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Governmental logics in commercialised planning practices: the case of Local Authority Pre-Application Negotiations in the English planning system

Parker, G. ORCID:, Dobson, M. ORCID: and Lynn, T. (2022) Governmental logics in commercialised planning practices: the case of Local Authority Pre-Application Negotiations in the English planning system. Planning Theory & Practice, 23 (1). pp. 60-80. ISSN 1464-9357

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/14649357.2021.2011388


This paper provides an empirical review of a widely used tool in the English planning system - pre-application discussions (‘pre-apps’) and a theoretical exposition of governmental ‘logics’ that underpin neoliberal-informed planning reforms. We present five logic frames of growth, efficiency, commercialisation, participation and quality, and apply these to pre-application negotiation practice, to highlight how Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) and public sector planners are faced with the challenge of reconciling a complex of multiple and often competing aims that appear irreconcilable in practice. We highlight that whilst ‘ordinary’ planning tools such as pre-apps may appear mundane, they can provide valuable instantiations where all the logics collide. The example of pre-application negotiations highlight how neoliberal logics of growth, efficiency and commercialisation often work to overshadow a range of more traditional planning concerns (including public participation and quality of development). Such framings also assist in evaluating why ongoing planning reforms create frustration when local outcomes do not line up with attempts to align planning to ideologically inspired logics set out nationally. We contend that such reform attempts, when based on ideological parameters alone, ignore the trade-offs that LPAs and planners have to make regarding such different (competing) goals, audiences and interests that operate within the planning system. Until governments accept the trade-offs that their political rationalities and reforms impose on planning systems, and the subsequent deficiencies of the specific policy tools that follow from them, these logics will continue to collide in practice; with the strongest for growth dominating others and local governments and public planners unable to resolve the tensions. This theory and practice framing highlights how neoliberal thought pervades the planning system and tools in England; and further research could examine and reflect on how these logics are operationalised and sustained across different policy contexts and planning spaces in order to deepen knowledge on how neoliberal planning agendas are shaped and promoted or challenged internationally.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Henley Business School > Real Estate and Planning
ID Code:101804


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