The spatial planning approach has become accepted as the progressive theoretical and professional currency in England following the 2004 Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act. The reforms which followed sought considerable change in the remit of planning and the approach to community engagement. However, an often overlooked component of the spatial planning approach is development management; and yet it is potentially of most relevance to the challenges of neighbourhood planning and community resilience.
Development management focuses upon outcomes (i.e. meeting needs) rather than outputs (the implications of permitting/refusing development - normatively related to the regulatory ‘DC’ function). The methodological approach is based around a more varied and multi-faceted concept than in the reactive past. A key part of this relates to the way in which community participation occurs and decision making takes place. This artcile discusses the concept that empowering communities through early engagement, support for community led initiatives/plans, Local Development Orders, and enhanced delegated decision making at the Parish level are examples of localism before Localism, and highlight the contemporary relevance of the development management approach.
It is suggested, therefore, that rather than requiring a planning revolution, the current changes represent an opportunity to firstly recognise and secondly utilise existing tools to support community planning. Implementing further significant change in the planning system may not be in anyone’s best interest, least of all for the resilience of those communities it seeks to empower.
This article explores the evolution of the development management approach and its significance in the context of the proposed neighbourhood planning systems, including Neighbourhood Plans and Development Orders, the Community Right to Build, and community engagement and participation methods.