Research Theme: Cities, Communities and Contested Urbanism
Supervisors: Prof. Geraint Ellis (g.ellis@qub.ac.uk) and Prof John Barry (j.barry@qub.ac.uk) School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics

The UK planning system has been in a constant cycle of reform and ‘innovation’ since at least the late 1990s. This has produced new discourses around ‘development’ and introduced new practices for regulating land use. A dominant theme has been one of ‘streamlining’ that prioritises speed of decision-making and aligns regulatory approaches with market-supportive outcomes. Although this has been framed in terms of ‘innovation’, it has inevitably also involved ‘exnovation’; the process where practices are curtailed and discontinued. In the planning system, examples of exnovation have been dispensing with previous (’bureaucratic’) forms of plan-making, reducing participative opportunities and even abolishing institutions (for example the Sustainable Development Commission, Royal Commission for Environmental Pollution). While there has been an emphasis by government and academics to evaluate the impact of ‘innovation’ in planning governance, there has been virtually no appreciation of the costs and impacts of ‘exnovation’. In other words, have these changes inevitably been a good thing? What are the costs of a culture of continual ‘innovation’ and what types of benefits may be lost through ‘exnovation’? Innovation and can we develop a conceptual framework through which learning from both innovation Is it possible to develop a more reflexive form of planning governance? It is anticipated that this PhD will be undertaken through a series of case studies to evaluate the role of exnovation in planning and a develop a conceptual framework of innovation-exnovation processes in planning governance.

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