinct communities and their distinct planning processes existing autonomously within it… the territory of Metropolitan Paris would also be perforated by a constellation of villages and perhaps some entirely artificial and experimental communities.
Cities have grown upon a political blueprint that did not adapt with the communities it planned for. This created regional crises that were followed by regional blueprints and then local crises. A dynamic territorial structure would not adopt a regional or local scale but all scales at once, nested within each other. Such a territorial structure would result in institutional simplicity while resolving regional complexities in its emergent dimension.
The problem to be solved is to create a division of the metropolis that is simultaneously local and regional, that allows local communities to grow through their own specific urban processes while making it possible to launch and plan projects at the regional scale. The divisions have to be simple enough internally that people can easily understand how they work, thus forbidding the layering of levels of governance and bureaucracies, the territorial mille-feuilles. The closest object that describes such an organization is the Sierpinski Carpet.
The Sierpinski carpet is an object that has structure at infinite levels of scale and can therefore solve problems that occur at the biggest and smallest scales. In real-world terms, it implies that a regional community has grown around small communities and towns, each with their own separate and contrasting scale. This organization recognizes that cities happen at all scales and harmonizes them into a coherent whole. It is a fractal, perforated city.
This is the kernal of an intriguing idea, that localist and regionalist spaces are complementary and must co-exist. That a regional plan must create autonomous zones within it. That it is not a question of localism or regionalism but how the two nestle to create a space at multiple scales. We we start to rebuild planning again on rational and not extreme ideological foundations ideas such as this need to come to the core.