Meaning of Discretionary Planning in UK Housing
Planning plays a pivotal role in determining the utilization of available resources. The UK government adopted a discretionary planning system as a way to boost sustainability and efficiency (De Boer, Enders & Schimank 2007; p. 143). Discretionary planning has been identified as a government methodology to ensure the control and efficient use of its land resources. In fact, discretionary planning offers a regulatory framework upon which the U.K applies technical decision making regarding the usability of its land resources and housing projects. The fact that regional development plays a vital role in determining the outlook of the economy implies that the government has to put more emphasis on ensuring that adequate planning is conducted. The discretionary planning policy provides that land development projects are done based on controlled policies that ensure equitable distribution of resources (Cullingworth & Nadin, 2002; p. 24). The establishment of a comprehensive planning mechanism plays an influential role in ensuring that development throughout the region is equally distributed and adheres to the needs of a region and its people. The discretionary planning policy is based on the principle that planning helps eliminate uncertainties regarding the form and location of urban development. Thus, the discretionary planning policies aimed at not only creating controlled development but also for sustainability in the development of UK’s housing sector.
How the Discretionary Actions System Works
The discretionary planning system is touted to be one of the most efficient of all time. Whenever an individual wants to construct anything in the UK, the system demands that permission ought to be given. The local council has been charged with the responsibility of ensuring that development follows a stipulated approach that conforms to the plans of the region. Additionally, whenever large projects are to be constructed, the system demands that the federal government is involved. Large commercial and housing developments must be put in check through the efforts of the national government. A process of an application must be followed to ensure that a decision is reached. The system has been constructed such that development takes place in a specified order that provides maximum utilization of the land spaces. It also ensures that development takes place without the need for making individual applications (Alexander, 2008; p.30)
The public assumes that the primary aim of planning is to ensure that the developments made are up to standard and conform to the requirements of the government. Additionally, some members of the public believe that the planning system is meant to ensure that inappropriate developments do not take place. Conversely, experts of the discretionary planning system argue that the use of the methodology plays a pivotal role in the process of land allocation, balancing competing demands on sites as well as creating a balance on the land uses (Basta, Neuvel, Zlatanova, & Ale, 2007; p.243). Moreover, recent developments have seen designs being a basic component of the construction process. In fact, design issues are relatively low profiled in the planning process. However, recent developments indicate that the planning officers are now looking design from a different perspective. It is believed that design is at the core of the planning process poor design may have an adverse impact on the effects that the planning process was governing. The outcomes of the planning process are dependent on the efficiency of the designs to adhere to the rules and policies of the process. Thus, the housing quality would be high and designed to high standards that conform to the needs of the planning phase.
Good design is seen as a critical part of any project development. The creation of good designs translates to high flexibility and the creation of mixed communities that positively support the creation of sustainable communities. Efficient designing ensures the creation of quality housing built to high standards. Good designs have been identified as ideal ways of utilizing existing opportunities to ensure that a place is constructed appropriately in a way that delivers quality (Booth, 1995; p. 108; Lichfield and Prat, 1998; p. 290). Moreover, discretionary planning helps experts identify what should be classified as good designs. Those that do not meet basic requirements of the planning process are eliminated.
Benefits of using the Discretionary Planning System in the UK
Proponents of the utilization of the discretionary housing policy agree that it has led to the development of more affordable housing units. Rather than create high demand for housing from one part of a region, it ensures that housing units are discretionary developed such that demand is evenly spread. The outcomes are that no region will escalate its prices with the assumption of growing demand for its houses. Contrariwise, the demand levels would be equal. It is also believed that the quality of affordable housing units would significantly improve. In fact, Booth (1999; p. 37) cites that the visual impact of affordable yet superior quality housing units would be instrumental in seeing to it that the houses are readily available, have large open spaces and finally have an ideal visual impact that would boost the general outlook of the projects. Nonetheless, Bramley (1999; p. 1172) cites that the discretionary planning policy may be detrimental if conformance to affordable housing solutions is widely paid attention to. The creation of affordable houses should not be at the expense of quality and visual appeal.
Using the discretionary policy helps address one of the greatest concerns of all urban centers: traffic. Enhancing the urban designs have played an influential role in ensuring that massive traffic and noise is confined to particular areas of the town. The planning policy even offers a comprehensive plan that addresses the parking needs of residents in the major cities (Healey & Shaw, 1994. p. 430). To this effect, there has been an efficient management mechanism of parking needs, vehicle accessibility and the reduction of traffic.
The discretionary planning policy is highly flexible. The creation of the policy offered a convenient platform upon which future needs of the population of the UK can be addressed. To this effect, the policy keeps on evolving according to the needs of the population to ensure that the housing developments coming into place match the needs of the population irrespective of the time. Moreover, Allmendinger (2006; p. 139) explains that the planning methodology has been efficient in eliminating uncertainties and hence the need to respond to the requirements of the populace. The flexibility also gives developers a unique chance to exploit construction based on the shifts exhibited within the market forces. An explicit function of the discretionary planning process is to ensure that the interests of all stakeholders are taken into account. Thus, the development mechanism ensures that public land is utilized efficiently while serving the interest of the public. Thus even private developers are forced to adhere to the development standards specified in the discretionary planning policies.
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