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The individual, the community, and the authority in the planning process


  • J F Brotchie


This paper discusses a rational basis for urban decisionmaking including the role of individual freedom of choice. It identifies the differing objectives of the various parties involved (the individual, the community, and the authority) and the resulting different choices of those parties. If the problem is specified in such a way that the authority is indifferent to the options offered, the objectives of the remaining parties, the individuals and the community, are more closely aligned and conflicts in choices between the parties are reduced. Subject to this condition of the indifference of the authority, contours of equal cost to the community are identified in the decision-parameter space. A two-level decision process is then feasible, in which choices between points along a contour, that is, between options of equal community cost, may be offered to individuals acting independently, but decisions to move between contours, that is, to change community cost, must be made by the community as a whole. Decisions made at the individual level also provide feedback for use at the community level. It is recognized that in this decision process the individual decisionmakers are not a homogeneous group, and the effects of this diversity on perceived utility values and on choices is also examined. This diversity must in fact be matched by diversity in the solutions supplied, if the needs of all individuals are to be met. The mechanisms for matching diverse supply to diverse demand is freedom of choice. The losses incurred when this freedom is restricted, for example, by restricting diversity, are formulated. Community objectives may be blurred by the diversity of individual preferences, by the inability to define or measure these preferences, and by the facts that they are many, that they interact, and that the weightings on them are not known. A technique which seeks the perceived optimal plan in the light of these blurred objectives is presented. All these various concepts are considered in relationship to public participation in planning.

Suggested Citation

  • J F Brotchie, 1979. "The individual, the community, and the authority in the planning process," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 11(4), pages 403-414, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:pio:envira:v:11:y:1979:i:4:p:403-414

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