Conference Tracks

Curating the City
Chair: Neil Galway

This track will explore how heritage is at the core of contemporary urban dynamics and urban conflicts. Urban heritage meets us in different shapes and contexts: in strategic branding and marketing of places and sites, whole quarters and areas, individual buildings or archaeological sites. As heritage is a present-orientated, multifaceted and elusive means of processing the past, it is almost inevitable that the values associated with sites will alter according to their social context. This track aims to explore how planners and heritage professionals curate the city through their decisions on what districts, buildings or sites are promoted, conserved, neglected or erased. It will consider how changes to our historic urban environments impact upon the memories and identities of ‘heritage communities’ in plural and contested societies.

Public Space and the City
Chairs: Urmi Sengupta and Kirsten Hackenbroch, Universität Freiburg

Public spaces play a vital role in the political, economic and socio-cultural transformation of cities. Increasingly plurality in our cities has meant that new definitions, purpose and perceptions of public spaces emerge and are contested in everyday practices. The competing interests manifesting in privatization of public spaces, informal and temporal use of spaces for commercial purposes, and the emergence of new actors have meant that new boundaries are continuously formed and negotiated between people, institutions and the state. The session calls for papers that capture the various dimensions of public space. This includes its positioning and influence on the multi-scalar urbanism that comprises a number of distinct but the connected network of actors, institutions and claims demonstrating complex power relations, narratives of resistance, and civic movements.

Environmental planning, climate change and natural resource management
Chair: Wesley Flannery

Planners are key to mediating the relationship between environmental and social systems. Planners are tasked with advancing sustainable development, limiting human impact on the environment and facilitating the wise use of limited resources. Planners are also assigned with reducing human exposure to environmental risks and hazards.  This track will explore the role of planners in the nexus between social and environmental systems. The track welcomes papers on, but not limited to: sustainable use of natural resources; flood risk management; coastal and marine planning; ecosystem-based management; climate change mitigation and adaptation; environmental conservation; citizen science; and natural resource extraction.

Culture, economy and society
Chair: Phil Boland

Papers are invited for this track for researchers interested in the cultural dimension of planning. In recent years culture has assumed increasing significance in the planning of the contemporary city, most prominently through cultural economies, cultural/creative industries, cultural events and cultural quarters. In this context, culture is seem to possess curative and transformatory powers in seeking to ameliorate some of the most pressing social, economic and now political problems that affect our cities. However, the evidence of transformation is patchy, contradictory and sometimes highly questionable. Given this, the intention of this session is to unpack, explore and problematise the centrality and prioritisation of culture in contemporary city planning, and also to tease out new and exciting avenues for future research. We invite speakers who are interested in these issues.

Contemporary theoretical perspectives in planning
Chair: Linda Fox Rogers

This track will highlight the diverse and often competing theoretical perspectives that are being employed within the planning discipline to analyse its normative and substantive dimensions. Papers offering fresh theoretical insights that enhance our understanding of the realities of planning practice are particularly welcome.

Ageing/well-being
Chair: Aileen Stockdale

The link between planning and health and wellbeing has long been acknowledged. The origins of modern planning date from the 19th century and sought to address the squalor of city living.  Contemporary health issues include obesity, mental health illness, an ageing population, and health inequalities.  While personal lifestyle choices affect our health and wellbeing, the natural and built environments are viewed as major determinants: the physical nature of places and the social environment of communities have an impact on our health and wellbeing. This track invites papers on any aspect of planning for community health and wellbeing.

Planning practice and procedure
Chair: Stephen McKay

On April 1st 2015 many planning powers were passed from central to local government in Northern Ireland. As this new paradigm for planning practice evolves it is apparent that, whilst it represents a reduction in the democratic deficit with greater levels of community engagement, there are parallel problems as the new development planning and management systems bed in. This track invites papers from academics and practitioners who can contribute to a deeper understanding of planning processes, not only with regard to the Northern Ireland planning system, but also within other jurisdictions, with a view to sharing knowledge which can inform operational practice and procedure at local, national and international levels.  

Housing and Planning
Chair: John McPeake

That the right to decent affordable housing is included in Article 25 of the United Nations Declaration seems to secure housing’s place in the hierarchy of basic needs. But there are still big questions even in developed economies such as the United Kingdom and Ireland; to list but a few - how much housing is needed, what type, form and tenure should it take, where should it be built, how should it be built, how can it be funded, and how can we ensure its affordability? The focus on supply is understandable, reflecting as it does wider concerns over housing need and housing demand, and how these factors vary over time and space. But what role does, could and should planning play in helping to regulate the operation of markets? And do such interventions work? This track invites papers on the following themes: Housing supply and the role of planning in regulating markets; Capturing land value through planning to increase housing supply; Housing affordability; How best to provide mixed tenure housing; The type, form and tenure of future housing provision; and The community benefits of housing investment, including social value impact assessment.

Planning Education
Chair: Linda Price

As education budgets are squeezed and ever-more importance is attributed to module evaluations in promotion and marketing this stream provides a space to raise questions, present innovative ideas on teaching and assessment and place issues within wider pedagogical theoretical approaches.  For example, papers may focus on but not be limited to:  new insights into student learning styles, alignment of learning outcomes and innovative teaching methods, the challenges and opportunities of accredited courses; examples of small group/large group teaching methods; building in employability skills and expertise in courses and considering any tensions that arise between academics/practitioners; building in discussion of sensitive topics to teaching practice.  Given the rationalization of many University courses and planning as a joint, or part of a wider degree, papers on this topic would be particularly welcome.