A Zonal System, Can Create ‘Slums of the Future’ or World Class Communities – So why did Osborne & Clark Choose Slums

The debate about governments half hearted and poorly designed shift a zonal system has already started a debate Sadly Some major figures in British Planning might be giving  the appearance of defending the indefensibly slow and under performing discretionary British System rather than arguing for the kind of zoning systems we see in other jurisdictions that produce the most sustainable high quality communities in the world.

Take these these three photos.  One produced under a modern well resource zoning system of planning, one under a discretionary system, another under a poorly resourced planning system that does little but control land use.  Now ask yourself which system consistently produces quality housing at a greater scale than ours?

Kate Hendersen of the TCPA quoted in the guardian states that zoning would “undermine any possibility for making good quality places where people want to live.” “Our real concern is if you can’t have a conversation about things like internal space standards, accessibility and green space, we’re really risking creating slums of the future,”

But which of these three is most like the slums of the future?   the Persimmion scheme from Hull shown above created under the discretionary approach.  The first taken from Peter Hall’s last book was from a system that mandated  internal space standards, accessibility and green space”. The problem is not going for zoning system per se but the government preference for a Japanese type zoning system where only ‘the minimum of technical details are controlled.

Similarly the RTPI

“Zoning is certainly not a panacea for speed,” says Janet Askew, president of the Royal Town Planning Institute, whose research has focused on regulatory systems in planning. “It is an incredibly complex process, with zonal plans undergoing convoluted discussions before they are agreed. The fact that land is zoned for housing doesn’t mean it goes through the planning system more quickly at all.”

But there are zoning systems many in Europe that dispite taking years and are convoluted do get in the end, have higher coverage, less of a mismatch between need and zoning and manage to deliver per capita far more housing – so what are we doing wrong.  The RTPI right to highlight that good zoning requires more time and resources than zoning and that good zoning sometimes takes a long time, but still any, France, Denmark and the Netherlands manage to plan for more and better quality housing than we do and have more up to date plans.

What I would like to see from professional and campaigning bodies is a consensus that if you are to go down the zoning route then lets learn from the best in the world and do it well.  The last thing we want is a poorly resourced system like we see in the Third World and in the  rural American, Mexican, Turkish, chinese or Japenese systems where cheap apartments or little box suburbs are encouraged.

Now the government has the lesson of its last round of planning reform and not giving the impression of concreting over the countryside.  But without massive resources urban regeneration all they are doing is slightly more quickly consent for two years supply.  intention is to use this as first wedge in a reform that would see the slums of the future covering the countryside once the government argues mid term that big brownfield sites all got consent, they arnt ewe have done everything we can with limited public spending and therefore we have to extend housing zones to tghe Green Belt and Greenfield Sites, with by then large numbers of local plans being directly decided by the Secretary of State.    By then very few of the slums of the future will be built.  It will take a gneration for the introduction of Greg Clarks favellisation of British Planning


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