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(Re)shaping the South Bank: the (post)politics of sustainable place-making

Street, E. (2011) (Re)shaping the South Bank: the (post)politics of sustainable place-making. PhD thesis, King's College London

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While the private sector has long been in the vanguard of shaping and managing urban environs, under the New Labour government business actors were also heralded as key agents in the delivery of sustainable places. Policy interventions, such as Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), saw business-led local partnerships positioned as key drivers in the production of economically, socially and environmentally sustainable urban communities. This research considers how one business-led body, South Bank Employer’s Group (SBEG), has inserted itself into, and influenced, local (re)development trajectories. Interview, observational and archival data are used to explore how, in a neighbourhood noted for its turbulent and conflictual development past, SBEG has led on a series of regeneration programmes that it asserts will create a “better South Bank for all”. A belief in consensual solutions underscored New Labour’s urban agenda and cast regeneration as a politically neutral process in which different stakeholders can reach mutually beneficial solutions (Southern, 2001). For authors such as Mouffe (2005), the search for consensus represents a move towards a ‘post-political’ approach to governing in which the (necessarily) antagonistic nature of the political is denied. The research utilises writings on the ‘post-political’ condition to frame an empirical exploration of regeneration at the neighbourhood level. It shows how SBEG has brokered a consensual vision of regeneration with the aim of overriding past disagreements about local development. While this may be seen as an attempt to enact what Honig (1993: 3) calls the ‘erasure of resistance from political orderings’ by assuming control of regeneration agendas (see also Baeten, 2009), the research shows that ‘resistances’ to SBEG’s activities continue to be expressed in a series of ways. These resistances suggest that, while increasingly ‘post-political’ in character, local place shaping continues to evidence what Massey (2005: 10) calls the ‘space of loose ends and missing links’ from which political activity can, at least potentially, emerge.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Imrie, R. and Raco, M.
Thesis/Report Department:Department of Geography
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Henley Business School > Real Estate and Planning
ID Code:38266
Publisher:King's College London

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