Australia: Reinvigorating planning and the planning system in Queensland - a neoliberal perspective - Part 2

Last Updated: 8 April 2012
Article by Ian Wright

This article concludes the discussion in our previous article Reinvigorating planning and the planning system in Queensland - a neoliberal perspective - Part 1.

Planning practice in a neoliberal state

Neoliberal planning practice

The broad neoliberal socioeconomic and political conditions and associated policy settings which are expected to develop under an LNP government will encourage the use of neoliberal planning theory and models that will have an increasing influence on planning practice.

The anticipated implications for planning practice of the increased use by planners of neoliberal planning theory and models are described in Table 6.

Table 6: Implications for planning practice of neoliberal planning theory and models

Generally speaking it is expected that the comprehensive master planning model (associated with modern planning theory) and collaborative planning model (associated with postmodern planning theory) will be curtailed as the strategic planning model (associated with neoliberal planning theory) is implemented in public policy and legislative reform.

Role of the planner

The anticipated emergence of neoliberal planning theory and its associated strategic planning model and consequential implications for planning practice will inevitably result in a re-evaluation of the role of planners.

The role of a planner under the physical planning, comprehensive master planning, collaborative planning and strategic planning models is described in Table 7.

Table 7: Planner's role under planning models

In a neoliberal environment it is expected that planners will be required to develop specialist knowledge and skills to manage the planning process to facilitate economic outcomes in preference to social and environmental outcomes.

This will require planners to gain greater financial acumen and act as urban entrepreneurs.

This will inevitably require the planner to adopt a hybrid role involving the following:

First, as a technician who seeks to be a value neutral adviser to decision makers; but

Secondly, and more significantly, as a politician who is a value committed activist who advocates economic growth.

It is this second political role that is likely to cause significant ethical dilemmas in the planning profession for the following reasons:

  • First, there is currently a strong professional and in some cases personal commitment, to sustainable development and its goal of balanced economic, social and environmental outcomes.
  • Second, to actively facilitate development could be seen to co-opt planning to the private sector which is only one of the sectorial interests involved in urban planning, and whose concern is profit.

Conclusions - Neoliberalism rules?

Planners play a critical role in influencing and sometimes preventing urban change through their work for the private, public and third sectors; which are the institutions responsible for urban change in our society.

The traditional modern and postmodern perspectives of planning that have underpinned the planners' use of planning theory and practice in Queensland are being challenged by an energised neoliberal perspective.

The neoliberal approach rejects planning's role as a tool to correct and avoid market failure and seeks to subsume planning as a minimalist form of spatial regulation to provide certainty to the market and facilitate economic growth.

Planners must understand that neoliberalism is but a process; it is not an end state of history or geography. The neoliberal project is neither universal, monolithic or inevitable; it is contestable (Peck and Tickell 2002:383).

Neoliberalism is simply the process of restructuring the relationships between the public, private and third sectors, to rationalise and promote a growth first approach to urban change.

As such, each planner must personally and professionally determine where they stand in relation to the restructuring of the institutions of urban change that is being heralded by the reform of planning and the planning system in Queensland.

Planners, if they are to avoid political irrelevancy, must take an active and positive part in the forthcoming contest of ideas.

Further reading

Abercrombie, P 1959, Town and Country Planning, Oxford University Press, London.

Allmendinger, P and Haughton, G 2012, 'Post-political spatial planning in England: A crisis of consensus?', Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, vol. 37, no. 1, pp89-103.

Alexander, E 1986, Approaches to Planning: Introducing Current Planning Theories, Concepts and Issues, Gordon and Breach, Langhorne.

Alexander, ER, Mazza, L and Moroni, S 2012, 'Planning without plans? Nomocracy or teleocracy for social-spatial ordering', Progress in Planning, vol. 77, pp37-87.

Arnstein, S 1969, 'A ladder of citizen participation', Journal of the American Institute of Planner, vol. 35, no. 4, pp216-224.

Balducci, A, Boelens, L, Hillier, J, Nyseth, T and Wilkinson, C 2011, 'Strategic spatial planning in uncertainty: Theory and exploratory practice', Town Planning Review, vol. 82, no. 5, pp483-501.

Calthorpe, P 1993, The Next American Metropolis, Princeton Architectural Press, New York.

Cook, N and Ruming, K 2008, 'On the fringe of neoliberalism: Residential development in our outer suburban Sydney', Australian Geographer, vol. 39, no. 2, pp211-228.

Clarke, G 1992, 'Towards appropriate forms of urban spatial planning', Habitat International, vol. 16, no. 2, pp149-165.

Davidoff, P 1965, 'Advocacy and pluralism in planning', Journal of the American Institute of Planners, vol. 31, no. 4, pp186-197.

Dowling, R and McGuirk, P 2009, 'Master-planned residential developments: Beyond iconic spaces of neoliberalism?', Asia Pacific Viewpoint, vol. 50, no. 2, pp120-134.

Eagle, SJ 2009, 'Reflections on private property, planning and state power', Planning and Environmental Law, vol. 61, no. 1, pp3-11.

Fainstein, S 2000, 'New directions in planning theory', Urban Affairs Review, vol. 35, pp451-478.

Faludi, A 1973, Planning Theory, Pergamon, Oxford.

Filion, P 1999, 'Rupture of continuity? Modern and postmodern planning in Toronto', International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, vol. 23, no. 3, pp421-444.

Filion, P 2001, 'The urban policy-making and development dimension of fordism and post-fordism: A Toronto case study', Space and Polity, vol. 5, no. 2, pp85-111.

Filion, P and Kramer, A 2011, 'Metropolitan-scale planning in neoliberal times: Financial and political obstacles to urban form transition', Space and Polity, vol. 15, no. 3, pp197-212.

Forester, J 1989, Planning in the Face of Power, University of California, Berkeley.

Forster, C 2006, 'The challenge of change: Australian cities and urban planning in the new millennium', Geographical Research, vol. 44, no. 2, pp173-182.

Friedmann, J 1987, Planning in the Public Domain from Knowledge to Action, Princeton University Press Princeton, New Jersey.

Friedmann, J 2008, 'The uses of planning theory: A bibliographic essay', Journal of Planning Education and Research, vol. 28, pp247-257.

Giddens, A 2000, The Third Way and its Critics, Polity Press, Cambridge.

Gleeson, B and Low, N 2000a, 'Revaluing planning rolling back neoliberalism in Australia', Progress in Planning, vol. 53, pp83-164.

Gleeson, B and Low, N 2000b, 'Unfinalised business: neoliberal planning reform in Australia', Urban Policy and Research, vol. 18, no. 1, pp7-28.

Goodchild, B 1990, 'Planning and the modern / postmodern debate', The Town Planning Review, vol. 61, no. 2, pp119-137.

Gunder, M 2010, 'Planning as the ideology of (neoliberal) space', Planning Theory, vol. 9, no. 4, pp298-314.

Habermas, J 1984, Theory of Communicative Action, Polity Press, London.

Haughton, G and McManus, P 2012, 'Neoliberal experiments with urban infrastructure: The cross city tunnel, Sydney', International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, vol. 36, no. 1, pp90-105.

Healey, P 1997, Collaborative Planning, University of British Columbia Press, Vancouver.

Healey, P 2007, Urban Complexity and Spatial Strategies: Towards a Relational Planning for Our Times, Routledge, London.

Hirt, S 2002, 'Postmodernism and planning models', Critical Planning, vol. 9, pp116-127.

Hirt, S 2005, 'Toward postmodern urbanism? Evolution of planning in Cleveland Ohio', Journal of Planning Education and Research, vol. 25, pp27-42.

Hirt, S 2009, 'Premodern, modern, postmodern? Placing new urbanism into a historical perspective', Journal of Planning History, vol. 8, no. 3, pp248-273.

Howard, E 1989, Garden Cities of Tomorrow, Faber and Faber, London, Reprinted 1946.

Jackson, J 2009, 'Neoliberal or third way? What planners from Glasgow, Melbourne and Toronto say', Urban Policy and Research, vol. 27, no. 4, pp397-417.

Jacobs, J 1961, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Rizzoli, New York.

Kaufman, JL and Jacobs, HM 2007, 'A public planning perspective on strategic planning', Journal of the American Planning Association, vol. 53, no. 1, pp23-33.

Keeble, LB 1969, Principles and Practice of Town and Country Planning, The Estates Gazette, London.

Kirkpatrick, O and Smith, M 2011, 'The infrastructure limits to growth: Rethinking the urban growth machine in times of fiscal crisis', International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, vol. 35, no. 3, pp477-503.

Lindblom, C 1959, 'The science of muddling through', Public Administration Review, vol. 19, pp78-88.

Lloyd, MG and Peel, D 2007, 'Neo-traditional planning. Towards a new ethos for land use planning?', Land Use Policy, vol. 24, no. 2, pp396-403.

Lloyd, MG and Peel, D 2007, 'Shaping and designing model policies for land use planning', Land Use Policy, vol. 24, no. 1, pp154-164.

Lynch, K 1960, The Image of the City, MIT Press, Cambridge Massachusetts.

Lynch, K 1981, A Theory of Good City Form, MIT Press, Cambridge Massachusetts.

McGuirk, P 2005, 'Neoliberalist planning? Re-thinking and re-casting Sydney's metropolitan planning', Geographical Research, vol. 43, no. 1, pp59-70.

McLoughlin, JB 1969, Urban and Regional Planning: A Systems Approach, Faber and Faber, London.

Milroy, B 1991, 'Into postmodern weightlessness', Journal Planning Education and Research, vol. 10, no. 3, pp181-187.

Minnery, J 2012, , 48th International Society of City and Regional Planners Congress, available at:

Moroni, S 2004, 'Towards a reconstruction of the public interest criterion', Planning Theory, vol. 3, no. 2, pp151-171.

Moroni, S 2007, 'Planning liberty and the rule of law', Planning Theory, vol. 6, no. 2, pp146-163.

Moroni, S 2010, 'Rethinking the theory and practice of land use regulations; Towards nomocracy', Planning Theory, vol. 9, no. 2, pp137-155.

Newman, P 2000, Promoting Sustainable Urban Change, Murdoch University,

Pallagst, K 2006, Growth Management in the San Francisco Bay Area: Interdependence of Theory and Practice, Institute of Urban and Regional Development, University of California, Berkeley.

Peck, J and Tickell, A 2002, 'Neoliberalizing space', Antipode, vol. 34, no. 3, pp380-404.

Roy, A 2008, 'Post-Liberalism: On the ethico-politics of planning', Planning Theory, vol. 7, no. 1, pp92 102.

Ruming, KJ 2005, 'Partnership, master planning and state provisions: A case study of 'actually existing neoliberalism' on the central coast of New South Wales', Geographical Research, vol. 43, no. 1, pp82 92.

Ruming, KJ 2009, 'The complexity of comprehensive planning partnerships: The case of the Warnervale town centre', Urban Policy and Research, vol. 27, no. 1, pp25-42.

Sager, T 2009, 'Responsibilities of theorists: The case of communicative planning theory', Progress in Planning, vol. 72, pp1-51.

Sager, T 2011, 'Neo-liberal urban planning policies: A literature survey 1990 - 2010', Progress in Planning, vol. 76, pp147-199.

Sharp, T 1940, Town Planning, Penguin, Harmondsworth.

Steel, W 2009, 'Australian urban planners: Hybrid roles and professional dilemmas', Urban Policy and Research, vol. 27, no. 2, pp189-203.

Taylor, N 1999, 'Anglo-American town planning theory since 1945: Three significant developments but no paradigm shifts', Planning Perspectives, vol. 14, no. 4, pp327-345.

Tochterman, B 2012, 'Theorizing neoliberal urban development', Radical History Review, vol. 112, pp65-87.

Triggs, HI 1909, Town Planning, Past, Present and Possible, Methuen and Company, London.

Tewdwr-Jones, M 2008, 'The complexity of planning reform: A search for the spirit and purpose of planning', The Town Planning Review, vol. 79, no. 6, pp673-688.

Unwin, R 1996, Town Planning in Practice: An Introduction to the Art of Designing Cities and Towns, 4th edn, Princeton Architectural Press, New York.

Wright, FL 1932, The Disappearing City, Payson, New York.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Ian Wright
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.