Journal Article

Framing People and Planning: 50 years of debate


The last 50 years have not only seen major changes in the forms and practices of participation but also in the ways in which it has been characterized and understood. Alongside the report of the Skeffington Committee on public participation in planning, 1969 saw the publication of Sherry Arnstein's 'ladder of participation' which famously typified participation from tokenism to citizen control. Since then the ladder has been replaced by the networks of collaborative planning and both have been challenged by the focus on planning's 'dark side' where participation is associated with coercive forms of governmentality and governance through community. This article discusses the evolution of these ideas, not to provide a historiography per se, but to highlight the themes, issues and contradictions they suggest lie behind participation. These include debates about the extent to which power can ever be devolved to the people; clashes between the different modes of governance inherent in planning (representative, legal/bureaucratic, participatory); the significance of action outside the formal participation apparatus (insurgent planning); and the ways in which the publics of planning have been made and remade within different planning regimes, often with profound implications for the inclusion and exclusion of different social groups and concerns. The article concludes that as a result public participation in planning can be seen as a shifting terrain of underlying tensions and contradictions, which presents both openings and closures for citizens seeking to influence the use and development of land.

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Brownill, Sue
Inch, Andy

Oxford Brookes departments

Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment\School of the Built Environment


Year of publication: 2019
Date of RADAR deposit: 2019-04-30

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