City and town

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  • Publicado : 15 de mayo de 2011
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Developments in planning theory and practice have promoted public participation as essential to creating a more just society. But to what extent does public involvement challenge claims for the legitimacy of professional planners?


In their work on Readings in Planning Theory Campbell and Fainstein (2003) states that `Planning theoryis an elusive subject of study; it draws in a variety of disciplines and has no widely accepted canon´, in terms of its contribution is considered negative for planners to adopt a single standpoint, the theories are presented as tools for good practice, not as something to which planners should commit (Ferreyra, 2009).; in this context, professional planners should be able of addressing dilemmasthat constantly shows as our society, applying general knowledge of planning theory and adapting according a particular situation.

Over the past half past century after the Second World War (1945) ideas about town planning have changed significantly (Taylor,1998); in this period, there has been an increasingly demand to develop more integrated approaches to planning as a way to combat thenotoriously complex urban problems, through interventions which seek the improvement of human and environmental well-being.

These developments in planning theory and practice has as a major challenge, creating a more just society, especially in cities where socio economic conditions are inequality, planning literature has attempted to address this challenge by promoting public participation in thepolicy making process (Sandercock, 1998). There is however, a problematic aspect of current planning practice, and the role of planners, power and politics in plan-making and plan implementation, this essay will answer the following key question: what extent does public participation challenge claims for the legitimacy of professional planners?, through a revision of the Critical Literature ofPlanning Theory.

It starts with a brief scene setting background to current spatial planning and environmental key issues; leading to some planning dilemmas and ethical issues; which point towards changing roles of spatial planning professionals.


“It is not easy to define planning theory; the subject is slippery, and explanations are often frustratinglytautological or disappointingly pedestrian”. (Campbell and Fainstein, 2003).

As an activity, to borrow a phrase from Rexford Tugwell, planning seeks the utility of the future in the present, and by implication, has had the uncertainly of the future as its central object and subject of investigation. A working definition of planning is defined as “connect decision – making, concerning future courses ofaction” (Faludi, 1986; Sandercock, 1998), in which urban planning, is understood as the “conscious formulation of goals and means of metropolitan development, regardless of whether these determinations are conducted by people officially designated by planners or not ”(Fainstein, 1999). It is this interface, between the uncertainty of the future and the application of planning’s a decision-makingthat opens up terrain to this investigation.

To become aware of true future possibilities is a creative activity, and to realize them a political activity, the future is not what it used to be that we live in a World characterized by growing uncertainty and rapid change is no longer questioned or denied. What was once a clear a clear path to a predictable and-state no longer comes with easy tofollow directions. Planning is no longer business as usual. Everything is constantly reshaping itself to fit the requirements and conditions, of what some are calling a hyper modernist or hyper capitalist.

How to plan, how to decide, what to do, in a multi world? A world which is increasingly described as a multidimensional, multidisciplinary, yet still employs the analytical tools inherited...
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