TCPA report: ‘Planning out Poverty’

Planning out Poverty. The reinvention of social town planning was published in October 2013 by the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) with the support of the Webb Memorial Trust.

The report is the result of a case study based research project to explore the overarching question ‘how can we re-focus planning to be more effective in dealing with social exclusion?’ The project is not a study into poverty in general, but about how we challenge social exclusion through planning in different urban contexts.

The project explores four case study locations across England, each with diverse socio-economic backgrounds and distinct patterns of social exclusion, all of which are seeking a pathway to regeneration. These are Anfield in Liverpool, an inner-city community within a large ex-industrial metropolitan city; Shirebrook in the Derbyshire Coalfields, an isolated ex-industrial rural town; Middleton and Belle Isle in Leeds, part of a major inter-war social housing development based on garden city principles; and Tottenham Hale, a diverse inner-city community in Haringey, North London.

The report contains four important messages:

  • The planning system, even in its current residualised form, can make a major impact on social exclusion in a number of ways, from access to employment, services and a healthy environment, to designing mixed communities and promoting community governance.
  • While there are successes, the planning system too often fails to consider the distributional outcomes of decisions for people most in need.
  • The reason for this failure is partly because planning is no longer recognised as a mainstream part of public policy in poverty reduction, and because national planning policy has de-prioritised social justice as an outcome.
  • There are practical measures which the public and private sectors can implement to make the system work better for those in poverty, by maximising the opportunities for renewal and development to meet their needs.