Crazy neoliberal theories are truly anti-planning

So right-wing think-tank Policy Exchange is not anti-planning, nor does it support unbridled development.

It urges us to "trust people", according to Alex Morton. But on closer analysis, the people who it urges us to trust are not communities but "those who own neighbouring land".

In this neoliberal planning world, the balance of power between landowners and private developers would produce a more "beautiful" environment than socialist measures such as green belts.

If any readers believe this rubbish, I would urge them to visit countries or regions where development in recent years has followed those principles.

I wrote recently about Ireland (Planning, 18 November, p21), where those forces and that ideology have contributed to the ghost estates that now litter the landscape. The similar plight of American cities such as Detroit has been widely publicised.

Less known is the effect of free market "non-planning" on rural areas. I toured North Carolina before the recession and witnessed small "towns", no bigger than English villages, where shops, houses and trailers were simply abandoned when not needed as cheap greenfield land was always available.

Rather than lecturing planners, Policy Exchange should focus on the role of neoliberal deregulation in causing the credit crunch that precipitated the economic crisis.

Dr Steve Melia, senior lecturer in transport and planning, University of the West of England.

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