Planning, economy, place: literature review

Review of the publications and case studies regarding how planning can support the economy, and

how the economy can support creating great places.


1. "Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." Brundtland Report (Our Common Future, UN, 1987)

2. The number of responses analysed for the three consultations stages reviewed at 1.15 and 1.16 were:

  • 391 responses to the call for evidence
  • 474 responses to Places, People and Planning
  • 122 responses to the June 2017 position statement

3. The authors offer the example of a hypothetical greenbelt which improves the environment and keeps land in agricultural use (conferring environmental and economic benefits), but prevents land being used for its highest economic value of housing and extends the journeys to work of those who live beyond it (opportunity costs). This cost-benefit balance is not, their view, a frequent part of the planning process.

4. This is a neoclassical construct. Jones also notes an alternative, "property rights" economic theory which sees planning as an action in the collective self-interest.

5. For example in Firm Foundations: The Future of Housing in Scotland (Scottish Government, 2007), the first challenge identified was to increase housing supply in order to counter high house prices and thus improve affordability.

6. Contracts where a developer contributes to schools, transport, public realm and affordable housing.

7. A negative externality is a cost to a third party, ie. not the producer or consumer, for example a neighbouring interest or the wider public good.

8. Oddly, while encouraging planners to recognize themselves as 'market actors', the report does not include them among planning's stakeholders.

9. The report notes that discounted cash flows prioritise present returns over future ones, especially at high interest rates. As a coda to that point, the "social time preference" discount rate provided by HM Treasury in its Green Book is much lower than commercial rates, reflecting the longer horizons required to fully appraise and 'value' socio-economic impacts - as planning seeks to do.


11. in the UK that would place it in the 1980s

12. In 1999, The Urban Task Force report, Towards an Urban Renaissance, marked a change in UK urban policy and practice. Making the case against suburbanisation and sprawl, the Task Force promoted a holistic vision of compact multi-centred cities, re-use of brownfield land, design-led housing renewal and coordinated transport infrastructure.

13. The challenge of establishing the counterfactual - what would have happened without the project - is common to economic and social research

14. Some of the literature on place focuses into the specific topic of place competitiveness, particularly cities, then sets out the components of competitiveness and 'how to'… smart cities, knowledge cities, et cetera. Notable researchers in this area include the UK's Centre for Cities and the writer Richard Florida. This review treats city competitiveness as a separate economic development research and policy area.




18. Scottish Tourism Economic Assessment Monitor

19. Borders Railway, Year 1 Evaluation, June 2017, Transport Scotland

20. Pennywell/Muirhouse Design Guide





25. Neo-classicism is the orthodox view. Heterodox views also exist, such as Marxian economics.

26. Pre-1980, the Scottish public sector planned for and provided more than half of housing, most employment property and most infrastructure. It is probable that public sector withdrawal from these arenas has compounded the idea of planning as merely regulatory upon private sector activity.

27. Although New Lanark, founded in 1786, may be Scotland's earliest modern example of a planned economy and place.

28. The Scottish Government has commissioned a research project into Monitoring Planning Outcomes.

29. There may be a parallel here with the mandatory Strategic Environmental Assessment of development plans, paving the way perhaps for a parallel socio-economic impact assessment, and thus a triple bottom-line social, economic and environmental approach.


Email: Eric Dawson

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