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themed section: devolution and the geographies of policy. Guest edited by Ben Clifford and Janice Morphet
A policy on the move? Spatial planning and State Actors in the post-devolutionary UK and Ireland
Article first published online: 13 JAN 2014
© 2014 The Authors. The Geographical Journal published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers).
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.
The Geographical Journal
Volume 181, Issue 1, pages 16–25, March 2015
How to Cite
Clifford, B. and Morphet, J. (2015), A policy on the move? Spatial planning and State Actors in the post-devolutionary UK and Ireland. The Geographical Journal, 181: 16–25. doi: 10.1111/geoj.12064
- Issue published online: 5 FEB 2015
- Article first published online: 13 JAN 2014
- Manuscript Accepted: NOV 2013
- Planning Exchange Foundation
- United Kingdom;
- spatial planning;
- state personnel;
- British–Irish Council;
Devolution has led to a dramatic restructuring of the UK state over the last 15 years. Planning is a devolved function and a concerted process of ‘planning reform’ has been implemented by devolved (and central) government since devolution, including a move from ‘land-use’ to ‘spatial planning’. Despite some expectations of, and pressure for, policy divergence post devolution, we draw on findings of discourse analysis to demonstrate how there are common framings and understandings of the concept of ‘spatial planning’ present in the policy documents of all the UK administrations, and in Ireland. As such, we conceptualise spatial planning as what, after Peck and Theodore (2010, Geoforum 41 169–74), we might consider a ‘policy on the move’. Policy mobility is a fundamentally geographical phenomenon and its presence here raises questions about the mechanisms by which spatial planning has been mobilised. Drawing on interview data, we highlight the role of civil servants who meet through the British–Irish Council's workstream on spatial planning and a forum known as the ‘Five Administrations’ meetings. The relational connections between these state actors suggest that they are key ‘transfer agents’ and their role helps explain some of the path dependency in planning reform post devolution.