Gender issues in planning theory and practice

The essay discusses the significance of gender issues in planning practice. Gender refers to the associations, stereotypes and social patterns that a culture constructs on the basis of actual or perceived differences between men and women (Nelson 1995, p132). The interests of women had historically been neglected by planners. The problems that arose for women due to this lack of consideration in the planning process have been discussed. Various concerns of women planners have been identified. RTPI’s “The Gender Mainstreaming Toolkit” has been discussed which was developed as a measure for promoting equality between men and women in the planning context. The current position of women planners has been discussed.

Planning has always been male dominant (Greed, 1994) in the developed countries (Sandercock and Forsyth, 1990). Moser and Levi (1986) and Moser (1989) observed that the situation was distinctly opposite in developing countries. The 1970s brought gender consideration into focus in planning practice. Sandercock and Forsyth in their paper “A New Gender Agenda – New Directions for Planning Theory” explained the contributions of feminist theories to planning theory in five areas; namely spatial, economic and social relationships; language and communication; epistemology and methodology; ethics; and the nature of public domain.


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History of the Evolution of Planning in England

Planning in theory and practice

The British planning system evolved as a result of various social, economic and political events that took place in the last two centuries. Initially, town planners had the sole responsibility for making decisions about the development and redevelopment of towns and cities. It was only after the post-war period that the importance and relevance of public participation was realized and taken into consideration. This apportion of decision-making power to the public brought about a change in the role of planners in society, from being sole controllers to advocates. Planning theories were developed with a view to provide a firm base for the planning practitioners. The relationship between planning theory and planning practice has always been under constant deliberation and is still evolving.

In earlier days, planners worked in a professional and politically controlled system. The discussions and plans were presented in a professional way which consisted of technical jargon that the public could not be expected to understand (Glass, 1959 cited in Cullingworth and Nadin, 2006). At the time, however, planners were perceived as acting in the general public interest, and hence the lack of public participation and political debate was not recognized as a problem.

During the post-war period, the need for urban and rural development became a necessity. Housing estates were being constructed with few amenities and urban centres rebuilt along with motorways to take in increasing traffic. Development in the villages was neglected and they suffered from a lack of proper infrastructure (Cullingworth and Nadin, 2006). This led to the destruction of social and physical fabric of the place and put planners in a difficult situation. Planners were seen as hostile figures and planning was conceived as bad (Allmendinger, 2009). Public participation was then introduced by Town and Country Planning Act in 1968 (Williams, 1984). Planning authorities created informal mechanisms which encouraged participation of local communities and interest groups to play a part in formulating and implementing planning policy.


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Waste House Construction, Brighton, UK

Case study of Waste House in Brighton | Grand Parade Campus

Waste House is being constructed in the Grand Parade Campus of University of Brighton. Brighton is town in the southeast of England, UK. Duncan Baker Brown and Cat Fletcher are leads in the project. It is a challenging project. This house is going to be used as a studio for postgraduate design students. It will be open to public for viewing. The aim of the project is to demonstrate how waste can be efficiently used for the construction purposes without having to compromise on the quality.

Waste house | Brighton

Waste house | Brighton.  Source: theargus.co.uk

Materials selected for the Waste House Project

Roof – solar roof (Solar PV tiles have been used on the roof.)

Sky harvester – Natural light source

Rainwater harvesting

Timber from local sustainer sources

Second hand timber

Since it is second hand timber and that its strength cannot be determined, the structural engineer assumes that the timber is of the weakest type and compensates in the design accordingly.

Walls

Lightweight prefabricated panels = lots of insulation

Reuse waste materials such as Hemp, glass, earth, tins, straw, carpet tiles

Heavy weight prefabricated panels = lots of heat storage

Chalk wall – 10 tonnes of chalk used + 10% clay

(Although only 100% chalk would mean better wall strength)


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National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG)

National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG) published online

I came across an interesting piece of news online. A final version of National Planning Practice Guidance has been launched by DCLG (Department for Communities and Local Government) with an aim to make the planning system easier to use.

The Planning Minister Nick Boles in his written ministerial statement said, “Planning should not be the preserve of lawyers, developers or town hall officials” and that local communities should be able to shape the new development. They should possess the knowledge as to where the development should and should not go.

Boles highlighted a number of points of how the government was going to tackle the issues in planning which include,

Issuing robust flood risk guidance;

Green belt protection to be taken seriously;

Testing the soundness of the local plan where the authorities have failed to identify land for growth;

Counting of windfalls over the whole local plan period;

Considering student housing, housing for the aged and reusing vacant properties in order to assess the housing needs;


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Analysis of New Road Design in Brighton

I visited New Road in Brighton (it is a town on the south coast of Great Britain) close to the town centre with Paula Goncalves, a councillor at Brighton and Hove City Council. It is a newly redeveloped street by Gehl Architects.

After having seen the street, I analysed the changes that took place. I was sure that the street went through a radical transformation. I realised the important of using apprpriate paving materials on a pedestrian street. It is important to maintain consistency in terms of type of pavers, its shape, colour and quality of installation are all responsible for the effect that is produced. The use of paving material all over the street emphasises that it is a pedestrian friendly street. Although it has speed restrictions for the cars, it successfully articulates, divides and links different areas in urban fabric.

New Road in Brighton

New Road in Brighton. This street gives an illusion of wider street. Interesting colours have been used in the paving. People walk on the street relaxed and totally unworried regarding the moving traffic.

New Road map

New Road map. As you can see in the map, the new road connects Church Street and North Street, the major roads in Brighton.


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