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Planning in the Public Interest? Looking for the ‘public interest’ in English plan-making

Maidment, Christopher (2015) Planning in the Public Interest? Looking for the ‘public interest’ in English plan-making. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This thesis is about the public interest and how it is articulated in English plan-making practices. It is about recognising that the public interest can be conceptualised in multiple ways and exploring which of these conceptions are apparent in planning practices. The literature tells the story of a concept that is simultaneously a crucial justification for planning activities, and an empty signifier, following its disputed conceptual coherence and historic use. The thesis therefore develops an understanding of the different ways in which it has been conceptualised. The resulting conceptual framework draws together process and outcome focussed conceptions of the public interest and suggests that the use of scale, in terms of both time and geography, might help in differentiating their use. To understand how these different conceptions are influencing contemporary planning practices, qualitative methods are used to explore two cases that differ from the English tradition of making plans for a single local authority. The first is Central Lincolnshire, formed by merging the plan-making functions of three local authorities. The second case is the Peak District National Park, whose designation similarly gives the authority the power to plan for large parts of other local authorities within its boundary. However the cases contrast in their history; the Peak District was nationally designated, nearly seventy years ago, whilst Central Lincolnshire is a far more recent, locally driven construction. The cases suggest how national policy reduces the space for local deliberation about what is in the public interest, with a tendency for each case to be dominated by particular intended outcomes. However this story is told differently for each case, by virtue of the different scales at which each authority aims to have an impact. In turn this has significant implications for how planning theory and practice might account for the public interest.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield)
The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Urban Studies and Planning (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.680942
Depositing User: Christopher Maidment
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2016 12:16
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2016 13:09
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/12319

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