‘It’s a Done Deal’: examining the intersection between the political and the postpolitical in transport planning — ASN Events

‘It’s a Done Deal’: examining the intersection between the political and the postpolitical in transport planning (16716)

Crystal Legacy 1
  1. RMIT University, Melbourne, VICTO, Australia

The aim of this paper is to examine how the ‘postconflict’ era in urban policy has shaped how communities respond to the inherently political aspects of setting transport investment priorities. The postpolitical disposition of urban governance arrangements in neo-liberal planning contexts supports consensus-based decision making (Allmendinger & Haughton, 2010; Swynedouw, 2007). However, where governments seek to depart from the consensus making process to assert their uni-directional decision making power to set investment priorities, the political in transport planning is ignited. Very recently, the prioritisation of a 4.5 kilometre cross-city tunnel in Melbourne, Australian was presented as a ‘done deal’ departing from consensus based processes established during the development of the city’s latest metropolitan strategy.  This paper draws on sixteen semi-structure interviews with community-based groups in opposition to the proposed cross-city tunnel project. The narratives are accompanied by an extensive media and public policy document analysis of urban transport planning discourse in the Australian State of Victoria between 2008 to 2014, as well as observations from a planning panel hearing which occurred in Melbourne in early 2014.  The Melbourne case illustrates how community-based groups and individual residents alike can evolve beyond NIMBY-focused agitation to garner a spatially dispersed re-politicisation of urban transport priorities.  Focusing specifically on the strategies to mobilise action and their impacts on urban governance, this paper shows that in the absence of transparent and inclusive engagement opportunities community-based groups engage in policy-savvy campaigns that problematise dominant transport policies in the state.  In engaging with the question of ‘priorities’, a deeply political question, the postpolitical literature insufficiently responds to the challenges created when consensus practices intersect with community deliberation and contestation.  Where community groups reassert the political in transport planning, I use this paper to argue that more research is needed to understand the intersections between the political and the post-political in urban contexts.  

  1. Allmendinger, P & Haughton, G 2010, 'Spatial planning, devolution, and new planning spaces', Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, vol. 28, pp. 803-18.
  2. Swyngedouw, E 2007, 'Impossible sustainability and the post-political condition', in R Krueger & D Gibbs (eds), The sustainable development paradox: urban political economy in the United States and Europe, The Guilford Press, New York, pp. 13-40.