‘The planners’ dream goes wrong?’ Questioning citizen-centred planning

Alex Lord, Michael Mair, John Sturzaker, Paul Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
37 Downloads (Pure)


The reform of urban and environmental planning in England since the election of the Coalition government in 2010 has resulted in the emergence of Neighbourhood Planning: a situation in which citizens can autonomously assemble, define the spatial extent of their neighbourhood and author a plan for it. In this paper, we argue that this radical policy is part of a wider agenda to de-professionalise planning as a statutory function and has its roots in an odd assemblage of classical right-wing political thinking and the prescriptions of post-positivist planning theory. This uneasy conceptual relationship reveals a wider inconsistency between the policy in rhetorical form and its practical implementation. Drawing on primary research from England’s North-West and a thorough review of literature, we hope to show that the dream of citizen-centred planning masks deep tensions within the activity of urban and environmental management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-363
Number of pages20
JournalLocal Government Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • citizen participation
  • Localism
  • Neighbourhood Planning
  • post-political theory
  • post-positivist planning theory


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