Will planning die away, then? Environmental planning has been too scientific, too man-centred, too pastfixated and two-dimensional. In Cities of tomorrow Peter Hall asks “Will planning die away, then?” (Hall 1988:360). His answer is markedly cautious: “Not entirely”. The thirst for liberalism and economic growth, which pushed back planning in the 1980s and smashed the Berlin Wall, now threatens all types of government planning. But, argues Hall, a core is likely to survive. This is because:

Good environment, as the economists would say, is an income-elastic good: as people, and societies generally, get richer, they demand proportionally ever more of it. And, apart from building private estates with walls around them, the only way they are going to get it is through public action. The fact that people are willing and even anxious to spend more and more of their precious time in defending their own environment, through membership of all kinds of voluntary organisations and through attendance at public inquiries, is testimony to that fact. (Hall 1988:360)

This chapter looks at the factors that have caused our doubts about planning, and at how they might be resolved. The argument, in summary, is that geography created the opportunity for physical planning, that geography revolutionized planning at the start of the twentieth century, and that geography can revolutionize planning once again. A development of profound importance, the computer-based Geographical Information System (GIS), is set fair to be the revolution’s handmaiden. Modern geography and modernist planning are giving way to a future in which there will be a myriad of thematic

maps, pluralist plans and non-statutory action by user groups ‘willing and even anxious to spend more and more of their precious time’ on the environment.