Localism in action: post-political neighbourhood planning

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The paper presents emerging primary research, in the form of two ‘inner-urban’ case studies, which investigates what Localism in the United Kingdom - specifically Neighbourhood Planning - means for processes of planning within an English northern city. That is to say, it discusses Localism’s impact(s) upon the process and content of plan making within a post-political perspective. In England, Neighbourhood Planning is grounded in the localist narrative of the United Kingdom Coalition Government to ‘devolve power to communities’. Neighbourhood Plans represent a way in which people may be included in the planning system and participate in decision-making by allowing the creation of a statutory document of the local plan. However, it has been argued that planning has been underpinned by a form of post-politics, with outcomes that are often constructed on vague governance objectives, normatively ‘sustainability’ and ‘growth’. This has been most notable in the ‘spatial planning’ approach of New Labour, which attempted to speed-up the planning system through achieving a meaningful consensus in development decision-making. In seeking to achieve this consensus, it has been argued that conflict and dissent have been marginalised and carefully managed within a variety of styles and scales of planning. The crux of the argument is as follows. Whilst on the face of it, ‘spatial planning’ within political narrative appears to have vanished, to be replaced by processes of Localism, spatial planning doctrine as mind-set and professional practice still remains.
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