‘Fantasies of Consensus:’ Planning Reform in Sydney, 2005–2013

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Planning Practice and Research, 2015, 30 (2), pp. 115 - 138
Issue Date:
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© 2014 Taylor & Francis. This paper examines the battle to reform and streamline the planning system in Sydney, Australia, between 2005 and 2013. It analyses the strategies the State of NSW has pursued to manage ongoing conflicts over development, and reflects on the challenges the State has encountered in its attempt to redefine democratic engagement, justify decisions, claim legitimacy and forge a consensus around a more pro-development planning system. While New South Wales’ planning reform strategies have pursued an apparently ‘post-political’ agenda (Swyngedouw, Apocalypse forever? Post-political populism and the spectre of climate change, Theory Culture and Society, 27(2–3):213–232, 2010), using policy solutions to depoliticize difficult decisions, the reform process has exacerbated rather than defused conflicts. The story raises questions about the extent to which the new governing strategies of a post-political era can offer effective forums to forge consensus, or to stage-manage agreement over metropolitan development conflicts.
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