The relevance of communicative planning theory to the integrated development planning.
The research explores the relevance of communicative planning theory to South Africa's new development planning approach: the Integrated Development Planning. Communicative planning theorists claim that communication that meets Habermas's validity claims ofcomprehensibility, sincerity, legitimacy and truth could result in consensus being reached which will reduce power and conflict between participants. Tlie research investigates the extent to which the above contentions are valid in the context of Durban Metropolitan's Outer West Local Council's Integrated Development Planning. The research investigates the extent to which communication results in consensus. The research hypothesises that power is an important factor"in determining outcomes. The research explores the following questions in more detail: how does power of various actors shape planning outcomes? How does power penetrate good intentions of communicative planning? Is it meaningful to operate with a concept of communication in which power is absent? What is the impact of asymmetrical power relations to communication that is aimed at development planning? Is consensus an achievable ideal? Given the new and changing role of planners, can the planners' professional judgement be "neutralised" and can they act as valueneutral participants as the theorists claim? Tewdwr-Jones & Alldimendinger (1998) are critical of the diminishing role that is given to the planner by the collaborative planning theory. The research investigates the role of the planner by asking the following questions: what is and what should the role of planner be given that collaborative planning or communicative planning theorists tend to remove the planner from the centre to the periphery? Should there be a planner at all or can the community through participatory planning do it all by themselves without the need tor the 'expertise' ofa planner? What are the obstacles to eftective public participation that is aimed at building consensus and to what extent can individual stakeholders participate meaningfully. The assumption ofthe communicative planning theory is that when there is platform to participate, people will argue, talk, debate and negotiate. The research also contextualises the study by looking at contemporary literature on changing urban landscape: the new models ofmunicipal administration and governance ie.public-private partnerships, the macro-economic trends that would aftect the delivery ofplans and services. To accomplish this, the research looks at communicative planning theory in relation to the actual local development planning practice of the chosen case study area. There are principles of communicative planning which are similar to those ofthe IDP approach which make it safe for one to claim some resemblances between theory and the new approach. One such principle is the emphasis placed on communication between the planner and resident communities achieved through public meetings/workshops. The findings of this research show that communicative planning theory is relevant to South Africa's new Integrated Development Planning. The results of this research also show that communicative planning that meet the validity claims ofcomprehensibility, honesty, legitimacy and truthfuJnessare important because in the case study under discussion, development was derailed by the lack ofpolitical legitimacy (authority) and lack ofpower to take decisions, as a result the power of resident community overwhelmed those of planning consultants. Conflict resolution was not reached through communication between planners and resident communities because participants exercise their power to the detriment ofthe whole process. There were some difficulties in the application of communicative theory to real life planning practice in that the theory push for communication yet during participation citizens did not have enough skill and expertise that would enable them to participate meaningfully in the planning sessions. Communication therefore became a mere question and answer exercise and lacked effective argumentation, dialogue, negotiation, proper talk and debating. The findings of this research show that it is meaningless to operate with a concept of communication in which power is absent. Power has indeed been an important factor in determining outcomes in this planning initiative. To a greater extent, communication was penetrated by asymmetrical power relations between interlocutors - to such an extent that the development planning process came to a stand still. The findings also show that communicative rationality is a means to an end and not an end in itself The end product is a document which has to be produced using some technical rationalities. It was clear from the planning episodes and from interviews that consensus is not an achievable ideal. There are many factors that influence reaching consensus. The research also showed that it is not possible for planners to adopt a valueneutral stance during planning meetings given that they themselves are an interested party and not just observers. Their education and training makes them an interest group in their own right. The research has shown that true community participation (argumentation, talk, debate, negotiation) is dependent on the skills level of participants, their education, experience, background and personalities; these became hindrances or obstacles to effective communication. It was clear from the findings that the role ofplanners during the planning workshops is increasing instead of diminishing as the theorists contend. There are additional roles that planners have to play including capacity building, advising communities, playing advocacy role, filtering and mediating information and interests of various parties during planning meetings. There were technical skills that could only be obtained from the qualified planner, namely the ability to delineate boundaries using maps, writing technical reports and the ability to selectively collate information for processing using sophisticated computer packages.