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Contestation and conservatism in neighbourhood planning in England. Reconciling agonism and collaboration?

Parker, G. ORCID:, Lynn, T. and Wargent, M. ORCID: (2017) Contestation and conservatism in neighbourhood planning in England. Reconciling agonism and collaboration? Planning Theory and Practice, 18 (3). pp. 446-465. ISSN 1464-9357

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/14649357.2017.1316514


Neighbourhood planning was formally enabled as a statutory part of the English planning system under the Localism Act 2011. This element of formal planning has generated significant interest as it actively requires local communities to lead on producing a Plan and is widely recognised as formalising a co-produced planning. The paper reflects on research undertaken with a sample of neighbourhoods active in producing a neighbourhood plan and develops a critical discussion about the experience of those participants. The findings highlight that existing power relations, priorities nationally, the framing of neighbourhood planning regulations, local political tensions and local resource constraints affect the emerging practices of neighbourhood planners in England. Many groups have adopted conservative positions or are finding their Plans are being limited by consultants, local authorities or examiners, often concerned with how the Plans will fare in the contested environment of planning and development in neo-liberal times. While some have contended that neighbourhood planning can form part of a progressive localism and there is some hope for such participatory spaces, our view is that innovation is being constrained if not entirely suppressed. We conclude that reform to neighbourhood planning is needed if it is to realise the ambitions of inclusive, empowered and responsible planning at the very local scale.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Henley Business School > Real Estate and Planning
ID Code:69484
Publisher:Taylor and Francis


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