Australian Urban Planning: New Challenges, New Agendas

By Brendan Gleeson; Nicholas Low | Go to book overview
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Greening planning?
Environmental perspectives

In this chapter we consider environmentalism and its significance for planning. Like the radical cultural critiques discussed in chapter 7, environmentalism has sought to improve and reinterpret planning rather than diminish it in modern capitalist societies. Environmentalism has also enlarged the domain of urban governance, generally by giving rise to environmental policy and regulatory systems. Many green groups and commentators share with radical democrats an attachment to progressive human-centred values such as social justice, social inclusion and participatory democracy. The effects of both movements have been registered in a progression of reforms to planning legislation and practice in most Western countries since the early 1970s.

This chapter has three main sections. We begin by tracing the origins of environmental critique and its early links to urban planning, and show how the ‘green movement’—developing separately and gaining momentum from the late 1960s—mounted a substantial critique of technocratic and professionalised planning. We then show how environmentalists have sought to redirect planning towards new values: ecological sustainability, sustainable development and environmental justice. Finally we examine the relationship between environmentalism and planning in Australia. Whereas environmental planning has been widely accepted as the dominant paradigm of planning in Europe, it has far to go in Australia, although there are signs that some of its concepts are gradually being absorbed.


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