Question spatial segregation ensures existing HGV movements

Question A

Securing social order has long been a utilisation of planning. In
this case-study, evidence exists, both supporting and refuting the contention
that planners are ‘obsessed’ with securing social order.

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The strongest evidence implying an obsession with social order, is
the decision regarding the “erection of steel gates” (Officers-Report, 2009:p1)
around the site, making it “gated and surrounded” (Ibid, p8), indicating a
desire to segregate the site from its local area within a literal, gated
community. Such an approach, it could be argued, secures spatial social order via
ensuring this proposal does not impact surrounding light industry, as spatial
segregation ensures existing HGV movements are unimpeded by the family’s
presence. This segregation also limits the family’s integration to local
communities, perhaps out of desire to segregate the gypsy family, who may be
perceived as deviant and dangerous, from the safe, ordered purified local
community (Sennett, 2008). This mirrors a wider perceived initiative to produce
segregated gypsy-only areas under circular 30/2007 (Officers-Report, 2009), to
produce social order.

Furthermore, the proposals conditions are strict and regimental,
enforcing social order. Spatially the site’s layout is strictly defined, with
set numbers of caravans and vehicles only allowed within designated areas (PINS,
2009). Likewise socially, only limited numbers of named residents may inhabit
the site, whilst behaviour is governed by reasonable conduct policies (Officers-Report,
2009). Such regulations, arguably, have been implemented to ensure the
‘unorderly’ gypsy community cannot “dominate the nearest settled community” (Officers-Report,
2009:p5), resultantly limiting social problems, ensuring social order continues
within the area. Further conditions have also acted to ensure social order remains
secure, including safeguarding access to the public highway, via ensuring site
gates open inwards, and including the site on local waste collection routes,
even if inconvenient for these services, to limit potential impacts of the
proposal upon social order.

However, contrasting evidence suggesting planners are not
necessarily ‘obsessed’ with social order is also present. Arguably planners
here are acting in the interests of an alternative lifestyle group that does
not abide by the norm, “the projection of the model of order upon human
conduct” (Bauman, 2005:p106). Doing so requires planners to make decisions
conflicting ‘social norms’, resultantly creating potential social disorder or
conflict like the objections and concerns raised by neighbours, including waste
dumping and increased crime (Officers-Report, 2009). The proposal Is also
“highly vulnerable” (Officers-Report, 2009:p5) to flooding, and its approval
highlights a clear contradiction of the land use zoning implemented to produce
social order within planning.

In conclusion, evidence both supporting and refuting an obsession with
securing social order exists. ‘The planner’ in this case-study has facilitated
an alternative lifestyle despite its negative impacts, however they have done
so in a manner securing the lowest possible impact to social order via their conditions,
which have moderated the proposal and shaped its form. It is therefore unfair
to suggest planners are ‘obsessed’ with social order, and more apt to suggest
they strongly advocate and desire social order, but will compromise to some
extent to facilitate alternative lifestyles.

Word
Count: 500

 

 

 

Question B

The term ‘public interest’ and its use within planning has come to
employ numerous operational definitions, relating to providing positive
outcomes to particular interests, for particular groups representing the public
(Meyerson and Banfield, 1955). However, from a utilitarian perspective of public
interest, which states interests are subjective and perceives the public as the
sum of its individuals (Campbell and Marshall, 2002), this case-study overtly represents
how planning does not always act towards the public interest.

This is illustrated by the repeated use of terminology, citing how
such a proposal is only allowed due to the “exceptional circumstances of the
applicant and his immediate family” (Officers-Report, 2009:p9), stating if
planning permission were refused the family would “become homeless” (ibid: p7).
The decision to locate the family in this area has also been taken out of the
desire to facilitate that “younger children…attend…the same school as elder
ones” (Design Access Statement, 2009:p5), that family members can continue with
their jobs, and children are potentially granted permanent nursery placements.
Whilst these are legitimate points, they are not related to the wider public
interest. This proposals decision has therefore acted in the interests of this
small group of individuals, at the expense of many other individuals within the
wider public who are negatively impacted by this proposal. This clearly acts
against the utilitarian public interest, which views the public as the sum of
its individuals, as decisions are not made to benefit the greatest number of
individuals possible.

Such negative impacts of this proposal are outlined in seven
letters from various neighbours. Concerns include “additional waste being
dumped”, the sites isolated nature, “curtailment of the activities of
established businesses”, and the “unfair burden placed upon nearby premises…to
secure…their sites” (Officers-Report, 2009:p2). These represent potential
hazards to the production of social order, both spatial and social, representing
concerns of the ‘wider public’, which have been ignored due to “the urgent
accommodation need and lack of alternative sites outweighing these
concerns” (Officers-Report, 2009:p7). This clearly illustrates how the
exceptional needs of a family, no matter the impacts upon wider subjective public
interests, are this proposals primary concern, superseding their ‘requirement’
to act in the subjective public interest, as they appear to disregard potential
impacts upon businesses and individuals outside of the family, which have
clearly been expressed.

Local government and consulted external bodies involved in the
planning process to ensure public interest remains at the heart of decisions,
also raised notable objections but were ignored in favour of providing in the
interest of only the family involved. Both councillors Trigg and Critchley have
outlined concerns, regarding the potential negative impacts upon the wider
public if more families move onto the site, and possible “detrimental impact
upon the surrounding businesses” (Officers-Report, 2009:p2). Despite these
concerns, the planning inspectorate has approved the site prioritising the needs
of the family, which negate any consideration of the potential negative effects
upon the subjective public interests outlined by the councillors. This is
mirrored through the planners’ handling of concerns from consulted bodies, including
the environment agency. In accordance with TAN 15, policy put in place to
secure public interests within planning and ensure no development is vulnerable
to particularly high levels of flood risk, this proposal is not acceptable,
“development…would not be permitted” (Officers-Report, 2009:p6). Nevertheless,
the interests of only the family have again been seen to supersede these
requirements, specifically designed to ensure protection of public interests,
as the decision is seen to produce a “betterment…of their current situation”
(ibid: p6). This again indicates the public interest, viewed from a utilitarian
(individualistic) perspective, was not the primary consideration for this decision.
If it were, planners would have acted to create the greatest amount of benefit,
to the subjective interests of the greatest number of individuals possible within
the public. Their failure to do so, and resulting negative impacts upon the
public interest is testament to this decisions disregard of the public
interest.

In conclusion, the utilitarian (individual) public interest is not
the primary concern of the planning system relating to this proposal. Despite
numerous concerns raised regarding potential impacts upon the wider subjective public
interest, which are well founded, permission with conditions has been granted due
to the exceptional circumstances of the Hendry family, superseding the wider subjective
public interest of the predominant number of individuals forming ‘the public’ in
this case. This proposals desire to act in the interest of the minority, negatively
impacting the majority, clearly highlights how this decision was not in the
public interest.

Word
count: 750

 

Question C

There are various interpretations of the public interest. Their
utilisation within planning depends upon the way in which interests are viewed,
subjectively or objectively, and ones’ categorisation of the affected public (Campbell
and Marshall, 2002). In this case-study however, it is evident that when viewed
from a unitary (communal) perspective, public interest was the key
consideration influencing the planning decision. A unitary perspective of
public interest places emphasis upon the collective nature of the public
(Campbell and Marshall, 2002), with interests being objective. This perspective
is tied to both the capabilities approach (Nussbaum, 2007); that members of the
collective share certain requirements, a place to live in this case-study, and
the “trans-subjective” perspective (Flatham, 1966); which states public
interest requires, in some instances, members of the collective to obey laws
and decisions, even when against their private subjective interests, out of a
moral obligation. To this end, there is evidence to strongly argue that public
interest was the key factor motivating this planning decision.

One illustration of the public interest (viewed from a unitary
perspective) being this proposal’s key consideration, is through its ability to
produce wider objective benefits for the collective, resultantly making the
decision in the collectives’ interest. The families’ relocation to this site facilitates
restoration work upon the grade-1 listed transporter bridge, the cultural and
historical value of which is important to the collective of residents living
within Newport for tourism and heritage purposes. Furthermore, relocation of
the family will re-instate an area of currently unusable highway
(Officers-Report, 2009), providing greater unimpeded mobility for the
collective, resultantly benefitting them and providing evidence of the planning
body acting within the objective public interest. Mobility of the collective
will also be furthered by renovations to the transporter bridge, facilitated by
this decision, illustrating how it has been based predominantly upon objective public
interest.

The proposal also serves those interests superseding and
transcending individual interests within the collective, again suggesting
public interest was the core consideration for this planning decision. All
members of the collective, even those of differing sub-groups, share certain
interests. One such interest according to Nussbaum (2007) is the desire for
shelter and accommodation. By allowing the family to reside in this area, it
prevents them from becoming homeless, facilitating the objective requirement to
provide shelter for individuals which transcends personal interests within the collective,
and thus the decision is within the collectives shared public interest. Furthermore,
according to a unitary trans-subjective perspective (Flatham, 1966), the public
interest is a moral concept. As such the planning body is acting to make a
moral decision, allowing the family to reside in this area, preventing homelessness,
whilst limiting objective impacts upon other collective members who will need
to put aside their potential concerns regarding impacts to subjective personal interests,
for the betterment of the collective public interest achieved through the moral
decision. Ultimately the concerns of neighbours are not as impactful on a moral
compass as making a family homeless. The decision of the planning body to move
forward with this moral decision, promoting the interests which transcend sub-groups
within the collective, highlights an exercise of a moral based unitary
trans-subjective public interest. In this case, the planning decision has
therefore acted within the objective, moral and shared interests of the
collective, reducing recognised inequality between its members.

Furthermore, multiple conditions have been implemented to ensure
that objective public interests are not damaged by this proposal. One example
are the steel gates at the site being placed at an adequate distance (5m) from
the highway, ensuring the community is separate from and does not interfere
with light industry in the area, prioritising and maintaining objective
interests of the surrounding collective, such as business operation and HGV
movement patterns. Wider objective benefits also impact the collective. This
proposal for example objectively improves the area for all concerned through
pavement repairs and reinstatement of street lighting (Design access statement,
2009). This highlights how collective public interest can be viewed as the key
consideration regarding this proposals acceptance.

In conclusion, public interest was the key consideration of this
planning decision. The public interest was, in this case, considered from a
unitary perspective with decisions made reflecting this. Wider objective
interests, shared by all groups within the collective, and its moral obligations,
have therefore been placed above individualistic subjective issues, as they
determine the collective public interest and therefore the action required. This
highlights how public interest was the key consideration of this planning
decision.

Word
Count: 744

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question D

Various models of professionalism exist within planning, ensuring
planners can effectively act upon the problems they face. Two notable models;
technical rationality and the reflective practitioner, have emerged thus far (Schon,
1983). In this case, the reflective practitioner is the dominant model.

This is illustrated through an emphasis upon the unique nature of
this case, with documentation citing the decision rests upon “the exceptional
circumstances of the applicant” (Officers-Report, 2009:p9). Resultantly technical
knowledge has been applied to the unique case, rather than to a generalised
scenario. This has produced a decision deviating from policy, including the
Newport unitary development plan 1996-2011, which a planner employing technical
rationality would have strictly adhered to, mechanically applying such
legislation and citing this proposals deviation from it as grounds for rejection.
Deviation from such technocratic policy is firmly based upon the application of
technical knowledge to the unique circumstances of the case, as “ordinarily
residential development in this location would not be permitted” (Officers-Report,
2009:p6) and it is only due to “such exceptional circumstances” (Ibid: p6) that
this development was accepted, highlighting the reflective practitioner in
action, utilising unique circumstances to make appropriate planning decisions.

The reflective practitioner model is also evident through the
utilisation of past practical experience to inform decision making, including deviation
from the unitary development plan, “the recent appeal decision at Ton-y-Pill is
extremely relevant to the way this application is determined” (Officers-Report,
2009:p4). The previous decisions regarding similar sites have therefore been reflected
upon and utilised to inform this current decision, allowing deviation from the
unitary development plan as seen in other cases, citing that the same failure
to fulfil “section 63 of the Planning and Compulsory purchase act”
(Officers-Report, 2009:p8) applies. This clear utilisation of past experience to
inform current decisions in light of unique circumstances is characteristic of
the reflective practitioner.

Utilisation of technical rationality could also be argued, as the
decision may be perceived as being motivated by the planning systems mandatory
requirement to provide accommodation for gypsy communities under circular
30/2007. It may be perceived that selection of this site ignored public
interest to mechanically apply these generic criteria.

In conclusion however, it is clear from the officer’s report this
decision utilises a reflective practitioner model, due to the planning bodies
treatment of the proposal using technical knowledge applied to its unique
circumstances, and deployment of past experience in decision making.

Word
Count: 398

 

 

Total
Word Count: 2392

 

 

Bibliography:

Bauman, Z. 2005. Work,
consumerism and the new poor. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Campbell, H. and Marshall, R. 2002. Utilitarianism’s bad breath? A
re-evaluation of the public interest justification for planning. Planning Theory, 1(2), pp.163-187.

Design Access Statement. 2009. Design
and access statement-Plot 4B Esperanto Way, Orb Industrial Estate ONLINE.
Available at: https://learningcentral.cf.ac.uk/bbcswebdav/pid-4458018-dt-content-rid-7877305_2/courses/1718-CP0312/DAS.pdf
Accessed 23 January 2018. Newport: Newport City Council.

Flatham, R. 1966. The Public
Interest: An essay concerning the normative discourse of politics. New
York: Wiley.

Meyerson, M. and Banfield, E. 1955. Politics, Planning and the public interest. New York: Free Press

Nussbaum, M. 2007. Frontiers
of Justice. London: The Belknap Press.

Officers-Report. 2009. Plot
4B Esperanto Way Newport South Wales ONLINE. Available at: https://learningcentral.cf.ac.uk/bbcswebdav/pid-4458011-dt-content-rid-7876593_2/courses/1718-CP0312/Officer%27s%20report.pdf
Accessed 23 January 2018. Newport: Newport City Council.

PINS. 2009. Advice produced
by the Planning Inspectorate for use by its inspectors: suggested conditions in
Gypsy permission ONLINE. Available at: https://learningcentral.cf.ac.uk/bbcswebdav/pid-4458016-dt-content-rid-7877303_2/courses/1718-CP0312/Standard%20conditions%20for%20Gypsy%20and%20Traveller%20sites%20%28PINS%29.pdf
Accessed 23 January 2018. Cardiff: Planning Inspectorate Wales.

Schon, D. 1983. The
Reflective Practitioner, how professionals think in action. New York: Basic
Books.

Sennett, R. 2008. The uses
of disorder: personal identity and city life. London: Yale University
Press.

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