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The Politics of Scale and Network Building in Spatial Planning: Bridging Community Ambition to Strategic Priority in Southern England

  • Start date: 01 July 2009
  • End date: 30 June 2010


Planning and local government reform expresses an ambition to move from public-realm planning and 'government' to private-realm action and 'governance'.  Recently, 'spatial planning' - a process facilitated by public bodies, but built on community initiative and collaboration with non-public partners - has been viewed as a means of delivering against this agenda.



Community-led planning - a process and product of private-realm action - is government's inroad into a world of local ambition and also a point of renewal for local democracy.  But does it play an effective role in the spatial planning process, empowering communities and ensuring that local ambition finds a place in policy-making?



How connections are made between planning's different levels and whether communities wield effective influence within the reformed planning system are the key questions of this project.  Of equal concern is how this influence is built and channelled through networks, and whether these provide a means of effective bridging between very-local actions and strategic decisions.



The research explores these questions in the Ashford Growth Area.  Taking a cluster of parishes, subject to development pressure, it explores how – and to what extent - very-local agendas are carried forward into planning frameworks and strategies.