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Timescapes, Power and Democracy
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A deep exploration on how questions of time and its organisation affect planning practice, this book is aimed at public and private planning practitioners, national and local politicians and policymakers involved in planning, academics and students studying planning and related disciplines.

It presents time as a pervasive form of power that is used to shape democratic practices, and questions ‘project speed’: where time to think, deliberate and plan has been squeezed. The authors demonstrate the many benefits of slow planning for the key participants, multiple interests and planning system overall.

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The chapter considers the role of time, public interest and deliberative democracy in relation to how planning inputs are organised and managed. In doing so, it considers the wider ‘public interest’ justification for planning to meet a range of present and future needs, and the role of democratic processes and deliberation as a means to enable ‘good’ planning. These are discussed in view of the implications of, and linkages with, time as a resource and the aims of planning, with consideration of the processes and tools available to foster proper time for planning. Care to sustain appropriate deliberative practices is linked to the act of planning itself as a participatory undertaking rather than an adjunct to public engagement, which is often offered under narrow terms and reflects attempts to orchestrate inputs. The challenges to enabling more deliberative approaches are considered in relation to critiques of (post-)democratic citizenship, competing values within increasingly pluralist societies and the unequal operation of power relations. Despite these issues, the case is made that enabling deliberation is an important component of good planning and should form a key part of the normative principles underpinning planning systems.

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The chapter highlights that neoliberal discourses have a particular prominence and influence on political and economic thought and policy in the UK. The thinking behind neoliberal policy places time firmly in view as something to be ‘managed’ in order for ‘efficiency’ to be assured and ‘delay’ minimised. This view stresses that business and service imperatives are promoted in governmental policy generally and through planning policy more specifically. The chapter presents a discussion of planning and the role of time in a neoliberalised policy environment, and outlines the idea of ‘project speed’, cited to focus attention on the political project of reforming planning in the English case. It shows that there have been concerted efforts to orient planning timescapes not necessarily in service of good planning or of supporting democratic accountability but instead to primarily achieve growth. We view the reforms promoted by waves of neoliberalisation and ‘project speed’ over a longer period as attempts to control the present and future. Both the use of political time to service these agendas and the wider temporal politics of growth are questioned as effective long-term strategies in aiding good processes and/or outcomes.

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This chapter provides a deep exposition of time and practice as conceptualised in the wider social sciences. It presents a review of how time has been theorised in social theory, drawing on key thinkers who emphasise the role of time in shaping social and institutional practices across capitalist economic systems, interpersonal power relations and political strategies. In considering this range, the chapter draws on a number of theorists’ work, notably, Pierre Bourdieu, Barbara Adam, Helga Nowotny and Nomi Lazar, whose ideas are presented as key in highlighting the operation of power, political strategy and the relationship of time to practice (and vice versa). This sets out a framework for analysis and provides both an insight and a guide to understanding the multiple temporalities of planning and how timescapes structure practice. By considering the use and organisation of time in organising how planning is practised and who is involved, the recognition that planning itself produces particular futures is brought into view. Key theoretical ideas are used specifically to examine, in later chapters, the way time is organised and deployed as a tool to exert control in the planning system in England.

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This final chapter summarises the main arguments of the book and argues for a more reflective planning and practice that takes time and its implications more seriously. It reflects on planning timescapes as oriented towards neoliberal speed-growth agendas, such as project speed, in order to assist in problematising existing approach(es) to planning. In doings so, the case is made that there is much more at stake than simply whether planning is ‘fast’ or ‘slow’; instead, far greater emphasis is required about what we are planning for and why. A reset of planning systems away from short-term political and business agendas and towards considering longer-term challenges requires a rethinking of normative principles and overall goals, as well as, it follows, a reshaping of the timescape(s) of planning in order to fashion proper time(s). This assemblage should feature the central tenets of inclusion, deliberation and public interest as design principles for planning systems, processes and practices. How time is conceptualised, challenged, managed and practised by different actors with a stake in planning and its outcomes appears critical to just, sustainable futures. It concludes by outlining a research agenda in which understandings of time in and for planning can be further developed to advance practice.

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This introductory chapter provides an initial grounding for the rationale, aims and scope of the book. It also indicates why this topic area should be embraced and absorbed in planning, and how this is useful for providing a deeper understanding of time in practice and the impact of time on practice. The consideration of time in relation to planning is an obvious one: planning is critically concerned with time as an activity in creating plans and policies for the present and future. Yet, beyond such seemingly self-evident claims and understandings of the importance of time, we need to consider the concept much more deeply to appreciate the profound role that time and ‘timescaping’ plays in structuring society, economies and politics, as well as for understanding how temporalisation shapes planning, which in turn shapes the experience of planning. In this respect, time has often been an obscure or uncritically accepted part of discourses shaping planning. This lays the foundations for exploring the contention that time, in its deployment both rhetorically and practically, can have profound impacts on both planning processes and outcomes.

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Knowledge, Care, Legitimacy
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The past three decades have seen an international ‘turn to participation’ – letting those who will be affected by neighbourhood planning outcomes play an active role in decision-making – but there is widespread dissatisfaction with actual instances of citizen-state engagement.

This innovative analysis brings theory, research and practice together and gives insights into how and why citizen voices either become effective or get excluded. Using ethnographic data to illustrate a wide range of participatory and localist governance practices and social movements, the book concludes with recommendations to re-invigorate community involvement in planning.

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This chapter addresses some of the neglected things in neighbourhood planning: the experiential knowledge and care for place that previous chapters have shown often get excluded. It begins by describing some of the attempts that neighbourhood planners made to engage with these knowledges and cares, and the difficulties they encountered in articulating, capturing and translating them into evidence. It draws on the concepts of matters of concern (Latour, 2004b) and matters of care (Puig de la Bellacasa, 2017) to develop a speculative reflection on ways in which these neglected things could more effectively be included. It reviews some examples of initiatives intended to incorporate such marginalised knowledges in planning and related processes, and considers how adapting a narrative approach to the production and presentation of evidence could facilitate this. It also considers the barriers and constraints to such innovation, and concludes that if it is to succeed on its own proclaimed terms, neighbourhood planning can and must do better at including the excluded things that matter to people.

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This chapter draws together the key themes from the previous chapters. It starts by summarising the arguments made throughout the course of the book. It then goes on to discuss the implications of that argument for the practice of, and research into, neighbourhood planning and participatory democracy more widely and the knowledge practices that they are based on. It explores how these findings can contribute to the Science and Technology Studies-inspired project of ‘re-making participation’ (Chilvers and Kearnes, 2016): making participatory democratic processes more transparent, accountable and responsive, by reconceiving how we understand the people, places and issues at stake.

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This chapter focuses on the production and use of evidence in neighbourhood planning, as one of the central knowledge practices through which the identities described in the previous chapter are enacted and come to dominate or be suppressed. It outlines the evidentiary requirements of neighbourhood planning in presenting local knowledge, and suggests why the kind of evidence produced to support a neighbourhood plan might be expected to be more expansive, inclusive and diverse than is traditional in planning. It documents two instances of evidence production, one from each case study, exploring how the neighbourhood planning groups interpreted what can count as evidence. It discusses the ways in which these enactments restrict the promised pluralisation of knowledge and ways of knowing in neighbourhood planning. It highlights conflicts between knowing localities as ‘abstract space’ and ‘lived place’. It concludes by reflecting on similarities and differences in the production and presentation of evidence in the other cases of participatory democracy considered.

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