Are engineering reasons zoning neutral? An empirical inquiry into development proposals in Green Belt and Agriculture Zones
As a first statistical study of a planning authority’s reasons for rejecting development proposals, this study examines hydraulic and transport engineering reasons adopted by the Town Planning Board for dismissing development applications for ‘small house’ use in Green Belt and Agriculture Zones in Hong Kong to verify the hypothesis that both hydraulic and traffic matters are not zoning-class dependent. The findings, from contingency table analysis of 127 sets of official nonaggregate planning data over a period of more than eight years, appear to affirm the supposition that engineering reasoning has not been swayed by nontechnical planning considerations in either the Green Belt or Agriculture Zones. However, a textual analysis of the objections from all available government records suggests that policy concerns broader than technical considerations were in fact decisive. The study sheds light on the mode of use of technocratic considerations in public policy decision making and articulates with the concept of zone separation based on the Coase theorem.
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