Post-political spatial planning in England: a crisis of consensus?



This paper argues that spatial planning in England needs to be analysed as a form of neoliberal spatial governance, underpinned by a variety of post-politics that has sought to replace antagonism and agonism with consensus. Conflict has not been removed from planning, but it is instead more carefully choreographed and in some cases displaced or otherwise residualised. This has been achieved through a variety of mechanisms including partnership-led governance arrangements and inclusive though vague objectives and nomenclature around sustainable growth. Other consequences include the emergence of soft space scales of planning often deploying fuzzy boundaries that blur more concrete policy implications and objectives. Opposition to this post-political form of planning has led to new avenues for dissent that challenge spatial planning and its consensual underpinnings, ironically paving the way for the radical ‘rollback’ planning reforms of the Coalition government.