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Urban Policy and Town Planning

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Decisions on policies and procedures to ensure that the policies are implemented should take the social, economic and environmental implications of such decisions on the society. The economic globalization and service-based economy have resulted in major readjustments in the areas of employment structure and urban economies, which has increased the importance of town planning. (Cullingworth, Nadin, 1994) It is important that the town planners take into account the context and limitations involved in the implementation of the policies. This paper considers the implications of town planning for the ageing population and compares various aspects of this issue with social housing. The critical issues, common themes and differences in these two important social issues are laid out in the paper. It may be observed that both the issues are interrelated, and the planning for the ageing population should necessarily involve planning separate townships housing the ageing population.

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Synopsis of the Topics

A brief overview of the topics chosen is produced below:

Planning for Aging Population

Pacione (2003) observes that urbanism does not evolve by the concentration or the number of inhabitants but the “extension of the social and behavioural characteristics of urban living across the society as a whole”. Accordingly, it becomes necessary that urban planning covers all sections of society. Planning for an ageing population has become necessary in view of the fact that there is a growing population of aged people in the UK. Since people are living healthier and longer due to development in medical sciences, there is going to be an increased proportion of the aged people in the society. Consequently, a large number of elderly people will be seeking out a more comfortable lifestyle. Some of the important aspects that need to be planned in respect of the aged population are housing, recreation, leisure and travelling, retail, shopping and town centres.

Housing provision is crucially affected by the ageing population, and greater importance needs to be attached to health facilities and open space. Planning for the provision of housing accommodation should necessarily take into account the special needs of the ageing population. (Royal Town Planning Institute, 2007; Hudson A. 2003).

Social Housing

Rogers and Power (2000) argue that we cannot sustain anything more than a “compact” living. This supports the need for considering the social housing schemes with renewed vigour. Social housing is a scheme whereby the homes owned by the local authorities are either sold to occupiers as part of ‘right to buy schemes or are leased out to the people. (SHARE, 2006) The scheme of social housing is aimed to provide houses owned by the local authorities in preference to those who are homeless or who are threatened with homelessness. It also includes the allotment of houses that need to move on medical or welfare grounds. Local authorities have also the discretion to add more groups of people for the allotment of social houses. (, 2007).

Criteria Chosen for Comparison

Urban regeneration has been a widely experienced phenomenon in many European cities. (Blackman T, 1995) This is reiterating the need to consider both social housing and planning for the ageing population. Both the topics presented considerable interest as housing for the ageing population and social housing is having the same societal implication of the government extending the welfare measures to the deserving section of the people. In my opinion, the ageing population is one set of people for whom the government, as well as the society, owes a responsibility to take proper care of them. The first requirement for the aged population is to have a comfortable and peaceful living, and the theme of social housing also envisages the same principle. Therefore I decided to compare these two planning programmes to find out the commonalities and the critical issues in each of the planning measures. While the social housing schemes attempt to take the welfare of a wide section of the society, the ageing population can be considered as one of the sections of the people who should be considered for the provision of social housing.

Criteria Chosen for Comparison Criteria NOT Chosen for Comparison
Social Considerations Political Considerations
Environmental Implications Economic Considerations
Financial Considerations

Common Themes and Differences

There is growing concern among governments in the developed world about the future of cities.

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(Schoon, 2001) This has necessitated careful urban planning. In our current study on urban planning issues, the common theme between both the issues is the welfare aspect which forms the basis of providing social housing and planning for the ageing population. While housing is one part of the welfare that needs to be extended to the older generation, there are other welfare measures like provision of health, recreational and leisure activities and to meet the shopping needs of the aged population are also need to be considered by the government while they plan for the aged. In social housing, also when the local authorities form a policy to provide separate accommodation for the aged population, these considerations should weigh in selecting the location for housing the aged as they should be provided with an environment that is conducive for them to live. This I consider a part of the social housing. On the differences with the existing policies, it may not be really possible that the housing needs of the ageing population can be considered in isolation to provide the amenities they need. One important point to consider is that researches have shown that approaches and attitudes to social housing have changed completely since the mid-1960s, and this has affected the life chances of people in terms of health, employment, education, social mobility and welfare dependency. Therefore this has become a critical factor so far as it applies to the ageing population. The considerations involved in the social housing concept have raised serious questions concerning the value of the concept itself, and there are deep-rooted problems of multiple disadvantages, poverty and worklessness, which have negated the welfare objective of social housing. (Leon Feinstein et al., 2008) However, with the growing number of the ageing population, it is imperative that a close look is given to this concept and revamp it to provide housing to the ageing population. It is also important to adopt collaborative or communicative planning as envisaged by Rydin (2003), which helps improve the effectiveness of planning.


Planning plays a major role in devising urban policies. Several urban policy decisions like land use, transport, improvement of the urban environment, and other community development programs, including social housing, need careful planning on the part of the local, regional and central government departments and authorities. Another important role urban planning plays the urban renewal and regeneration of inner cities. Only through the practice of planning adequately the infrastructural requirements of inner cities forming part of the urban landscape can be met. Sustainability and sustainable development aiming to hand over safe living conditions to future generations is another essential part of urban planning and policy decisions. The importance of sustainability has been inferred on the basis of the problems caused by overuse of natural resources, ecosystem destruction and the impact of climate changes. All these issues can be tackled by effective urban planning policies. Planning is considered important in terms of organized growth of cities by applying the various managerial tools for efficient growth management, which takes into account the genuine needs of the people living in urban areas. The construction of long-lasting and safe housing and creating other basic infrastructural facilities for the peaceful living of the people in cities can be greatly facilitated by effective planning on urban growth. The social housing scheme has its own demerits as some individuals have benefitted from acquiring these houses at a discounted price. Some others have incurred debts for a property that cannot be sold. But when administered properly, social housing could bring a number of economic benefits to the downtrodden people. Planning for the ageing population is an important social obligation that the government should take into account sooner or later in view of the increasing number of them. Therefore this paper makes a recommendation that from an urban planning and policy point of view, a careful merger of these two plans and an effective administration of the scheme would go a long way in providing distinct social benefits to the community. While planning the social housing for the aged population, all the considerations like leisure, travel and shopping needs of this section of the community along with their peaceful living environment should be taken into account.


Blackman, T. (1995) Urban Policy in Practice London, New York: Routledge.

Cullingworth, J.B and Nadin, V (1994) Town and Country Planning in Britain, Routledge: London. (2007) ‘Briefing: Social Housing and Migrants’ available online. 2008. Web.

Hudson A (2003) Equity & trusts, 3rd edition Cavendish London.

Leon Feinstein, Ruth Lupton, Cathie Hammond, Tamjid Mujtaba, Emma Salter and Annik Sorhaindo (2008) ‘The Public Value of Social Housing: A Longitudinal Analysis of the Relationship between Housing and Life Chances’ available online. Web.

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Pacione, M. (2003) Urban Geography – A Global Perspective New York, London, Routledge.

Rogers, R. & Power, A. (2000) Cities for a Small Country (Faber & Faber, London).

Royal Town Planning Institute (2007) ‘Planning for an Ageing Population’ available online. Web.

Rydin, Y. (2003) Urban and Environmental Planning in the UK Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.

Schoon, N. (2001) The Chosen City, Spon Press, London.

SHARE (2006) ‘Social Housing in the UK’ available online. Web.

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