We need to fully understand not only the best use of policy in the implementation of well-engineered design solutions, but the extent to which policy itself will need to be re-engineered if it is to be fit for purpose in the context of future city liveability. Many of the structures and accepted norms within policy-making are based on an outdated understanding of cities and the way they work.
Within the sphere of policy-making and city governance, each decision made will be the result of a unique mix of imperatives (including timescales and deadlines), motivations, values, targets and stakeholders. It would be naïve to assume that it is possible to draw all the policies affecting a city into one coherent integrated policy set. A more pragmatic approach is to tease out the underlying values, trajectories and drivers for policy decisions, and use the common ground between them to create a holistic framework on which each policy can be hung, demonstrating synthesis whilst allowing for difference and flexibility.
It is therefore less important to ensure that all activities are aligned in terms of timescale, milestones, boundaries and parameters and more useful to ensure that the majority of activities are contributing to an overarching long-term vision. The quality of this vision – and in particular, the values underlying it – is the primary tool in joined-up policy-making.
Along with such clear motivations for re-engineering the machinery of policy-making, it is necessary too to reflect on how individual cities can re-animate their own decision-making machines. With the pre-requisite of a strong and long-term underlying vision, it is obvious that principles, values and beliefs are of crucial importance. These will be intrinsic to a community and are in part a reflection of the character of that community. In more diverse cities, there may be more difference than common ground, so working together will require strong leadership and a high level of investment in communication.