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It’s Their City: Participatory Planning and the Localism Act

Part 2 Dissertation 2014
Tom Burton
Kingston University Kingston | UK
Starting with the notion that we aspire to build cities for people to live in, It’s Their City is about planning urban environments and handing responsibility for doing so to people who have no professional interest in it. It’s relevant because the Coalition Government recently passed the first legal mechanism for this devolution in the history of English town planning, the 2011 Localism Act. At its heart is the principle of participatory planning; the tantalising notion of giving power over the built environment to the people that live in it. The passing of this Act gives us reason to believe that participation may be a central element of the way that we plan in future.

There are three parts to this dissertation. Firstly it examines planning as an abstract notion, and as an evolving field of techniques. Secondly it focuses on participatory planning: what its apparent resurgence says about our society, and what challenges we face in making use of it. Finally we look at the concrete expression of the Localism Act in selected case studies, and how this legislation is beginning to shape, and reshape, the environment we live in.

It’s Their City has the same (ostensible) aspirations as the Localism Act: to present planning as relevant and interesting, but also accessible and easy to become involved in. It is also a study of trends in our modern attitudes to forming the social organism of a city, from the spectre of self-interest in NIMBYism to a wider zeitgeist of local involvement, devolution of power and our increasing demands for self-determination.

Tom Burton

David Lawrence
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