Solution to planning'fiasco' lies in the the past
WHY do the most pleasing parts of Scotlandâs townscapes pre-date the arrival of municipal planning? Is Edinburghâs Georgian New Town so pleasing by accident or was it because the builders were conforming to private covenants?
All the most grotty parts of urban Scotland were devised, designed and specified in detail by local authorities and their professional planners.
The prettier country towns seem to have emerged before the malignancy of town planning. Dunkeld is charming. Melrose is a gem. Inveraray is handsome. All of the 20th century new towns are places to avoid.
At a superficial level it seems only sensible that committees of town hall professionals must come up with more harmonious and coherent results than the "chaos" of the market. It is just that experience shows planning is a disaster without a cure. The solution may be to relax the powers of the Town and Country Planning Act and revert to the subtle practices of the past, which were obliterated by legislation.
The men who erected the New Town used a mix of third party contracts to ensure integrity to their designs. The squares and circuses admired around the world are clear evidence that Scots Law feu was an ingenious way to create contracts that were binding.
Stepping outside of Scotland, we can appreciate readily that some of the finest townscapes, or even entire cities, emerged through the marketâs processes rather than by the taste of councillors or their officials. Regency Bath is the creation of third party covenants. Venice was not planned by a central authority