Insights

In brief

This article explores ideological and planning theories and planning models and identifies the potential for reinvigoration of Queensland’s planning system via a neoliberal perspective.

Abstract

The modernist perspective of planning has been concerned with making public and political decisions in respect of the planning of our places more rationally and consistent with an overarching public interest.

However, the modernist perspective of rational planning action has been challenged by a post-modernist perspective, and more recently by a neoliberal perspective, rooted in the political ideals of liberalism which holds that a liberal market supportive style of planning will produce more environmentally sustainable outcomes.

The paper considers how the modernist, postmodernist and neoliberal perspectives of planning have been applied in the context of the planning system particularly in relation to matters such as the following:
  • the planning of master planned areas contrasting the top down approaches of some structure plans with the bottom up approaches of others;
  • the role of development assessment managers contrasting planners as managing planning decisions and facilitating action to realise publicly agreed goals on the one hand or alternatively realising market sensitive individuals’ goals on the other;
  • the planning, funding/financing and delivery of infrastructure contrasting rationally planned methods based on cost/benefit analyses of efficiency and equity on the one hand with the politically market driven methods on the other;
  • the planning system contrasting the top down state directed model of planning provided by the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 on the one hand with community based planning from the ground up geared to community empowerment on the other.
The paper considers the modernist, postmodernist and neoliberal perspectives of planning for the purpose of identifying how the recently elected Liberal National Party (LNP) government may seek to reinvigorate planning and the planning system in Queensland.

Introduction

Queensland Government reform

In March 2012, Queensland elected a Liberal National Party government with an overwhelming mandate for change.

Central to that mandate is the promotion of a four pillar economy involving the resources, agriculture, construction and tourism sectors, as well as the empowerment of local government.

The LNP government intends to move quickly to implement its reform agenda, which because of the government’s majority, is likely to have significant implications for the public, private and third sectors for decades to come.

Neoliberal reform agenda

The full scope of the LNP’s planning reform agenda is as yet unclear. However what is apparent is that neoliberalism is the dominant ideological rationalisation for the LNP’s reform agenda of the Queensland government.

Neoliberalism is an ideology that involves a commitment to the rolling out of market mechanisms and competitiveness and the rolling back of governmental intervention (See Peck, J and Tickell, A 2002, Neoliberalizing space, Antipode, vol. 34, no. 3, pp.380-404).

From a neoliberal perspective much of urban public planning is seen as a distortion of land markets which increases transaction costs through bureaucratisation of the urban economy. Neoliberalism holds that this should be rolled back by contracting the domain of planning (de-regulation) and then privatising segments of the residual sphere of regulation (outsourcing). As such, the raison d’etre of planning as a tool of correcting and avoiding market failure is dismissed and planning is subsumed as a minimalist form of spatial regulation whose chief purpose is to provide certainty to the market and to facilitate economic growth (See Gleeson, B and Low, N 2000a, "Revaluing planning rolling back neoliberalism in Australia", Progress in Planning, vol. 53, pp.83-164, and Gleeson, B and Low, N 2000b, "Unfinalised business: neoliberal planning reform in Australia", Urban Policy and Research, vol. 18, no. 1, pp.7-28.).

Ideology, theory, practice and policy

While it is unclear how ideology influences planning and in turn how planning theory affects planning practice, a consideration of ideology and planning theory does provide an opportunity to understand the evolving processes that planning practice may face as a result of the LNP’s neoliberal planning reform agenda.

As Forester observes in his 1989 book, Planning in the Face of Power:
Theories can help alert us to problems, point us towards strategies of response, remind us of what we care about, or prompt our practical insights into the particular cases we confront.

Themes of paper

This paper therefore has 5 themes:

  • First, it establishes a model of urban change, that seeks to show the relationship of ideological and planning theories and models to the components of urban change and the institutions responsible for that change.
  • Second, it seeks to flesh out the debate on premodernism, modernism, postmodernism and neoliberalism, to provide an ideological context to both the broad policy settings of a neoliberal government and the use of planning theory in a neoliberal state.
  • Third, it seeks to flesh out the debate on planning theory to provide a theoretical context for the consideration of planning models, in particular the postmodernist collaborative planning model and the neoliberal strategic planning model.
  • Fourth, it discusses the key characteristics of the neoliberal strategic planning model to provide context for the consideration of the potential planning practice implications of the use of this model.
  • Finally, it seeks to identify the planning policy outcomes which are likely to be associated with a neoliberal government, to provide context to the potential scope of the LNP planning reform agenda in Queensland.

Urban change model

Components and institutions of urban change

  • Urban change occurs as a result of the interplay of three institutional components (Newman 2000:1):
  • the market represented by the private sector;
  • the government represented by the public sector; and
  • the community comprising civil society or the so called third sector.
The characteristics of the institutional components and associated institutions of urban change are described in Table 1.

Table 1: Components and institutions of urban change

Market – private sector

Government – public sector

Civil society – third sector

Stakeholders of institution

Consumers, producers, employers, employees, trade associations and unions

National, state and local government – including public sector entities

Communities including media, churches, educational bodies, associations, community groups

Role of institution

Provision of wealth for development

Protection of rights and public realm

Guardian of culture and ethics

Instituted outputs

Goods and services

Laws and regulations; Infrastructure and services

Values and vision

Conception of the public interest

Focused on an aggregated criteria of choice based on the notions of utility or satisfaction

Focused on an overall idea such as ‘the spirit of history’ or the ‘essence of the soul’

Focused on the community as the first ethical subject and consequently on a common conception of the good life

Institutional horizons

Short term

Medium term (based on the term of office)

Long term

Source: Newman, P 2000, Promoting Sustainable Urban Change, Murdoch University, p.2; Moroni, S 2004, "Towards a reconstruction of the public interest criterion", Planning Theory, vol. 3, no. 2, pp.151-171; Alexander, ER, Mazza, L and Moroni, S 2012, "Planning without plans? Nomocracy or teleocracy for social-spatial ordering", Progress in Planning, vol. 77, pp.37-87

Planners influence all components of urban change: the market, government and civil society. They work through the private, public and third sectors using a collection of planning theories and practices to influence urban change, or on some occasions to prevent urban change.

Relationship of planning theory and practice for urban change

The interrelationship between the planning theories and practices used by planners and the components and institutions of urban change are shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Urban change model



It is clear that planning and the capacity to effect urban change are critically influenced by planning theory and practice.

An understanding of planning theory requires it to be placed within the context of broader cultural, socio-economic and political change; being the historic shift from premodernism to modernism, and then to postmodernism and more recently to neoliberalism.

Premodernism, modernism, postmodernism, neoliberalism

Neoliberalism in a historic context

The broad cultural, socioeconomic and political changes that have influenced western societies such as Australia have had a profound effect on planning theory and practice.
These changes exist in a historic century-long linear process of transition from premodernism to modernism to postmodernism and finally to neoliberalism.
The cultural, socioeconomic and political conditions of modern, postmodern and neoliberal societies are described in Table 2.

Table 2: Cultural socio-economic and political conditions of ideological theories

Modern

Postmodern

Neoliberal

Period of era

Modernity – The period of modern thought from the Enlightenment to the present

Postmodernity – The period of postmodern thought from the 1960s to the present

Late capitalism – The period of neoliberal thought from the late 1980s and early 1990s to the present

Cultural conditions

Modernism – The cultural conditions which accompany a method of thought in which human reason is able to identify objectively existent and knowable laws of reality that can be used to effect change to achieve a unitary common public good or truth1

Postmodernism – The cultural conditions which accompany a method of thought in which human reason is able to identify the subjectively constructed views of groups that can be used to effect change to achieve a good as defined by these groups

Neoliberalism – Has little to say about the cultural conditions of society

Social conditions

Fordism – The social conditions which accompany industrial mass production using repetition and simplicity of standardised products for mass consumption by a mass market2

Postfordism – The social conditions which accompany flexible small batch production of specialised products for consumption by different groups in niche markets3

Neofordism – The social conditions which accompany the provision of services using information technologies to niche markets that predominates over manufacturing which is de-industrialising

Economic conditions

Keynesianism welfarism – The economic conditions of a mixed economy involving predominantly the private sector but a significant role for the public sector involving monetary policy by central banks and fiscal policy by governments to stabilise output over the business cycle

Third way – The economic conditions of a market economy involving the private sector where the role of the public sector is limited to macro-economic stability, investment in infrastructure and education, containing inequality and guaranteeing opportunities for self-realisation4

Monetarism – The economic conditions of a market economy involving the private sector where the role of the public sector is limited to monetary policy by central banks

Political conditions

Social democracy – The political conditions involving:

  • a universal society existing as a structure
  • the collective good of the society
  • welfare services that are delivered to ensure equality of opportunity and removal of differences within society

Deliberative democracy – The political conditions involving:

  • multiple societies existing as networks and flows
  • the good of each society
  • welfare services that are delivered to ensure personalised integrated services to reflect the differences of society

Liberal democracy – The political conditions involving:

  • individuals – there being no society or societies
  • the good of the individual
  • welfare services that are delivered by the market with limited targeted welfare services
1 Hirt, S 2002, "Postmodernism and planning models", Critical Planning, vol. 9, p.3
2 Goodchild, B 1990, "Planning and the modern / postmodern debate", The Town Planning Review, vol. 61, no. 2, p.126
3 Ibid
4 Giddens, A 2000, The Third Way and its Critics, Polity Press, Cambridge, p.164

Neoliberal cultural socioeconomic and political conditions

In the context of the current LNP government it is important to understand the potential political, cultural and social conditions of a neoliberal society:
  • Cultural conditions – Neoliberalism has little to say about the cultural conditions of society as it is a theory derived from economics.
  • Social conditions – Neoliberalism is premised on the social conditions of a service based economy where the provision of services using information technologies to niche markets predominates over a declining industrial sector.
  • Economic conditions – Neoliberalism is premised on the economic conditions of a market based economy involving the private sector, where the role of the public sector is limited to monetary policy by central banks. Neoliberalism rejects the use of fiscal policy by government to stabilise output over the business cycle.
  • Political conditions – Neoliberalism is also premised on the political conditions of a liberal democracy that involves the following:
– individuals have the right to pursue a good life that does not harm others;
– services are delivered by the market;
– the role of the government is limited to providing information and guidelines as well as targeted welfare services for limited social exclusion areas.
 
These broad socioeconomic and political conditions provide the ideological context which will influence the broad policy settings of a neoliberal government.

Policy settings of a neoliberal government

The broad policy settings which are generally associated with modern, postmodern and neoliberal theory are described in Table 3.

Table 3: Institutional characteristics of ideological theories

Modern

Postmodern

Neoliberal

Government size

Big government

Smaller but better integrated government

Small government

State and local government relationship

Centralised local governments address the public interest

Centralised local governments address group interests, in particular areas of social exclusion. Secondly, local governments are well funded but are also more accountable

Governments (politicians and public servants) are to demonstrate entrepreneurial spirit (risk-taking, investment and profit motivated)

Central government solicits growth whilst local governments facilitate growth. Further, state government downloads unfunded central government risks and responsibilities to local governments which are to compete against each other for economic growth

Government and civil society relationship

Government help

Community self-help with government help for social exclusion

Individual self-reliance and entrepreneurship

Customer focus

Government and private sector relationship

Government provision, commercialisation and corporatisation

Public-private partnerships

Facilitate the private sector by privatisation and outsourcing

Government financial management

Higher taxes and spending

Lower but better targeted taxes and higher spending on socially excluded areas

Lower taxes and lower spending (fiscal conservatism and austerity)

Government regulation

Regulation

Further regulation

Deregulation

Less importance on rules, processes and expert jurisdictions

Source: Jackson, J 2009, "Neoliberal or third way? What planners from Glasgow, Melbourne and Toronto say", Urban Policy and Research, vol. 27, no. 4, p.405

In the context of neoliberal theory the following broad policy settings are likely to be adopted by a neoliberal government:
  • Small government – witness the dramatic downsizing of the public service by some 14,000 jobs announced in the 2012 Queensland budget.
  • The downloading of unfunded state government risks and responsibilities to local governments which are forced to compete against each other for economic growth – witness the state government’s transition of financial liabilities for urban development areas under the Urban Land Development Authority Act 2007 to local governments, and the Brisbane City Council’s 2031 Strategic Vision which envisions Brisbane as 'Australia’s New World City' which is competing globally against other world cities.
  • Individual self-reliance and entrepreneurship with little or no government help.
  • The outsourcing of government functions and privatisation of government assets.
  • Lower taxes – witness the cost of living reductions in electricity, water and public transport charges announced in the 2012 Queensland budget.
  • Deregulation – witness green tape reduction, reforms to the Environmental Protection Act 1994, referral agency reforms under the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 and local government reforms under the Local Government Act 2009.
These broad policy settings together with the broader socioeconomic and political conditions of neoliberal theory provide the context for the consideration of the use of planning theories by planners.

Planning theory in a neoliberal state

Neoliberal planning theory

Given the neoliberal socioeconomic and political conditions and broad policy settings which are expected to develop in Queensland under the LNP government, it is likely that the use of neoliberal planning theory will become more dominant amongst planners.

The approaches to planning theory that are embodied in premodern, modern, postmodern and neoliberal ideologies are described in Table 4.

Table 4: Ideological approaches to planning theory

Premodern
Modern
Postmodern
Neoliberal
Humanistic premise of planning (i.e. the ends of planning)
Utopia – An end state in which individuals are emancipated towards an ideal society
Collective public interest – An end state in which society en masse is emancipated towards a common good for the society
Group interest – An end state in which groups within society are emancipated towards a good defined by those groups
Individual interest – There is no end state for society but rather the right of each individual to pursue a good life that does not harm others
Epistemological premise of planning (i.e. the means of planning)
Artistic design method – Universal laws of physical and aesthetic design principles can be objectively defined by human reason
Rational scientific method – Universal laws of planning principles can be defined through value free scientific reason (positivist knowledge)
Participatory method – There are non-universal laws but the subjective value laden principles of individuals can be determined through a participative process
Managerialist method – There are no universal laws and personal goods can be pursued through a managerial process determining goals, objectives and strategies and implementing them
Planning theories
·         Physical planning (Unwin 1996; Triggs 1909)
·         Rational planning (Sharp 1940; Abercrombie 1959; Keeble 1969)
·         Systems planning (McLoughlin 1969)
·         Procedural planning (Faludi 1973)
·         Advocacy planning (Davidoff 1965)
·         Incremental planning (Lindblom 1959)
·         Radical (action) planning (Friedmann 1987)
·         Participatory planning (Arnstein 1969)
·         Communicative planning (Habermas 1984; Healey 1997)
·         Strategic spatial planning (Kaufman and Jacobs 2007; Healey 2007)
Planning models
Physical planning
Comprehensive master planning
Collaborative planning
Strategic planning
Planning era
Before First World War
  • Interwar period – avant-garde movement
  • Post-war – adopted by government
  • 1960-1980 – part of counter culture
  • 1980 onwards – adopted by government
1990s onwards
Source: Goodchild 1990:126; Hirt 2002

For other references listed in the table, see further reading at the end of this paper.

Planning theory is based on two different premises. The first is that planning has a humanistic or social emancipation end. The second is that planning theory has an epistemological premise being the means by which planning delivers the end (namely social emancipation).

Humanistic premise of planning theory

In neoliberal planning theory the planning end is not an end state for society such as the collective public interest (for modern planning) or group public interest (in the case of postmodern planning theory).

Rather it is individual interest; the right of each individual to pursue a good life that does not harm others.

Epistemological premise of planning theory

Neoliberal planning theory postulates that the end of an individual good life is not pursued through the rational scientific method of value free scientific reason (in the case of modern planning theory) or a participative process to define group values (in the case of postmodern planning theory).

Rather, the neoliberal end of an individual good life is to be achieved through a management process of defining goals, objectives and strategies and by implementing them.

In neoliberal planning theory, the managerialist method, which is embodied in the planning model of strategic planning, is the predominant planning model.

Strategic planning model in a neoliberal state

Strategic planning is a planning process that is focused on the implementation of specific and attainable goals, objectives and strategies. It differs from comprehensive master planning which aspires to an abstract common public good or interest. It also differs from collaborative planning which focuses on the group good or interest as defined by groups within society.

It is anticipated that the strategic planning model will become the predominant planning model among planners in Queensland.

The characteristics of the strategic planning model are described in Table 5.

Table 5: Key characteristics of planning models

Physical planning
Comprehensive master planning
Collaborative planning
Strategic planning
Institutional arrangements
Limited uncoordinated community and government initiatives
Government lead with limited community involvement
Government lead with significant community involvement
Private sector lead through market
Institutional decision making
Top down with no bottom up community involvement
Top down with limited bottom up community involvement
Top down and bottom up
Bottom up through market
Planning scales
City and district level planning
City and district level planning with limited local and site level planning
City and district level planning with emphasis on local and site planning
Emphasis on local and site level planning
Planning horizon
Long term
Medium term
Medium term at strategic and district levels and short term at local and site levels
Short term
Planning focus
Physical and aesthetic design based (place-based planning)
Spatial-based planning
Spatial-based planning at strategic and district levels and place-based planning at local and site levels
Place branding, marketing, promotion and competition (European cities, capital cities, world cities, cool cities and creative cities)
Attraction of the creative class (IT, arts, biotechnology, science)
Attraction of corporate investment (free land or buildings, lower infrastructure charges, grants, tax relief such as stamp duty and payroll tax)
Concepts of the city
City Beautiful – Cities are a symptom of social order and disorder
Mechanistic City – Cities are economic objects that can be rationally ordered and mass produced
Just City – Cities are an expression of the social diversity of its citizens and the ecological diversity of its environment
Competitive and productive City – Cities are economic objects that are competing against each other for economic growth
Strategic and district level planning themes
·         Promotion of massed suburban expansion
·         Promotion of garden cities
·         City beautiful movement
·         Parks movement
·         Redevelopment of slums with high rise buildings in open space
·         Controlled low density suburban expansion
·         New towns within green belts
·         Urban neighbourhoods criss-crossed by freeways
·         Renewal and regeneration of central cities and infill sites
·         Increased urban density within compact urban space
·         Containment to minimise land consumption, preserve open space and reduce infrastructure costs
·         Promote urban branding, imagery and advertising
·         Promote redevelopment of central cities and adjoining suburbs as residual places
·         Urban expansion not containment
·         Mega projects are seen as strategic economic assets (exhibition centres, science parks, sport stadiums, waterfront developments, cultural districts)
Local and site level planning themes
·         More daylight and sunlight for canyon streets
·         Public health and sanitary reform
·         Settlement house and reform movement
·         Zoning of urban space into self-contained single land use or functional districts
·         Reduction of urban density
·         Mixed flats and houses
·         Demolition of dilapidated buildings
·         Integration of land uses and functions into mixed-use districts of urban space
·         Increased urban density
·         Mixed land uses
·         Emphasis on local context
·         Preservation of historic buildings and local cultural heritage
·         Performance zoning (flexible zones, urban enterprise zones, business improvement districts)
·         Flexible building standards
·         Integrated development control
·         Reduced standards of services for infrastructure, roads and open space
·         Reduced government space for houses
Source: Goodchild 1990:126; Jackson 2009:405

A strategic planning model operating in a neoliberal state is anticipated to have the following significant characteristics:
  • Institutional arrangements – Planning is market led by private sector developers.
  • Institutional decision making – Planning is a bottom up through the market rather than the top down/bottom up approach characteristic of the comprehensive master planning model (associated with modern planning theory) and the collaborative planning (associated with postmodern planning theory).
  • Planning scales – Planning is focused on local and site level planning rather than the strategic and district level planning and local and site level planning associated with comprehensive master planning and collaborative planning.
  • Planning horizon – Planning has a short term horizon reflecting the reality that planning is intended to be capable of continual revision in response to the market.
  • Planning focus – Planning is focused on place marketing, rather than the spatial based planning and place based planning approaches associated with comprehensive master planning and collaborative planning.
  • Concept of the city – Planning is focused on ensuring that the city is an economic growth object which can effectively compete against other cities for economic growth.
  • Strategic and district level planning themes.
  • Local and state level planning themes.
The increased use by planners of a strategic planning model in Queensland will have a significant influence on the state of planning practice in Queensland.

Planning practice in a neoliberal state

Neoliberal planning practice

The broad neoliberal socioeconomic and political conditions and associated policy settings which are expected to develop under an LNP government will encourage the use of neoliberal planning theory and models that will have an increasing influence on planning practice.

The anticipated implications for planning practice of the increased use by planners of neoliberal planning theory and models are described in Table 6.

Table 6: Implications for planning practice of neoliberal planning theory and models

Neoliberal response

Implications

Government size

Small government

  • Reduced state government planning
  • Contracting out of planning functions

 

Central and local government relationship

State government solicits growth and local government facilitates growth

State government downloads unfunded state government risks and responsibilities to local governments

Governance to mimic corporate style and logic

  • Local governments contract out selected services
  • Limited government control of local government plans
  • Local governments forced to compete with each other for economic growth
  • Greater focus on place marketing and competition than place making
  • Planners gain financial acumen and act as urban entrepreneurs
  • Local governments focus on economic growth projects generally in central city locations at the expense of investment elsewhere

 

Government and civil society relationship

Individual self-help and entrepreneurship

  • Corporate style advisory boards replace community based consultative groups
  • Focus on owner occupied housing rather than public housing
  • Focus on private schools rather than public, TAFE and other public educational facilities
  • Limited investment in social infrastructure
  • Focus on private hospitals and private health insurance rather than public hospitals
  • Less community houses and housing associations
  • Areas of social exclusion not linked to the market economy are the subject of targeted welfare spending

 

Government and private sector relationship

Outsourcing, privatisation; facilitation of private sector activity

  • Rise of the intermediate service sector (such as professional advisers)
  • Developer led development rather than plan led development
  • Developers are stakeholders in major public infrastructure projects
  • Public assets privatised
  • Privatise regulations (certification)
  • Limited public review of public infrastructure projects (sell not evaluate a project)
  • Private sector involvement in financing and operating infrastructure
  • Competitive bidding for urban renewal and infrastructure projects
  • Private sector provision of rental housing rather than public housing
  • Privatisation of public spaces (shopping centres and city centre plazas, centre malls, pavements and urban parks)
  • Privately governed as secured neighbourhoods through management (gated communities) and passive design (master planned residential estates)

 

Government financial management

Lower taxes and lower spending

Less maintenance of existing public services

Limited provision of public services in growth areas

Greater private sector provision

Reduced developer contributions in new growth areas

Reduced focus on urban renewal projects such as Boggo Road, Kelvin Grove, Roma Street Parklands

Government regulation

Deregulate

  • Simplified planning regulations
  • Plans that give less direction to local government
  • Plans that give more certainty and predictability to developers
  • Plans with fewer directives and more negative regulation
  • Plans that specifically integrate state government priorities
  • Removal of comprehensive master planning and collaborative planning models
  • State enabling regulation for major or mega projects
  • Revised planning powers (Ministerial call-ins) to facilitate projects
  • Plans that are more flexible
  • Speeding up of development assessment, public inquiry procedures and plan preparation

 

Source: Jackson 1990:405

Generally speaking it is expected that the comprehensive master planning model (associated with modern planning theory) and collaborative planning model (associated with postmodern planning theory) will be curtailed as the strategic planning model (associated with neoliberal planning theory) is implemented in public policy and legislative reform.

Role of the planner

The anticipated emergence of neoliberal planning theory and its associated strategic planning model and consequential implications for planning practice will inevitably result in a re-evaluation of the role of planners.
The role of a planner under the physical planning, comprehensive master planning, collaborative planning and strategic planning models is described in Table 7.

Table 7: Planner’s role under planning models

Physical planning

Comprehensive master planning

Collaborative planning

Strategic planning

Knowledge and skills

Specialist knowledge of utopian ideals and planning principles

Specialist knowledge of planning principles and specialist skills to manage the planning process to define the public interest and planning principles

Specialist knowledge and skills to manage the planning process to facilitate consensus of social, environmental and economic outcomes

Specialist knowledge and skills to manage the planning process to facilitate economic outcomes

Ethical position

Technician – Value neutral adviser to decision maker

Technician – Value neutral adviser to decision maker

Politician – Value committed activist that advocates policies

Hybrid – Hybrid of a technician and a politician

Source: Steele, W 2009, "Australian urban planners: Hybrid roles and professional dilemmas", Urban Policy and Research, vol. 27, no. 2, p.4.

In a neoliberal environment it is expected that planners will be required to develop specialist knowledge and skills to manage the planning process to facilitate economic outcomes in preference to social and environmental outcomes.
This will require planners to gain greater financial acumen and act as urban entrepreneurs.

This will inevitably require the planner to adopt a hybrid role involving the following:

First, as a technician who seeks to be a value neutral adviser to decision makers; but

Secondly, and more significantly, as a politician who is a value committed activist who advocates economic growth.
It is this second political role that is likely to cause significant ethical dilemmas in the planning profession for the following reasons:
  • First, there is currently a strong professional and in some cases personal commitment, to sustainable development and its goal of balanced economic, social and environmental outcomes.
  • Second, to actively facilitate development could be seen to co-opt planning to the private sector which is only one of the sectorial interests involved in urban planning, and whose concern is profit.

Conclusions – Neoliberalism rules?

Planners play a critical role in influencing and sometimes preventing urban change through their work for the private, public and third sectors; which are the institutions responsible for urban change in our society.

The traditional modern and postmodern perspectives of planning that have underpinned the planners’ use of planning theory and practice in Queensland are being challenged by an energised neoliberal perspective.

The neoliberal approach rejects planning’s role as a tool to correct and avoid market failure and seeks to subsume planning as a minimalist form of spatial regulation to provide certainty to the market and facilitate economic growth.

Planners must understand that neoliberalism is but a process; it is not an end state of history or geography. The neoliberal project is neither universal, monolithic or inevitable; it is contestable (Peck and Tickell 2002:383).

Neoliberalism is simply the process of restructuring the relationships between the public, private and third sectors, to rationalise and promote a growth first approach to urban change.

As such, each planner must personally and professionally determine where they stand in relation to the restructuring of the institutions of urban change that is being heralded by the reform of planning and the planning system in Queensland.

Planners, if they are to avoid political irrelevancy, must take an active and positive part in the forthcoming contest of ideas.

Further reading

Abercrombie, P 1959, Town and Country Planning, Oxford University Press, London.

Allmendinger, P and Haughton, G 2012, 'Post-political spatial planning in England: A crisis of consensus?', Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, vol. 37, no. 1, pp89-103.

Alexander, E 1986, Approaches to Planning: Introducing Current Planning Theories, Concepts and Issues, Gordon and Breach, Langhorne.

Alexander, ER, Mazza, L and Moroni, S 2012, 'Planning without plans? Nomocracy or teleocracy for social-spatial ordering', Progress in Planning, vol. 77, pp37-87.

Arnstein, S 1969, 'A ladder of citizen participation', Journal of the American Institute of Planner, vol. 35, no. 4, pp216-224.

Balducci, A, Boelens, L, Hillier, J, Nyseth, T and Wilkinson, C 2011, 'Strategic spatial planning in uncertainty: Theory and exploratory practice', Town Planning Review, vol. 82, no. 5, pp483-501.

Calthorpe, P 1993, The Next American Metropolis, Princeton Architectural Press, New York.

Cook, N and Ruming, K 2008, 'On the fringe of neoliberalism: Residential development in our outer suburban Sydney', Australian Geographer, vol. 39, no. 2, pp211-228.

Clarke, G 1992, 'Towards appropriate forms of urban spatial planning', Habitat International, vol. 16, no. 2, pp149-165.

Davidoff, P 1965, 'Advocacy and pluralism in planning', Journal of the American Institute of Planners, vol. 31, no. 4, pp186-197.

Dowling, R and McGuirk, P 2009, 'Master-planned residential developments: Beyond iconic spaces of neoliberalism?', Asia Pacific Viewpoint, vol. 50, no. 2, pp120-134.

Eagle, SJ 2009, 'Reflections on private property, planning and state power', Planning and Environmental Law, vol. 61, no. 1, pp3-11.

Fainstein, S 2000, 'New directions in planning theory', Urban Affairs Review, vol. 35, pp451-478.

Faludi, A 1973, Planning Theory, Pergamon, Oxford.

Filion, P 1999, 'Rupture of continuity? Modern and postmodern planning in Toronto', International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, vol. 23, no. 3, pp421-444.

Filion, P 2001, 'The urban policy-making and development dimension of fordism and post-fordism: A Toronto case study', Space and Polity, vol. 5, no. 2, pp85-111.

Filion, P and Kramer, A 2011, 'Metropolitan-scale planning in neoliberal times: Financial and political obstacles to urban form transition', Space and Polity, vol. 15, no. 3, pp197-212.

Forester, J 1989, Planning in the Face of Power, University of California, Berkeley.

Forster, C 2006, 'The challenge of change: Australian cities and urban planning in the new millennium', Geographical Research, vol. 44, no. 2, pp173-182.

Friedmann, J 1987, Planning in the Public Domain from Knowledge to Action, Princeton University Press Princeton, New Jersey.

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This article has been published by Colin Biggers & Paisley for information and education purposes only and is a general summary of the topic(s) presented. This article is not specific legal advice. Please seek your own legal advice for any questions you may have. All information contained in this article is subject to change. Colin Biggers & Paisley cannot be held responsible for any liability whatsoever, or for any loss howsoever arising from any reliance upon the contents of this article.​

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