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.
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