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The main point to note in the context of this chapter is that, by the end of the 1960s, town planning was being described as a political activity and this represented a further aspect of the development of a more socially informed concept of town planning. The distributive effects of planning Planning theorists like Jane Jacobs and Christopher Alexander had called upon planners to gain a better understanding of cities before they embarked upon planning them. In the same 34 ‘Social’, not just ‘physical’?
G. Rees and Lambert, 1985; cf. Fainstein and Fainstein, 1979, p. 148). As Pickvance (1977, p. 269) contended: ‘the determining factor in urban development is the operation of market forces subject to very little constraint’. Once again, it is not my concern here to explore this debate further. Rather, my concern is to show how, in the 1970s, a recognition that town planning could have (more or less significant) distributive effects contributed another dimension to the development of a more socially informed town planning theory.
As systems of interconnected activities, the protagonists of the systems view of planning advanced essentially the same view of cities as Christopher Alexander. More to the point in the context of this discussion, the systems view implied that town planners needed to understand the social and economic functioning of cities, rather than seeing cities just in terms of their physical form and appearance. The emergence of urban protest and the politicisation of town planning By the end of the 1960s, the kind of social insensitivity displayed in the ‘clean sweep’ approach to town planning, most notably in the schemes for comprehensive housing redevelopment and new urban motorways, had provoked some communities into open rebellion (see J.