New Labour, New Planning? The Trajectory of Planning in Blair's Britain
AbstractThe election of the 'New Labour' government in the UK in May 1997 heralded the start of a new opportunity and era for politics. A determination to modernise the institutions of Britain, associated with a commitment to foster social justice and community with concern for the market, has created a new ethos within government. Led by a Prime Minister viewed as embodying vision and change, the government has started to amend 18 years of Conservative policies structurally, constitutionally and sector ally. The British planning system has changed very little in format and style since its statutory inception in the 1940s, and one would think that this institutional process is an obvious candidate for modernisation. But New Labour possessed very few ideas to amend planning while in opposition, and the proposals announced over the past 24 months that impact on planning suggest continuation rather than radical overhaul. This paper charts the legacy for New Labour in the fields of planning and environmental policy left by the outgoing New Right Major government, and additionally attempts to identify the political ideological ethos and history of policy development behind possible changes to planning. It outlines the major policy amendments announced to date and offers a perspective on the trajectory of planning under a New Labour administration in the years ahead.