Boyes Smith Calls for a Return to ‘Victorian Planning’ No Bye Laws were regulations without Planning

Boyes Smith in BD

“We learned technically how to build enormous sheds very cheaply, and we possibly rejected some of the organic learnings from towns and cities over millennia in an understandable desire to reject the past immediately post-war.”

He said that post-war planning rules had entangled the planning and regulatory systems, and there was now a “shift back” to a more Victorian separation of the two systems in this government’s planning reforms.

He explained: “We’ve got confused about the role of planning and the role of regulation, and we’ve put into planning things which should just be regulatory, that certainly always used to be regulatory. 

“So if you look at the 18th- or 19th-century building acts, all of the public health acts of the late 19th century – lots of the things that we now put in the planning system were essentially in the regulatory system as it was then,” he said.

A few points

Prior to the industrial era planning was organic, however ll that survives from that time was the better housing of the middle and upper classes.

In the industrial era the attempts to cram as many houses as possible in back to back yards without santitation led to the Vicorian public health movement.

The results of this however were regimented, wasteful of land and ugly. Just look at the writings of pioneers of planning such as Unwin, and the need to pass a special act of parliment to build Hamstead Garden Suburb.

Certainly the post 1948 planning systems got confused, but that was because of the removal of zoning and design regulations from the effective, but not universal system set up in the interwar planning acts. The problem was removal of certainty and regulation not its inclusion.

A return to a Victorian by law style planning system in the white paper is a mistake. It removes creativity for the system. Local plans become dry lists of regulations without vision, policy, purpose or implementation tools. They become paper plans likely to be ignored in ever more ad hoc spot zoning decisions. The way forward for planning is to unify planning and regulation, flexibility and certainty, nd not let bad history lead us int a bad system.

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