ArticlePDF Available

Abstract

This special section examines the possibility of meaningful debate and contestation over urban decisions and futures in politically constrained contexts. In doing so, it moves with the post‐political times: critically examining the proliferation of deliberative mechanisms; identifying the informal assemblages of diverse actors taking on new roles in urban socio‐spatial justice; and illuminating the spaces where informal and formal planning processes meet. These questions are particularly pertinent for understanding the processes shaping Australian cities and public participation today.
Special Section Planning the Post-Political City Part I
Planning the post-political city: exploring public
participation in the contemporary Australian city
Crystal Legacy,
1
*Nicole Cook,
2
Dallas Rogers,
3
and Kristian Ruming
4
1
Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria,
Australia
2
School of Geography and Sustainable Communities, The University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New
South Wales, Australia
3
School of Architecture, Design and Planning, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales,
Australia
4
Department of Geography and Planning, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
*Corresponding author: Email: crystal.legacy@unimelb.edu.au
Received 20 March 2018 Revised 26 March 2018 Accepted 3 April 2018
Abstract
This special section examines the possibility of meaningful debate and contestation
over urban decisions and futures in politically constrained contexts. In doing so, it
moves with the post-political times: critically examining the proliferation of deliber-
ative mechanisms; identifying the informal assemblages of diverse actors taking on
new roles in urban socio-spatial justice; and illuminating the spaces where informal
and formal planning processes meet. These questions are particularly pertinent for
understanding the processes shaping Australian cities and public participation today.
Keywords post-politics; participation; governance; Australian cities; urban
politics
Cities and the public
What scope is there for genuine debate over the
future of Australian cities? A burgeoning body
of research gathered under the rubric of the
post-political cityis prompting the question of
whether and how meaningful debate about the fu-
ture of cities can occur in liberal democracies such
as Australia. Situated within wider debates about
the quality of politics in contemporary decision-
making practices, post-political theorists caution
that consensus-based planning in particular limits
policy, action, and debate about the social and
environmental injustices taking shape in cities.
Works by Mouffe (2000, 2005), Rancière (1998),
and Žižek (1999) have set the tone for this late
twentieth century post-foundationalist philosophy,
highlighting the costs of consensus politics
and suggesting that liberal democracies have
entered a phase of post-democratisation; the
latter described by Swyngedouw (2011) as the dis-
appearance of the political as a structuring agent in
society. Some of the rst urban scholars to engage
with this post-foundationalist thinking aligned
the post-political city with the inuence of
neoliberalism on public participation and urban
governance and thereby revealed the many ways
in which public opinion was solicited and aggre-
gated to the detriment of practices that would
nurture political diversity and meaningful
debate (Osterlynck & Swyngedouw, 2010;
Swyngedouw, 2009, 2014).
In Australian cities, urban planning over the past
30 years has increasingly aligned with the princi-
ples of neoliberalism (Gleeson & Low, 2000). This
alignment has occurred almost in parallel with
movements away from expert-led planning
towards consensual collaborative planning and
decision-making inspired by theories of communi-
cative rationality (Innes, 1995). These shifts
precipitated concerns that new practices in consen-
sus-based planning could not fully accommodate
diverse subjectivities, nor address the power
asymmetries that were reinforced through
Geographical Research May 2018 56(2), 176180
doi:10.1111/1745-5871.12285
176
neoliberal planning (Purcell, 2009). Recognising
these limits, Allmendinger and Haughton (2012)
have argued that privileging consensus-building
without critically reecting on its relationship to
public protest (when it occurs) may prevent us
from seeing the different ways consensus-building
seeks to continuously displace conict in planning.
Post-political theorists claim that formal,
state-created processes and spaces for participation
increasingly offer no grounds for actual public
debate, nor legitimate spaces for contestation
(Metzger, Allmendinger, & Oosterlynck, 2015;
Purcell, 2009; Rancière, 1998; Swyngedouw,
2009). As a result, debates about the future of the
Australian city are not limited to ofcial planning
fora but instead extend beyond state-mandated
participatory planning to include public-created
spaces. We contend that in these spaces the
negative impacts of planning are politicised.
The post-political Australian city
In recent years, Australian cities have witnessed
large-scale resident-led political campaigns
targeting what those residents see as growing
injustices in urban landscapes. Distorted by
the pressure of neoliberalism, urban planning
processes have decentred social equity and envi-
ronmental sustainability by privileging economic
rationality, competition, and privatisation. The
construction of toll roads in Brisbane and more
recently in Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth has
exposed the impact of these decisions on people.
Present resistance campaigns are motivated by
the mantra that cities are for people and not
solely for producing prot, mirroring others
from the 1970s, including the now famous Green
Bans resistance in Sydney (Burgmann &
Burgmann, 1998) and the anti-freeway cam-
paigns in Melbourne (Legacy, this issue). But,
directly or subtly, present campaigns galvanise
against both the impacts of unfettered
neoliberalisation of cities and its governance,
and the loss of public control of the city and
its processes.
This observation is not intended to suggest that
city planners have abandoned efforts to engage
the public in planning their neighbourhoods,
municipalities, and metropolitan regions. On the
contrary, there have been many best practice
engagement techniques applied by those working
in all tiers of government to enable public partici-
pation over the past two decades: the Western
Australian Governments attempts in the early
2000s to design large-town hall meetings based
on the principles of deliberative democracy
(Perth), or attempts to engage citizen jury
processes in city budgeting exercises (Canada
Bay; City of Melbourne) or to develop a long-term
infrastructure strategy (Infrastructure Victoria).
This is a considerable shift from the primacy of
the expert-led, technocratic plans of the twentieth
century to a comparatively more inclusive
approach to planning now. Nevertheless, there is
a perception that there are few opportunities to
ask fundamental questions about the future of
cities, or the allocation of resources, or the distribu-
tion of goods and services. It is such questions that
attract opposition campaigns and movements,
especially when they remain unanswered, or when
prompted because negative externalities and lost
opportunity costs reveal themselves over time.
It is notable that as these shifts precipitate
greater levels of intergenerational inequity, intense
speculative development, and social cleansing in
diverse neighbourhoods, consultation strategies
have proliferated and failed (Darcy & Rogers,
2014). For example, the compact city has
remained a planning orthodoxy across a succes-
sion of metropolitan strategic planning documents
in Australian capital cities but with very little
understanding of who benets from this urban
form and who and what is lost. It is in this context
that numerous scholars have declared a crisis of
participatory planningin which this mode of
engagement is rendered void of critical substance
and inuence (Darcy & Rogers, 2014; Legacy,
2016: Legacy & van den Nouwelant, 2015;
Monno & Khakee, 2012, Ruming, 2014a,
2014b). A consensus politicsgenerated in
deliberative planning approaches and among the
organisations and institutions of liberal democra-
cies actually evades confrontational and challeng-
ing public discourses about how the city is
constituted and re-created, for whom, and by
whom. Instead, formal state-led processes of city
planning set out clearly dened sites for public
engagement within which participationmight
occur, and these may limit broader expressions of
engaged citizenship.
Despite limited conditions for formal public
participation, agonistic traditions of democratic
participationincluding urban protest and activ-
ismcontinue to punctuate planning decisions
through informal, collective, grassroots action or
through focused, sometimes site-specic, opposi-
tional campaigns (Iveson, 2014). Outside formal
decision-making arenas, urban residents are
establishing new spaces to pursue their politics
(McAuliffe & Rogers, this issue). Beyond street
C. Legacy et al., Planning the post-political city 177
© 2018 Institute of Australian Geographers
protests, blockades, and social media campaigns,
conict is expressed in the social patterns and
population structures forming a central element
of urban (political) change in Australia. This
change can be observed by reference to the
techniques and strategies by which residents,
non-experts, and communities orient planning
and political processes to locally desired
outcomes (Cook et al., 2013; Ruming, Houston,
& Amati, 2012).
Recognising the resurgence of liberal and
market values in Australian cities, this special sec-
tion examines the possibility of meaningful debate
and contestation over urban decisions and futures
in politically constrained contexts. In doing so, it
moves with the post-political times: critically
examining the proliferation of deliberative mecha-
nisms; identifying the informal assemblages of
diverse actors that are taking on new roles in urban
socio-spatial justice; and illuminating the spaces
where informal and formal planning processes
meet. These questions are particularly pertinent in
understanding the processes shaping Australian
cities and public participation today.
Public participation in the post-political
Australian city: a new research agenda
Metzger et al. (2015) and Rancière (1998) ask,
respectively, in what ways is public participation
in planning politicaland how can resident action
be used to counter these post-political tendencies?
One of the challenges faced by the advocates of all
political and social movements is the question of
their effectiveness over time: whether they make
a differenceand, if they do become popular,
whether they become diluted and compromised?
Rather than present informal action as an either/
or proposition, the papers in this special section
highlight the importance of asking how informal
action reshapes and challenges the boundaries of
what is possible in the post-political city. How
does informal planning action render new trajecto-
ries and pathways of urban development both open
and more visible? What organisations, practices,
and resources exist in cities through which a new
politics can be advanced? How representative
are these groups of the city more broadly? Is it
the case that the question is not how many people
are represented here, but what is being said?
Perhaps, in the end, the most important feature of
informal planning movements is not their size,
but their unique capacity to articulate urban futures
that embrace a philosophy of equity within uncer-
tain social and environmental futures. To these
ends, the question of what can be learnt from
the experimental and visionary nature of urban
planning movements and contemporary political
movements is a scholarly question whose time
has come.
The opening paper by Kristian Ruming exam-
ines the political struggle characterising a large
urban regeneration project in Newcastle, New
South Wales. Tracing efforts by state planning
agencies to generate consensus about the need for
inner city regeneration, Ruming asks how these
efforts were destabilised by resident activists who
mobilised an alternative urban vision. His work
reveals the emergence of consensus about the need
for regeneration as opposed to consensus around
the (material) form of regeneration. The paper
illustrates how opponentsefforts to destabilise
consensus claims made by the state can recong-
ure the future city. Examples of where urban
residents have stepped outside the formalised
practices of public consultation to protest, as
in the case in Newcastle, have become common
practice in transport infrastructure planning in
Australian cities.
Crystal Legacy then analyses the establishment
of Infrastructure Victoria, providing an empirical
account of how infrastructure planning responds
to public mobilisation in transport over time.
Drawing together literature on transport politics
and post-politics, she examines the relationship
between public protest and the formal practices
of engagement and concludes that, in sitting in
relation to each other, they produce ever more
savvy ways in which dissensus and consensus
processes co-create each other.
Andrew Butt and Elizabeth Taylor show that
public participation can also be interventionist.
While exercised outside of public submission,
exhibition, and strategic plan-making processes,
these resistance efforts are motivated by people
seeking to change planning outcomes, if not
urban practices more broadly. Focusing on
the urban fringe, they investigate the conict
that characterised the establishment of intensive
broilerpoultry production in peri-urban
Melbourne. Here, Butt and Taylor mobilise
Mouffes problematisation of the negotiation of
antagonism and Rancières ideas about the risk
of a false consensus democracy to highlight
critical issues of participatory planning. They
argue that alternative politics emerges in re-
sponse to changing understanding of place, the
status of peri-urban regions, and ethical issues
associated with intensive farming, despite an ap-
parent consensus around the agricultural identity
Geographical Research May 2018 56(2), 176180178
© 2018 Institute of Australian Geographers
of peri-urban regions and the presence of a
code-based planning system.
The papers assembled in this special section
throw new light on the under-analysed elements
of post-political theoryincluding the unchart-
ered geographies of agonism and activism through
which the alternative planning pathways discussed
by Butt and Taylor emerge. To this end, Cameron
McAuliffe and Dallas Rogers respond to Mouffes
call to move beyond a limited consensus politics,
which serves to re-enforce post-political processes
and perpetuate the urban agenda of an entrenched
urban elite. They test Mouffes theory empirically
to see if the transition from antagonism to agonism
is possible in Sydney. Mouffe contends that
traditional antagonisms between enemiesneed
to be moderated to a more mutual adversarial
position, and McAuliffe and Rogers deploy these
ideas to investigate how resident groups and urban
alliances engage with the post-political city, in
the face of recongured urban governance and
regulatory frameworks.
The resident-led processes discussed by
Ruming and Legacy show that there is an appetite
among people to ask questions that planning
has foreclosed from public viewnamely, what
is the future of the city and what interventions
and urban governance arrangements are necessary
to ensure that this future remains in public
ownership? This question forms the focus of
Heather MacDonalds question has planning been
de-democratised in Sydney?In her paper,
MacDonald confronts the ongoing reconguration
of urban governance and regulatory frameworks
outlined in the paper by McAuliffe and Rogers.
MacDonald argues that recent attempts by the
New South Wales Government at planning reform,
council amalgamation, and the advent of a new
metropolitan commission emerge as an (evolving)
neoliberal effort to streamline development and
de-democratise planning. Yet such efforts are
contested by some urban residents, and the impacts
of these initiatives remain uncertain, at least in
terms of development approval and economic
performance. The capacity of state planning
agencies to secure consensus using reformed
planning frameworks emerges as inherently
unstable.
In short, this collection of papers raises new
questions for the study of politics and public
participation in the Australian city. The papers
extend post-political research by engaging with
Australian urban contexts where planning authori-
ties struggle against powerful national logics of
property speculation and accumulation yet nd
support from social and political movements for
more democratic planning policies and practices.
References
Allmendinger, P. and Haughton, G., 2012. Post-political spatial
planning in England: a crisis of consensus? Transactions of
the Institute of British Geographers, 37(1), pp.89103.
Burgmann, M. and Burgmann, V., 1998. Green Bans, Red
Union: Environmental Activism and the New South Wales
Builders LabourersFederation. Sydney, Australia: UNSW
Press.
Cook, N., Taylor, E.J. and Hurley, J., 2013. At home with
strategic planning: reconciling residentseveryday
territorialisation/s of home with policies and practices of res-
idential densication. Australian Planner, 50(2), pp.1307.
Darcy, M.and Rogers, D., 2014. Inhabitance, place-making and
the right to the city: public housing redevelopment in Sydney.
International Journal of Housing Policy, 14(3), pp.23656.
Gleeson, B. and Low, N., 2000. Australian Urban Planning:
New Challenges, New Agendas. Sydney, Australia: Allen &
Unwin.
Innes, J.E., 1995. Planning theorys emerging paradigm:
communicative action and interactive practice. Journal of
Planning Education and Research, 14(3), pp.1839.
Iveson, K., 2014. Building a city for The People: the politics of
alliance-building in the Sydney Green Ban Movement.
Antipode, 46(4), pp.9921013.
Legacy, C., 2016. Transforming transport planning in the
postpolitical era. Urban Studies, 53(14), pp.3018124.
Legacy, C. and van den Nouwelant, R., 2015. Negotiating
strategic plannings transitional spaces: the case of guerrilla
governancein infrastructure planning. Environment and
Planning A, 47(1), pp.20926.
Metzger, J., Allmendinger, P. and Oosterlynck, S., eds., 2015.
Planning against the Political: Democratic Decits in
European Territorial Governance. New York: Routledge.
Monno, V. and Khakee, A., 2012. Tokenism or political
activism? Some reections on participatory planning.
International Planning Studies, 17(1), pp.85101.
Mouffe, C., 2000. The Democratic Paradox. London, U.K:
Verso.
Mouffe, C., 2005. On the Political. London, U.K: Routledge.
Osterlynck, S. and Swyngedouw, E., 2010. Noise reduction: the
postpolitical quandary of night ights at Brussels airport.
Environment and Planning Ai, 42(7), pp.157794.
Purcell, M., 2009. Resisting neoliberalization: communicative
planning or counter-hegemonic movements? Planning
Theory, 8(2), pp.14065.
Rancière, J., 1998. Disagreement. Minneapolis: University of
Minnesota Press.
Ruming, K., 2014a. Urban consolidation, strategic planning and
community opposition in Sydney, Australia: unpacking
policy knowledge and public perceptions. Land Use Policy,
39(July), pp.25465.
Ruming, K., 2014b. Social mix discourse and local resistance to
social housing: the case of the nation building economic stim-
ulus package, Australia. Urban Policy and Research, 32(2),
pp.16383.
Ruming, K., Houston, D. and Amati, M., 2012. Multiple subur-
ban publics: rethinking community opposition to consolida-
tion in Sydney. Geographical Research, 50(4), pp.42135.
Swyngedouw, E., 2009. The antinomies of the post-political
city: in search of democratic politics of environmental
production. International Journal of Urban and Regional
Research, 33(3), pp.60120.
C. Legacy et al., Planning the post-political city 179
© 2018 Institute of Australian Geographers
Swyngedouw, E., 2011. Interrogating post-democratization:
reclaiming egalitarian political spaces. Political Geography,
30(7), pp.37080.
Swyngedouw, E., 2014. Insurgent architects, radical cities and
the promise of the political. In: E. Swyngedouw and
W. Japhy, eds. The Post-Political and its Discontents: Space
of Depoliticisation, Spectres Radical Politics. Edinburgh:
Edinburgh University Press. pp.16988.
Žižek, S., 1999. The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of
Political Ontology. London: Verso.
Geographical Research May 2018 56(2), 176180
180
© 2018 Institute of Australian Geographers
... In cities of the global North, landowners and land developers generally have a prominent stake in land development, with some variations by country, although they are often taken for granted and unremarked as policy actors. However, as empirical research shows, with the spread of neoliberal policies, private developers have become more accepted as partners with the state in the provision of urban infrastructure and services, and as key actors in policy processes (Legacy et al., 2018;Macdonald, 2018). At certain moments of well-publicized land conflict or popular opposition to planning policies, the media and public more closely scrutinize land developers, their relationship with state and community actors, and their power over land policy (Sandberg et al., 2013). ...
... Bevir and Rhodes, 2010;Lowndes and Roberts, 2013;Somers, 1998) and theories of postpolitics, especially variants utilized in urban studies and urban planning (e.g. Allmendinger and Haughton, 2012;Legacy et al., 2018;Macdonald, 2018;Swyngedouw, 2005Swyngedouw, , 2018. Institutionalist approaches focus on the role of key actors, ideas and strategies in influencing the trajectories of political institutions (Lowndes and Roberts, 2013;Sabbi and Mensah, 2016). ...
... Scholars concerned with a 'postpolitical turn' in planning practice investigate the (sometimes) hidden role of powerful actors in collaborative planning processes (Allmendinger and Haughton, 2012;Swyngedouw, 2005). Some postpolitical theorists have emphasized that collaborative planning processes control the terms of public debate, in effect undermining the participation of many oppositional voices (Legacy et al., 2018;Rancie`re, 1998;Swyngedouw, 2005). ...
Article
Full-text available
Land developers play an active role as institutional actors that shape the development and governance of urban regions. In this paper, we find that developers not only influence state institutions governing land use, they are place-based actors whose influence is normalized as invited strategic stakeholders in planning exercises. Our analysis highlights the complementarity of institutional and postpolitical theories in offering a nuanced understanding of the multi-faceted and multi-scalar relationships among powerful actors engaged in land development processes. Postpolitical theories highlight the participatory processes of inclusion and exclusion in collaborative-based planning exercises that privilege certain stakeholders and exclude others. Through the lens of institutionalist theory, we move beyond specific land conflicts to focus on the day-today interactions and institutionalized roles of key actors, ideas and political influences in shaping contested land policy and outcomes. The analysis is based on multi-year research projects that drew upon interviews, observation and document analysis of key actors' engagement in initiatives to formulate and implement growth management policies in the Toronto region.
... Even though opportunities for input into planning processes are limited in neoliberal planning systems, many jurisdictions incorporate public participation through, for instance, third-party objection and appeal rights (Ellis, 2004;Hurley et al., 2011), the devolution of local planning decisions to the community scale (Bradley and Sparling, 2017) or participatory planning (Legacy, 2010). Even where formal mechanisms are not available, political pathways for residents to influence development often remain open (Legacy et al., 2018;Ruming, 2018;Taylor et al., 2016). While it is tempting in the context of neoliberal capture of planning regimes to view everyday activisms as democratising influences, these processes are also bound up in the financial objectives and strategies of residents. ...
... Recognising the ways that resident action can influence the location of housing development, residents have been conceptualised as a political force comprising 'suburban publics' (Ruming et al., 2012) and processes of 'clubbisation' (Charmes, 2009) with the capacity to shape urban development and planning outcomes (Cook, 2016(Cook, , 2018. Studies of resident activism tend to interpret such opposition as either a democratising influence (Legacy et al., 2018) or a defence of wealthy, low-density suburban neighbourhoods. For example, Ruming et al. (2012) document the four-year resistance of residents and elected members in Sydney's wealthy North Shore against state government housing targets on the grounds that these would destroy heritage, greenspace and bushland. ...
Article
Full-text available
The financialisation of housing is seen to undermine tenants’ rights, affordable housing and planning controls in order to make housing and homes more amenable to profit extraction. However, the extent to which owner-occupiers themselves seek to influence urban development and planning processes to protect their housing assets has been less well-considered. Through an online survey of 1122 owner-occupiers in Australia, this article redresses this gap. By identifying the financial values participants attach to their home, and their inclinations to join resident action groups, we reveal that those with the strongest investment values are also most inclined to join resident action groups. Expanding conceptualisations of investors beyond institutional investors, the article reveals the agency of financialised owner-occupiers who, as investor-activists, seek to influence planning processes to secure the profitability of their own housing assets. The article thus reconceptualises resident action as a financial strategy to protect long- and short-term housing investments and, in doing so, charts the urban implications of financialised home ownership and investor subjectivities.
... New regulatory-technical instruments have entered the governance landscape without fanfare or controversy, unlike some of the spectacular infrastructures and redevelopments they unleash (McManus and Haughton, 2021). Dealmaking is being codified through regulatory instruments that have not been subject to public debate, nor galvanised opposition (Legacy et al., 2018;cf. McPhilemy, 2013). ...
Article
Full-text available
In this commentary, we argue that augmented concepts and research methods are needed to comprehend hybrid urban governance reconfigurations that benefit market actors but eschew competition in favour of deal-making between elite state and private actors. Fuelled by financialisation and in response to planning conflict are regulatory reforms that legitimise opaque alliances in service of infrastructure and urban development projects. From a specific city (Sydney, Australia) we draw upon one such reform – Unsolicited Proposals – to point to a broader landscape of hybrid urban governance, its reconfigurations of power and potential effect on cities. Whereas neoliberal governance promotes competition and views the state and private sectors as distinct, hybrid urban governance leverages state monopoly power and abjures market competition, instead endorsing high-level public–private coordination, technical and financial expertise and confidential deal-making over major urban projects. We scrutinise how Unsolicited Proposals normalise this approach. Commercial-in-confidence protection and absent tender processes authorise a narrow constellation of influential private and public actors to preconfigure outcomes without oversight. Such reforms, we argue, consolidate elite socio-spatial power, jeopardise city function and amplify corruption vulnerabilities. To theorise hybrid urban governance at the intersection of neoliberalism and Asia-Pacific state-capitalism, we offer the concepts of coercive monopoly (where market entry is closed, without opportunity to compete) and de jure collusion (where regulation reforms codify informal alliances among elites connected across government and corporate and consultancy worlds). We call for urban scholarship to pay closer attention to public–private hybridisation in governance, scrutinising regulatory mechanisms that consecrate deal-making and undermine the public interest.
... Public reaction to governments' failures in delivering infrastructure that meet equity expectations, societal needs and environmental standards has motivated planners to reconsider how urban planning practice moderates outcomes through both urban governance and project-scale management (Legacy et al. 2014;Sager 2016). Some planning practices have shifted from top-down approaches relying on technical expertise, to collaborative bottom-up modes of practice that engage and empower citizens to participate in urban planning and project assessments to better address social issues (Healey 1999(Healey , 2003Sager 2002;Woltjer 2002;Howitt 2003;Legacy et al. 2018;Homsy et al. 2019). Two settings where this can be seen are in Sydney (Australia) and Amsterdam (The Netherlands): in the collaborative planning work of the Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) to create a more sustainable and liveable city (GSC 2017); and in the activities of Amsterdam Municipality prioritising the inclusion of citizens in its smart city and strategic planning (Capra 2018). ...
Article
Full-text available
Social Impact Assessment (SIA) facilitates sustainable and equitable consideration of social issues in transport infrastructure planning. However, SIA practitioners face significant constraints in practice. Good SIA is effective in contributing to institutional mechanisms for holding political, bureaucratic and commercial processes accountable for social outcomes. This paper aims to better understand constraints to the assessment and management of social impacts. Drawing on interviews with expert infrastructure professionals involved in projects in Sydney (Australia), Amsterdam (The Netherlands), and internationally, this paper highlights weaknesses in the implementation of SIA, technical engineering-, time- and cost-focused project management practices, and poorly regulated, politically-driven urban governance and planning processes as key constraints. The findings suggest that overcoming those constraints cannot be the sole responsibility of EIA and SIA practitioners and there is more to be considered than practice alone. Instead, this requires an integrated approach across multi-level governance scales and the lifecycle of projects. This paper concludes that for good practice SIA to be realised as intended, systemic adjustments are needed in the planning of urban transport infrastructure, to address constraints and ensure that social impacts are considered in strategic stages and prioritised equally against other project and urban planning issues in decision-making.
... However, a chorus of independent political civic action groups did arise, raising awareness about the potential negative impacts of SL and Quayside. As Legacy et al. (2018) also observed in their work, this action took place in spaces outside formal planning. It was #Blocksidewalk, prominent venture capitalists, and the CCLA that raised "fundamental questions about the future of cities,…the allocation of resources, or the distribution of goods and services" . ...
Article
Full-text available
‘Smart cities’ has become a hegemonic concept in urban discourses, despite substantial criticism presented by scholarly research and activism. The aim of this research was to understand what happens when one of the big digital corporations enters the field of real estate and land use development and urban planning, how existing institutions respond to this, and how modes of urban governance are affected. Alphabet Inc.’s plans for Toronto’s waterfront provided insights into these questions. Our investigations traced a complex web of place-making practices that involved all levels of government, the general public, and networks of actors throughout the private sector. Methodologically, the discourse was reconstructed with local fieldwork, interviews with key actors, participating in tours and public meetings, and secondary sources. It was found that Alphabet Inc.’s plan to build a world-class digital city contained some lessons for urban studies and urban planning practice. First, Alphabet Inc.’s plans, which unfolded amidst initiatives to expand the knowledge economy, confirmed concerns that the trajectory of neoliberal, market-driven land use and speculation along the waterfront remains unchanged. Second, digital infrastructures are potentially a Trojan Horse. Third, it was seen that municipalities and their modes of urban planning are vulnerable to the political economic manoeuvrings of large corporate power. Fourth, Alphabet Inc. operates as a post-political package driven by a new coalition of politics, where the smart city is sold as a neutral technology. The controversies surrounding the project, however, stirred a civic discourse that might signal a return of the political.
Article
In the face of uncertainty and rapid change, how governments at all scales remain valued by society will depend on their ability to connect meaningfully, respond to challenges collaboratively, and co-design approaches with the community. However, tensions exist between the legislative obligations of local government organisations and meeting the rapidly growing needs of diverse communities, while simultaneously navigating the complexities of rapid change. Despite the efforts of local governments to obtain broad and representative input through community engagement processes, communities feel they have limited influence on decision-making processes. Further, Australian trust indices show declining levels of trust between the community, government and large institutions. So how can better community engagement practice be cultivated, evidenced, and continue to evolve to respond in increasingly complex contexts? Presenting a case study in the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia, this article explores how a local government organisation is developing an innovative model of excellence in community engagement in collaboration with a regional university. Grounded in a place-based approach to community engagement, the innovation of this emerging model couples futures studies approaches to co-design locally appropriate responses to navigate increasing uncertainty and change. Drawing on literature from community engagement, participatory governance, futures studies and university-community partnerships, this article outlines a research agenda that explores how communities can strengthen their social and economic potential through place-based and futures thinking approaches.
Article
This article demonstrates how Justifications Analysis can be used to understand how citizens effectively politicise land-use proposals in the public sphere. I examine a proposal to develop housing on a public reserve in Auckland, New Zealand, and the moral justifications employed by supporters and concerned citizens. Invoking market and civic justifications, supporters de-politicised it as a partial solution to the housing crisis. In response, concerned citizens politicised the proposal with an anti-privatisation argument that denounced its market evaluation. Drawing on civic and green justifications, they morally evaluated the reserve as a space that should be protected for its recreational and environmental significance. My findings support and extend earlier studies that utilise Justifications Analysis and Boltanski and Thévenot’s justification theory. I reveal how public responses to land-use proposals can be understood as culturally informed political acts that transform seemingly apolitical topics into public issues that are contestable in the public sphere.
Chapter
Full-text available
By 2050 almost 70 per cent of the world’s people are predicted to live in cities. This chapter begins with a discussion about the difference between urbanisation and urbanism, and suggests that it is at the intersections of the various definitions of these ideas that the most important discussions about cities take place. The Aboriginal context of urban development in Australia is discussed as a case in point. The substantive sections provide six brief contextual primers for the chapters in this book, covering: (1) professions and practices; (2) morphology and change; (3) scales and agglomerations; (4) infrastructures and services; (5) experiences and cultures; and (6) inquiry and analysis. The conclusion suggests to understand the relationships between the physical form and social function of cities, and how urbanisation makes people, changes places, shifts power relations, creates property or changes cultures requires a very broad range of data collection and analysis tools, as well as a broad sweep of urbanism theory.
Chapter
In this chapter we explore ‘Public Cities’, asking who the public is, how publics make claims for and of cities and how we can consider these claims in light of the built environment profession’s commitments to justice and participatory governance. In particular, the chapter considers belonging, inclusion and exclusion from both the idea of ‘the public’ and public spaces themselves, and how these dynamics can be configured along racial, gendered, classed and even species lines. We propose an understanding of ‘the public’ as multiple, diverse, porous and shifting, and consider what this means for the design and governance of public space. Further, this chapter explores trends currently shaping ‘public cities’, including neoliberalism, commodification, securitisation, gentrification, neo-colonialism and the policing of public space, and outlines some of the ways that the production, use and governance of the public realm can reveal some of the key conflicts, tensions and possibilities of contemporary urbanism.
Chapter
This chapter explores the tensions between the Aboriginal context of urban development, the practices of professional planners, the participatory planning frameworks of governments and the neoliberalisation of planning governance in Australia. Rather than fitting neatly together, there are fundamental theoretical and practical tensions between Aboriginal, participatory, technocratic and neoliberal planning frameworks. Each dictates a different source of power in terms of setting the urban agenda and making planning decisions. Using the New South Wales planning system as a case study, we analyse each governance process as a discrete way of thinking about urban governance. We highlight where the political power is located to set the urban agenda and to make decisions within each of these processes. We conclude that enabling a suite of power structures in one governance space can undermine important power structures within the other governance processes.
Book
Full-text available
Our age is celebrated as the triumph of liberal democracy. Old ideological battles have been decisively resolved in favour of freedom and the market. We are told that we have moved 'beyond left and right'; that we are 'all in this together'. Any remaining differences are to be addressed through expert knowledge, consensual deliberation and participatory governance. Yet the 'end of history' has also been marked by widespread disillusion with mainstream politics and a rise in nationalist and religious fundamentalisms. And now an explosion of popular protests is challenging technocratic regulation and the power of markets in the name of democracy itself. This collection makes sense of this situation by critically engaging with the influential theory of 'the post-political' developed by Chantal Mouffe, Jacques Rancière, Slavoj Žižek and others. Through a multi-dimensional and fiercely contested assessment of contemporary depoliticisation, The Post-Political and Its Discontents urges us to confront the closure of our political horizons and re-imagine the possibility of emancipatory change. © editorial matter and organisation Japhy Wilson and Erik Swyngedouw, 2014. the chapters their several authors, 2014.
Article
Full-text available
Under a variety of generic names like Occupy!, Indignados, the Outraged, and others, a wave of deeply political protest is rolling through the world’s cities, whereby those who do not count demand a new constituent process for producing space politically. The heterogeneous urban gatherers are outraged by and expose the variegated ‘wrongs’ and spiralling inequalities of autocratic neo-liberalization and actually-existing instituted democratic governance. The celebrated era of urban social movements as the horizon of progressive urban struggles seems to be over. A much more politicized if not radical mobilization, animated by insurgent urban architects, is increasingly choreographing the contemporary theatre of urban politicized struggle and conflict. It is precisely the aftermath of such urban insurrections that provides the starting point for the arguments developed in this chapter. From a radical political perspective, the central question that has opened up, after the wave of insurgencies of the past few years petered out, revolves around what to do and what to think next. Is there further thought and practice possible after the squares are cleared, the tents broken up, the energies dissipated, and everyday life resumes its routine practices? Under a variety of generic names like Occupy!, Indignados, the Outraged, and others, a wave of deeply political protest is rolling through the world’s cities, whereby those who do not count demand a new constituent process for producing space politically. The heterogeneous urban gatherers are outraged by and expose the variegated ‘wrongs’ and spiralling inequalities of autocratic neo-liberalization and actually-existing instituted democratic governance. The celebrated era of urban social movements as the horizon of progressive urban struggles seems to be over. A much more politicized if not radical mobilization, animated by insurgent urban architects, is increasingly choreographing the contemporary theatre of urban politicized struggle and conflict. It is precisely the aftermath of such urban insurrections that provides the starting point for the arguments developed in this chapter. From a radical political perspective, the central question that has opened up, after the wave of insurgencies of the past few years petered out, revolves around what to do and what to think next. Is there further thought and practice possible after the squares are cleared, the tents broken up, the energies dissipated, and everyday life resumes its routine practices?
Article
Full-text available
This paper explores participatory planning approaches in the context of owner-occupiers' opposition to policies and practices of residential densification in suburban neighbourhoods. Drawing on a case study from Melbourne, it shows that residents value lower-density homes for a range of (interrelated) economic, social and practical reasons. While these attachments to home help to explain opposition to policies and practices of residential densification, they also contribute to a range of ‘everyday’ territorialisations that unsettle formal processes of border-making associated with compact city planning. The paper concludes by highlighting the challenges that tensions between housing and home generate, in terms of participatory planning approaches in the context of residential densification.
Article
Full-text available
This article brings Lefebvre's Right to the City thesis into conversation with Bauman's notion of the flawed consumer to account for the neoliberal colonisation of public tenant organising in urban redevelopment. Drawing on a case study of public housing redevelopment from Sydney, Australia, we show that neoliberal community building and the emergence of professional community builders obviate the self-organising efforts of tenants. In this case tenants’ rights were attenuated when the housing authority invited private capital to not only rebuild the physical fabric but also remake the social relations around public tenancy within the trope of consumerism. We argue for a revival of tenant self-organising as a collective political project that might counteract the individualisation of tenants’ rights under neoliberal community building regimes. Such a political project needs to be extended beyond the boundaries of the local neighbourhood or ‘housing estate’ to expose the strategies at work in public housing redevelopment projects. Drawing on Right to the City we argue that inhabitance should confer the right to participate in place-making. We conclude that tenant self-organising is one way that tenants imagine, collectively construct and inhabit lived space; it is a process of meaning- and place-making amongst a community with a shared experience of contemporary urban transformation.
Article
Since September 11th, we frequently hear that political differences should be put aside: the real struggle is between good and evil. What does this mean for political and social life? Is there a ‘Third Way’ beyond left and right, and if so, should we fear or welcome it?
Book
From the theory of "deliberative democracy" to the politics of the "third way," the present Zeitgeist is characterised by an attempt to negate the inherently conflictual nature of democratic politics. Political thought and practice are stifled by a misconceived search fro consensus and the promotion of a bland social unanimity which, as Chantal Mouffe shows, far from being the sign of progress, constitute a serious threat for democratic institutions. Indeed, in many countries this 'consensus of the centre' is providing a platform for the growth of populist right-wing parties which, by presenting themselves as the only 'anti-establishment' forces, are trying to occupy the terrain of contestation deserted by the left. Taking issue with the work of John Rawls and Jurgen Habermas on one side, and with the tenets of the third way as practised by Tony Blair and theorised by Anthony Giddens on the other, Mouffe brings to the fore the paradoxical nature of modern liberal democracy. Against those who affirm that, with the demise of the left/right divide, antagonism has been eliminated from contemporary post-industrial societies and that an all-inclusive politics has become possible, she argues that the category of the 'adversary' plays a central role in the very dynamics of modern democracy. Drawing on the work of Wittgenstein and Derrida, and engaging with the provocative theses of Carl Schmitt, she proposes a new understanding of democracy in terms of 'agonistic pluralism' which acknowledges the ineradicability of antagonism and the impossibility of a final resolution of conflicts.
Article
The aim of this paper is to examine how the postpolitical era of planning has created both binaries and intersections in the reimaging of transport futures and how the latter precipitates a redefinition of democratic transport prioritisation. Focusing particularly on the point in the transport planning process when urban transport priorities are identified, the paper explores how citizens respond to the inherently political, yet not always democratic, aspects of setting transport investment priorities. This relationship is investigated through a single case study of Melbourne, Australia where a six km inner city road tunnel was deemed a ‘done deal’ by elected officials in the lead up to a state election, removing the controversial project from open public scrutiny. Drawing upon ethnographic research and semi-structured interviews with community campaigners opposing the proposed East West Link road tunnel, this analysis reveals how community-based groups and individual residents alike can evolve beyond NIMBY-focused agitation to garner a spatially dispersed re-politicisation of urban transport priorities. While the postpolitical framing of infrastructure delivery introduces a binary between state interventionist planning and citizen opposition, it is the mobilisation of action through the spaces of intersection where new political paradigms for transport planning are created.
Article
Strategic planning can begin as a deliberative and inclusive process of plan making, but then transition into a decisive and exclusive process of investment and priority setting at the stage of implementation. Citizens who once participated in the formal plan making process through government-designed engagement events fade into the background in this critical latter part of strategic planning. At this point they must invent avenues to influence investment priorities. In the context of bicycle infrastructure planning and delivery in Sydney, Australia this paper examines how strategic plans that embrace cycling as an important transport mode translate into decisions to commit to some projects over others. The paper explores four ways community groups seek traction in a highly contentious and transitional space of planning through a process we call ‘guerrilla governance’. Evoking aspects of advocacy and insurgent planning, guerrilla governance broadens how the term ‘governance’ is used within urban planning scholarship, by incorporating such ‘legitimised’ agitation from beyond government.