Dangerous ideas in planning

24 May 2016

A planner regarded as ahead of his time, and who was instrumental in the creation of New Zealand’s Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA), will be celebrated next month with the launch of a new book in his honour.

Dangerous Ideas in Planning: Essays in Honour of Tom Fookes, contains essays that reflect on the late planner’s life and legacy, and essays intended to advance new and provocative ideas.

Tom practiced, taught and contributed to the advancement of planning, determined to improve the lives of people and communities.

While working at the Ministry of the Environment, he became a major contributor to the design of the RMA, which inspired similar environmental policies around the world. Tom was also part of a tight knit network of green plan advisors, both locally and globally.
He championed for green plans to bring together legislation in an integrated and holistic way with sustainability as its overriding objective.

Dedicated to Ekistics - the science of human settlements - Tom headed the Department of Planning at the University of Auckland from 1993 until 2006, continuing to supervise doctoral students until 2013. He served as a deputy commissioner for the Environment Court from 2004 to 2009. His involvement in planning and education helped shape Auckland city and a generation of planners. His approach and ideas remain as relevant now as when he was alive, if not more so.

In a talk he gave in 2009, Tom said “If we look ahead one of the things we have to appreciate is the factor of climate change, and climate change is integrally linked into sustainability issues. If you deal with sustainability you’ll start to deal with the specifics of climate change.”

The internationally acclaimed planner believed our cities should not copy North American models of urban sprawl, but instead should use our legislation and the Green Plan to change our approach and intensify our cities.

“We need to get people out of their stand-alone bungalows and into higher density and medium density developments, built around transit points. And we need to put in a better transit system to move people out of their cars and onto transport like buses, trains, and bicycles.”

When asked what he thought his greatest achievement had been, he said it was the RMA, because he had been able to bring a lot of public participatory and social positions through into the legislation.

“I like to think that my achievement has been to provide opportunities for the little person in the community to be able to express their views and to influence decisions going on around them in terms of planning and the environment.”

He said his life’s work had been an attempt to have fair, integrated, considered decisions and policy concerning the social, economic and environmental conditions of people.
Influenced by the work of Constantinos Doxiadis, Tom understood the value of thinking through far reaching planning issues in terms of human scale and local identity. He believed the phrase, ‘think local, think global’ was applicable to green plans. “You can achieve a great deal by having your green plan concept working at a local level, and you can build those into bigger things by collaborating across your district or state, but you start essentially with a home unit,” he said.

Dangerous Ideas in Planning is edited by Prue Taylor, School of Architecture and Planning, and Jan Crawford, planner and Independent Hearings Panel member for the proposed Auckland Unitary Plan. 

The book, which contains contributions from 13 leaders in the field of planning, is available free of charge from prue.taylor@auckland.ac.nz.
Book Launch: Dangerous Ideas in Planning: Essays in Honour of Tom Fookes
Wednesday 8 June  2016
Venue Foyer, Level, School of Architecture and Planning
University of Auckland
22 Symonds Street
Time 5.30-7.30pm
Queries to prue.taylor@auckland.ac.nz