This article reviews "the forces underpinning Chinese urbanization.... This paper is divided into two main parts. The first addresses the (non-spatial) causal mechanisms between 1949 and 1977. Neither the ideological, the class, nor the economic formulation has touched on the more systemic mechanisms related to the socialist state and the shortage economy. This paper attempts to redress the imbalance by examining the advantages of combining Kornai's shortage model with Foucault's concept of governmentality. By drawing on concepts of spatial contingency, spatial boundary and locality effects, the second part of the paper argues that spatial relations do play significant roles in revealing Chinese urbanisation policies and patterns."
This monograph provides a systematic analysis of interprovincial migration in China and regional population dynamics since the 1950s. Data were obtained from the 1% sample survey of 1987. Chapters are devoted to an examination of the main features of population distribution and spatial differences of major demographic indicators, the causes and selectivity of migration, and the structure of migration. Explanatory models are used to estimate regional in- and out-migration rates and to identify factors that determine regional differences between those rates. The analysis of regional population trends since the 1950s is used to produce multiregional population projections at the provincial level for the period 1987-2087. The final chapter discusses the implications for socioeconomic development of regional population trends. Employment, marriage, and reunions with family are the three main causes of migration in China. City migrants tend to move between cities, while town and county migrants move to other towns in the same province or cities in other provinces. The eastern economic zones (Zhejiang, Fujian, and Guangxi) had net in-migration during 1982-87. Other regions with net in-migration included the middle and western economic zones, with the exception of Hubei and Ningxi provinces, which had net out-migration. Most interprovincial migration flows were between neighboring provinces. The direction of flows was from less developed middle and western economic zones to more developed eastern economic zones. The migration pattern during 1982-87 reversed the pattern during 1949-78. The migration flows were sensitive to the shift in migration policy, to economic reforms, and to strategies of economic development that favored the east coast. The natural components of population change will have a vital impact on regional population changes, which are unevenly distributed across the nation.
This paper explores the transformations of the housebuilding industry under the policy requirement to build on previously developed land (PDL). This requirement was a key lever in promoting the sustainable urban development agenda of UK governments from the early 1990s to 2010 and has survived albeit somewhat relaxed and permutated in the latest National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). The paper therefore looks at the way in which the policy push towards densification and mixed use affected housebuilders’ business strategy and practices and their ability to cope with the 2007 downturn of the housing market and its aftermath. It also points out the eventual feedback of some of these practices into planning policy.
While industralization programmes have been central to the development of Asia-Pacific states and city-regions over the past half-century, service industries are increasingly important as instruments of urban growth and change. The purpose of this paper is to establish service industries as increasingly significant aspects of urban development within the Asia-Pacific, and to propose a conceptual and analytical framework for scholarly investigation within this important research domain. To this end the paper explores a sequence of related themes and issues, concerning the larger developmental implications of urban services growth (or tertiarization), the facets of urban transformation associated with tertiarization, and a preliminary typology of urban service functions which acknowledges the rich diversity of service vocations and stages of development within the Asia-Pacific. The paper concludes that “advanced services”—specialized, intermediate service industries, advanced-technology services, and creative service industries—will be quite crucial to the development of city-regions within the Asia-Pacific, with respect to employment growth and human capital formation, to the urban economic (or export) base, to the operation of flexible production systems, and to competitive advantage. The development of these urban service poles will require innovative policy commitments and regulatory adjustments, as will the multi-centred specialized urban service corridors which function as engines of regional economic growth, and which provide platforms for national modernization and responses to the pressures (and opportunities) of globalization. To date, urban and regional development strategies for service industries within the Asia-Pacific have privileged globalization, industrial restructuring, and modernization aims, but there is also an encouraging record of more progressive planning experimentation in some jurisdictions, incorporating principles of sustainability and co-operative development. There is also increasing interest in policies to support cultural and creative industries among Asia-Pacific city-regions, informed by some recent urban policy experimentation in this domain. These experiences can offer models for further policy and programmatic innovation in the 21st century, as service industries continue to play larger roles in urban and regional development within the Asia-Pacific.
In recent years, attention has been drawn to the fact that now more than half of the world's population is urbanised, and the bulk of these urban dwellers are living in the global South. Many of these Southern towns and cities are dealing with crises which are compounded by rapid population growth, particularly in peri-urban areas; lack of access to shelter, infrastructure and services by predominantly poor populations; weak local governments and serious environmental issues. There is also a realisation that newer issues of climate change, resource and energy depletion, food insecurity and the current financial crisis will exacerbate present difficult conditions. As ideas that either ‘the market’ or ‘communities’ could solve these urban issues appear increasingly unrealistic, there have been suggestions for a stronger role for governments through reformed instruments of urban planning. However, agencies (such as UN-Habitat) promoting this make the point that in many parts of the world current urban planning systems are actually part of the problem: they serve to promote social and spatial exclusion, are anti-poor, and are doing little to secure environmental sustainability. Urban planning, it is argued, therefore needs fundamental review if it is to play any meaningful role in current urban issues.
In the Canadian North the post-contact era has seen the erosion of aboriginal self-determination. State intervention premised on resource exploitation, maintenance of sovereignty, compassion, and implementation of regional development policies intended to address economic inequalities set the pace and boundaries of social, economic and political change. There are now signs of potential opportunities to redress the asymmetrical power balance. However, the limits of the new social contract are becoming clearer. The issue of aboriginal self-determination through self-government has reached an impasse. Breaking this impasse will require a paradigm shift of equal or greater magnitude than occured with the formal recognition of aboriginal rights and title in 1973. The role of communities in a northern development strategy is limited by jurisdictional uncertainty, unfavourable factors of production, chronic economic dependency and factionalism among aboriginal leaders. Prospects for change through the Nunavut proposal for a separate territory and the emerging land claim settlements, are limited. Evidence of emerging centralised aboriginal regimes and provisions are inconsistent with community development and autonomy. Nevertheless emerging strategies offer tangible, but constrained opportunities, to put the momentum into practice.
The U.S. federal government appears committed to the idea of performance measurement. The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (1991), provides an opportunity to change the focus of metropolitan transportation planning and policy from fostering mobility (more travel) increasing accessibility (greater potential for desired interaction), which is widely viewed as a desirable objective among planners and the general public. This paper does three things: (1) defines the concept and clarifies questions of measurement, (2) reviews the literature to identify importat issues associated with changing accessibility, including accessibility's relationship to land use and value, poverty and unemployment, race, energy use and air pollution, (3) reports results from a case study of change in gravity-accessibility to employment by automobile in Atlanta, between 1980 and 1990.Other authors have argued that accessibility has been increasing over time, as well as becoming more homogenous in U.S. metropolitan areas. Together these developments are thought to have reduced its policy importance. This case study illustrates that this was not entirely the case in Atlanta in the late 1980s. Overall accessibility declined at the end of the decade, rather than continuing its steady increase, and its influence on residential density at the tract level (the access-density gradient) also changed direction. However, accessibility's explanatory power did decline from 1980 to 1900 in Atlanta, as expected. It seems likely therefore that accessibility will continue to be valuable as an indicator of metropolitan transportation systems' performance, as well as allowing planners to better anticipate change and to be more aware of its consequences.
This is a study of housing supply in three urban areas in Ghana: Accra the capital city, Kumasi, the most important provincial city, and Berekum, a small town. The sample of over 1600 households is divided into renters, recent owners, and longer established owners. The last group is divided into those who have and those who have not extended their home in the previous 6 years. The data provides an insight into who is supplying houses (and extensions), what sort of housing they are building, their reasons for building and the problems encountered in achieving ownership. The study shows that house ownership is available to much lower income households than expected, especially when traditional compounds are built; that owners are relatively old, have large households and occupy considerably more rooms than renters, and build houses larger than they need and let the remainder to tenants or relatives. There is a great need for housing finance because land is currently inappropriate for collateral against a building loan. Research is needed to develop a means by which land could be used as collateral for a loan without unravelling the customary non-marketability of land.
This paper is concerned with the problems of developing policies which stimulate urban economic development without causing sub-optimal damage to the environment. It is, therefore, concerned with policies which lead to sustainable urban growth. The objective is to illustrate not only that the consequences of the inadequate consideration of environmental factors in urban policy making have harmful long term, environmental effects but also that these effects can impede the economic development of urban areas as measured more conventionally in terms of job creation and monetary incomes. Further, it is argued that, given the interactive nature of both environmental effects and the remedial policies available to tackle them, it is preferable to consider the application of a portfolio of policy measures rather than pursue a single problem/target strategy. To this latter end a dynamic approach to the long term application of such a portfolio is explored.
This special issue explores emerging research agendas in planning. It brings together scholars from diverse schools working on new areas of research and application in urban design and planning. Emergent research agendas include both novel areas of research and important shifts in the direction of a research area. The challenge for planning schools is to reflect critically on these changes and develop long-term research agendas that can better position our field in society and academia, and provide a basis from which to assess our academic programmes. The chapters presented in this issue reinforce key aspects of planning: multi-scale, and multi-faceted, yet integrative in its intent, stressing the physical, yet inescapably social. At the same time, they identify research areas that respond to major social and environmental changes. Blanco and Alberti focus on the latest findings in climate change science and on planning for adaptation; they highlight the opportunities that planners have to provide leadership in this area. Forsyth, Krizek and Rodríguez take up the issue of non-motorised travel, a topic of increasing interest for urban designers, public health experts and transportation and energy planners. For Talen and Ellis, an emerging challenge is the need to plan for diverse and compact communities. What social factors, policies, programmes and planning processes facilitate compact and diverse communities?
Over the past 15 years, OECD countries have come to recognise that their elderly populations are already, or will be, the fastest growing segments of their populations in the coming decades. In recognition of these demographic facts, public and private sectors planners with responsibility for housing, health and social services and transportation have divided into two camps. In one camp are those who believe that the full integration of the elderly population within their communities is the best way to insure the maximum life satisfaction of the elderly population over the longest period of time. This view manifests itself in proposals to allow ‘in-law suites’ to be built in areas zoned for single-family dwellings, deinstitutionalisaton and concomitant development of community-based care, and public transit systems made fully accessible to seniors regardless of their level of physical ability. In the other camp are those who believe that the elderly population wants and seeks a built environment which specifically caters for their particular needs. The most visible manifestations of this perspective are the ‘seniors only communities’ with their separate health and social services, and transportation systems.
This research centres on the implementation of settlement policies guiding the erection of agricultural dwellings in the countryside. The research methodology employed different theoretical perspective which sought to recognise the complex and often contentious nature of policy implementation and the key role played by particular actors. The policy framework is characterised as possessing deficiencies attributed to the origins of the policy as an uneasy compromise between the interests of agriculture and other claims on the use of the countryside.The research shows that in practice a significant proportion of applications for agricultural dwellings did not meet clear policy criteria. However, the overwhelming majority of such applications were nonetheless supported by councillors, often to the extent of overtunning recommendations for refusal on policy grounds. Particularly prominent in that decision-making role were those rural councillors from an agricultural background who shared similar “interest-in-land” as applicants and who exercised a disproportionate influence in the determination of such applications. Such interests of the agricultural landowner were found to be in conflict with the officer interpretation of the “public interest”.Recommendations from the research include increased third party involvement in decision-making, tighter monitoring of decisions considered contrary to policy and further liaison between academics and practitioners in analysing the impact of land use planning
The English countryside has, in recent years, been subject to an array of development pressures, many of which have been the focus of both national and local debate. Local planning authorities (LPAs) have been handed the task of negotiating these pressures and navigating a difficult path between the need to permit necessary development and the desire to sustain environmental quality and local amenity. It is within this context that less contentious development sites have been sought which also offer sustainable solutions. Wartime airfields have, in many instances, been seen as suitable sites for redevelopment and it is patterns of land re-use on such sites that provide the focus of this research monograph.Through a national survey of local planning practice on wartime airfields, and a series of local case studies, the research which is reported within this monograph explores both the ways in which re-use has been regulated by the UK planning system and the nature of re-use on different sites. Maintaining the rights of aviation groups is an added pressure upon this process. More specifically, the monograph focuses attention on current uses on these sites, the regulatory role of the planning system and the compatibility of new and established uses.
In this paper we consider the question, ‘What is the the scope for using results of economic valuation studies in the appraisal and assessment of heritage-related projects and programmes?’ This entails assessing the potential role and scope of ‘value transfer’, which is an approach to economic valuation that uses results of previous valuation studies (for example, travel cost or stated preference studies) in the appraisal of projects and programmes. A distinct appeal of value transfer is its expediency and value for money properties in relation to commissioning original valuation studies, which can enable greater use of economic values within decision making. Its potential role in the appraisal of heritage assets depends on whether it is deemed a reliable approach to economic valuation, and whether there is a sufficient body of economic valuation literature concerning the heritage sector. Correspondingly, we examine: (i) the applicability of economic valuation to the historic environment; (ii) the basis for value transfer; and (iii) the literature pertaining to the valuation of the historic environment. We also develop a case study, which demonstrates the use of value transfer in a heritage context. Overall there currently appears to be limited scope for value transfer applications in heritage-related appraisal and evaluation exercises. This is in part due to the heterogeneity and complexity of heritage assets. However, a more fundamental constraining factor is the current extent of heritage valuation literature; only 30 valuation studies were identified relating to the historic environment. We recommend that future work focuses on developing a database of valuation studies relating to the heritage sector, and on establishing a broader base of high-quality original heritage-related economic valuation studies. Moreover, where value transfer is applied in an appraisal and evaluation context to heritage assets, much emphasis should be placed on satisfying the criteria for identifying suitable valuation evidence from existing studies.
Tore Sager is Professor in the Department of Transportation Engineering, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway. He graduated as an economist and received his Dr.techn. degree at the Nordic Institute for Studies in Urban and Regional Planning, Stockholm, in 1990. Major fields of work have been transport economics, urban land use, transportation planning, and techniques and methods in planning. His current research interest is planning theory, particularly communicative planning theory and the study of bounded rationality in transportation planning processes. He published Communicative Planning Theory (Avebury) in 1994.
Governments and development specialists in Asia are publicly committed to the sustainable development concept. However, there is little evidence that Asian nations are making real progress towards sustainable development, despite signing global and regional agreements on the environment, establishing new environmental agencies, preparing national sustainable development plans, and requiring environmental impact assessments for development projects.This article identifies a missing link in the nested hierarchy of sustainable development plans in Asia, which may be one of the reasons why intentions at the national level are not being translated into sustainable development at the local level (where the social–economic–environmental interactions are most commonly realized). This missing link is integrated economic-cum-environmental (E-c-E) planning at the sub-national level.The article investigates five case studies of integrated E-c-E planning at the sub-national level, through a process of collaborative action research and the case study method. Findings from the case studies are combined with qualitative data from an analysis of success factors and constraints from the literature on sustainable development planning at other levels (from global to project) and other regions, using an iterative process of pattern matching.The results of this analysis are used to derive a checklist and decision trees to guide development specialists in deciding whether to proceed with an integrated E-c-E planning study at the sub-national level in Asia. The article also shows how to improve the design of integrated E-c-E studies to increase the probability of successful outcomes. The probable resource implications of these changes are discussed. The article concludes that an improved approach to integrated E-c-E planning at the sub-national level may play a pivotal role in the hierarchy of planning and thus assist in leading Asian nations towards sustainable development, and provides some ideas for further application and investigation.
The question of how and where to accommodate the growing number of households in Britain is a key issue for both academic and policy debate. The research presented in this paper identifies the principal factors underlying the increasing pressure for residential development in the countryside around major towns and cities. The relative merits of alternative forms of urban development are assessed. The potential significance of a new settlement strategy in meeting the challenge of urban development in the United Kingdom in the 21st century is highlighted. With the United Kingdom policy environment as conceptual framework, the discussion examines three key issues that affect the nature and feasibility of new settlements. These relate to the distribution of the costs and benefits of development; the social balance of new communities; and the appropriate development agency. The conceptual analysis of the new settlement strategy is complemented by empirical evidence from major stakeholders in relation to key aspects of the new settlement option. Finally, a number of policy-oriented recommendations are presented to inform development of a new programme of new settlements for Britain in the early 21st century.
In the last 20 years the issues forming the agenda of Australian planning have been transformed. The challenge of environmental sustainability, new definitions of democracy, a concern for gender and ethnicity issues, and the reduced role of the state in market societies have been major sources of change. The combined effect of these reform impulses has been to muddy the overall sense of purpose within Australia's planning systems. Apart from this sense of confusion over planning values, the deregulatory agenda of neo-liberalism has cut a deep swathe through Australia's spatial regulation systems. Our aim is to locate today's Australian institutional reform agendas in the context of changing values and critiques, and to consider their combined effects on urban and regional planning. We begin by considering the values which informed the generic idea of planning following the Second World War. We then consider, at the intermediate level, the emergence of disillusionment with the effects of modernist urban planning and briefly discuss the four main strands of critique — Marxism, radical democratic outlooks, environmentalism and anti-planning conservatism — which have developed in the last three decades. Detailed empirical analysis is undertaken of contemporary neo-liberal reform processes. From this, we consider the broad field of recent `reform politics' in Australian planning, focusing upon the implications of neo-liberalism for progressive green and radical democratic critiques. Finally, we return to the value positions of earlier critiques with a view to recovering the basis for a political–ethical renewal of Australian planning.
This paper is concerned with the production and reproduction of segregation in Northern Ireland and how territoriality has impacted on the Protestant community in Derry/Londonderry. The city was pivotal in the development of the most recent conflict, has a majority Catholic population, sits on a contested border and has attempted to respond to expressions of alienation that have emerged from the Protestant community. The research used multiple methods to understand the nature of alienation and exclusion using secondary data, a quantitative household survey, in-depth interviews and focus groups. This empirical commitment was important in identifying and unpacking the claims of various stakeholders with an interest in the use and development of the area. It is argued here that a version of Collaborative Planning provides a loosely articulated conceptual and methodological framework for drawing Protestant communities into the wider planning framework for the city. The data, however, suggest that the nature of stakeholders is complex and contradictory, and discursive practice that seeks consensus has limits, especially in validating or legitimating the assertions of self-acclaimed stakeholders. The research shows that the Protestant community had declined and residualised but had little experience of direct conflict with the majority community. Moreover, the Protestant community is now more likely to use the city centre (a predominantly Catholic space) for consumption and work, and its demographic decline has stopped. These findings are important as policy responses and community relations programmes have failed to distinguish between measurable socio-economic needs and claims concerning ethnic alienation based on emotion and manipulation. Such alienation has tended to bolster single identity communities who have little or no prospect and/or knowledge of the collaborative efforts required to deliver meaningful regeneration. More realistic strategies based on agonism focus attention on power relations and the authenticity of positions adopted by competing interests in land use management and change. The paper concludes by highlighting the need to acknowledge and value contestation but to challenge sectarian discourses represented as legitimate claims about community needs and priorities.
This paper assesses the emerging impact of the British government's modernisation programme on the economic development role of local government. New survey and interview evidence is used to compare with earlier surveys, dating from the 1980s. In addition surveys of local government relations with other partner bodies are used to assess how governance has developed in the new institutional setting of devolved institutions in Scotland and Wales, and regional bodies in England. The paper demonstrates that local economic development has stabilised in the level of dedicated staff, with resource of about 2.5% of local budgets, representing a national contribution of approximately £360m. Central government's modernisation programme is, as yet, only a minor influence on these changes. The Community Strategy and new well being powers have as yet had only limited impact on activities. Best Value has, however, induced major change in approach in the majority of areas, especially by focusing on targets. The development of a complex network of regional, sub-regional and local partnerships evidences a complex multi-agent environment for local government in which its role has remained important, but in which its inter-links with other bodies have multiplied and complexity has significantly increased. The paper demonstrates the emergence of a closer inter-linkage of economic and social agendas within the new governance regime since 1997, which continues to be inclusive of private sector concerns, but has also sought greater social inclusion. This appears most evident in areas with access to well-funded urban regeneration programmes, rather than systematically across the system, which tends to confirm the continuing dominance of central government roles in local and regional governance.
The general goal of this research was to address the broad question, does consensus work in resource management decision-making? Its purpose was to identify success factors for employing the consensus decision-making model specifically in land use planning; to examine the models incepted by the government of British Columbia during the period 1992–1995; and to investigate the application and effectiveness of the models as actually employed in integrated resource planning in British Columbia. The specific objective was to develop a general diagnostic framework for evaluation, based on indicators and success factors derived from a review of pertinent literature; from interviews with stakeholder participants in these processes; through review of government documentation, and through interviews with government officials who design and manage those processes.
This study explores the prospects of decentralisation and consensus building within the context of local economic development in Turkey. The broad theoretical concern of this research is the tension between the centre and periphery in the governance structure of Turkey. Over 80 interviews from three rapidly growing medium-sized cities, Denizli, Gaziantep and Kayseri, indicate that considerable decentralisation in recent decades has enabled municipalities and local groups to formulate and realise local projects. However, detailed case studies from Kayseri illustrate both the importance of kinship and social ties in forming alliances and identifying priorities in local politics. Charismatic individuals play a crucial role in initiating and driving local projects. The experience of Kayseri in local economic development through local initiatives demonstrates the current battles among different civic groups, numerous economic interests, and the national party agendas of political leaders.The study concludes that decentralisation has to be considered together with enhancing participatory democracy in governance at the local and national levels in Turkey. This transformation can only be achieved with a strong and credible state. The importance of a strong and credible state is even greater in the absence of a supranational body like the European Union within which localities can co-operate and interact. Perhaps more importantly, in the wake of unpredictable distortions imposed on localities by the globalisation of economic and financial activities, localities need a safeguarding national and/or supra-national mechanism in governance as well as in policy design.
Shifts in developmental and environmental imperatives in the late 1980s and early 1990s have prompted concomitant reassessments of urban management practice. In this context, discourses advancing a ‘traditional’ form of urbanism have emerged as an alternative take on how to create the built landscape. The ideas promoted in the discourses have been quickly adopted internationally, and implemented in a myriad of urban development projects. However, it is the contention of this paper that such endorsement of urbanist principles has been hasty and uncritical.
This project researched the problems of evaluating public sector small business loan and grant schemes. The methodology was to use case studies of four loan and grant schemes run by enterprise agencies on contract from task forces or city challenges. These case studies were selected following a mapping exercise of 27 finance schemes in north east London.Research showed that evaluation relied on performance indicators. The main measures used were deployment of funds, job creation, leverage of additional funds, lender of last resort, ethnicity of recipients, default rate, and enquiry levels. Four technical problems with these performance indicators were found. First, the interpretation of indicators varied between organisations. Second, performance indicators judged agencies on areas which were outside their control. Third, indicators failed to take account of the full range of work involved in managing a loan and grant scheme. Fourth, lender of last resort and leverage were incompatible in their preferred risk position and no attempt was made to reconcile the two.That these technical weaknesses were not taken into account in the weight given to performance indicators led to four organisational effects. First, agencies seemed to have made their own attempt to render the indicators meaningful, reflecting the conditions under which the schemes had been first established. The existence of strong political, auditing, and time pressures led to three management styles designated as client oriented, bureaucratic, and entrepreneurial. Second, the system encouraged managing agencies to distort figures to produce more favourable results. For instance, rescheduling of debts allowed the agency to avoid recording high levels of default. Third, the focus of information gathering on external needs (those of the funders) seemed to have discouraged agencies from contemplating and developing their own data systems. This might reflect either a lack of resources or a fear that any information could be used against them.Several possible explanations for these problems are explored in this report. Objectives were ambiguous because of the under-development of programme theory. Data was not always available because its collection was not of value to the enterprise agency. Communication between funders and agencies was poor because funders had come to see their main power as residing in the re-tendering of contracts.These points present part of the explanation, but a further level of analysis is possible. That theory is under-developed, data unavailable, and communication weak are symptoms of a deeper problem. This is the problem that performance management is operating under a positivist theory of knowledge. Several possible improvements to the evaluation of small business loan and grant schemes are explored in this paper. Key among these is an acknowledgement of the limitations of evaluation through adopting a developmental approach within a culture of organisational learning. This paper illustrates the value of adopting a developmental approach, but also the fundamental transformation which it implies.“With each new evaluation, the evaluator sets out, like an ancient explorer, on a quest for useful knowledge, not sure whether seas will be gentle, tempestuous, or becalmed. Along the way the evaluator will often encounter any number of challenges: political intrigues wrapped in mantles of virtue; devious and flattering antagonists trying to co-opt the evaluation in service of their own narrow interests and agendas; unrealistic deadlines and absurdly limited resources; gross misconceptions about what can actually be measured with precision and definitiveness; deep-seated fears about the evils-incarnate of evaluation, and therefore, evaluators; incredible exaggerations of evaluators' power; and insinuations about defects in the evaluator's genetic heritage (Patton, 1997: 38; Utilisation Focused Evaluation).”
Post-development theorists have argued that ideas such as ‘progress’, ‘growth’, ‘poverty’ and ‘underdevelopment’, are artifacts of a discourse of development that has imposed its normalizing and teleological vision on the world. I intend this essay as a provisional critique of post-development theory. I show with the help of a detailed case study of canal irrigation-led development in central Gujarat, India, that while the general critique of development presented by post-development theorists is valid in many respects, the criticisms they launch are neither novel; nor, are their understandings of development processes particularly nuanced. Morever, I demonstrate that post-development theory is philosophically inconsistent when examined on its own terms. In contrast to the critics of development, whose project concludes, inevitably, in an anti-development stance, I argue that development can be liberatory in particular time–space contexts. We cannot make a priori assessments of development outcomes without understanding the freedoms they enable or curtail: in other words, their moral geographies. I suggest that as development planners and scholars interested in tackling issues of poverty, inequality, and deprivation, we can use our theoretical arsenal to expose and contest capricious and disempowering forms of development; and imagine alternative strategies.