Town Planning Review

The character of the Just City: the regulation of place distinctiveness and its unjust social effects

Town Planning Review (2017), 88, (3), 305–325.

Abstract

The concept of ‘character’ has gained considerable currency in city planning and design, with the impacts of proposed property developments on the character of established urban places now a common consideration in planning decision making. Drawing on the methods of critical discourse analysis, this paper problematises this trend through a case study of Melbourne, Australia. Three critiques of current approaches to the regulation of character in Melbourne are identified: an overemphasis on physical form and disregard for the perceptual and experiential dimensions of place, a failure to acknowledge insider perspectives on character, and the effects of character-based regulations in justifying inequitable and exclusionary planning outcomes. The difficulties associated with the use of character as a planning assessment criterion are then discussed. The paper concludes by arguing for approaches to the regulation of place distinctiveness that attend more fully to the social and experiential aspects of place.

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DAVISON, G., DOVEY, K. and WOODCOCK, I. (2012), ‘Keeping Dalston different: defending place-identity in East London’, Planning Theory & Practice, 13, 47–69. Keeping Dalston different: defending place-identity in East London Planning Theory & Practice 13 47 69 Google Scholar

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DOVEY, K. (2010), Becoming Places: Urbanism/Architecture/Identity/Power, London, Routledge. Becoming Places: Urbanism/Architecture/Identity/Power Google Scholar

DOVEY, K., WOODCOCK, I. and WOOD, S. (2009), ‘A test of character: regulating place-identity in inner-city Melbourne’, Urban Studies, 46, 2595–615. A test of character: regulating place-identity in inner-city Melbourne Urban Studies 46 2595 615 Google Scholar

DOVEY, K., WOODCOCK, I. and WOOD, S. (2010), ‘Slippery characters: defending and creating place identities’, in Dovey, 57–78. Slippery characters: defending and creating place identities 57 78 Google Scholar

FAINSTEIN, S. (2010), The Just City, Ithaca, Cornell University Press. The Just City Google Scholar

FAIRCLOUGH, N. (1995), Critical Discourse Analysis: The Critical Study of Language, New York, Longman. Critical Discourse Analysis: The Critical Study of Language Google Scholar

FAIRCLOUGH, N. (2003), Analysing Discourse: Textual Analysis for Social Research, London, Routledge. Analysing Discourse: Textual Analysis for Social Research Google Scholar

FAIRCLOUGH, N. and WODAK, R. (1997), ‘Critical discourse analysis: an overview’, in T. van Dijk (ed.), Discourse as Social Interaction, London, Sage, 258–84. Critical discourse analysis: an overview Discourse as Social Interaction 258 84 Google Scholar

FLYVBJERG, B. (2006), ‘Five misunderstandings about case-study research’, Qualitative Inquiry, 12, 219–45. Five misunderstandings about case-study research Qualitative Inquiry 12 219 45 Google Scholar

FORESTER, J. (1999), The Deliberative Practitioner: Encouraging Participatory Planning Processes, Cambridge, MA, MIT Press. The Deliberative Practitioner: Encouraging Participatory Planning Processes Google Scholar

GEHL, J. (2010), Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space, Washington, DC, Island Press. Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space Google Scholar

GIBSON, J. (1986), The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception, New York, Psychology Press. The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception Google Scholar

GREATER LONDON AUTHORITY (2014), Character and Context Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG), https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/planning/implementing-london-plan/supplementary-planning-guidance/character-and-context (accessed 25 April 2017). Google Scholar

HASTINGS, A. (1999), ‘Discourse and urban change: introduction to the special issue’, Urban Studies, 36, 7–12. Discourse and urban change: introduction to the special issue Urban Studies 36 7 12 Google Scholar

HASTINGS, A. (2000), ‘Discourse analysis: what does it offer housing studies?’, Housing, Theory and Society, 17, 131–39. Discourse analysis: what does it offer housing studies? Housing, Theory and Society 17 131 39 Google Scholar

HEALEY, P. (1997), Collaborative Planning: Shaping Places in Fragmented Societies, Basingstoke, Palgrave MacMillan. Collaborative Planning: Shaping Places in Fragmented Societies Google Scholar

JACOBS, J. (1961), The Death and Life of Great American Cities, New York, Random House. The Death and Life of Great American Cities Google Scholar

JACOBS, K. (2006), ‘Discourse analysis and its utility for urban policy research’, Urban Policy and Research, 24, 39–52. Discourse analysis and its utility for urban policy research Urban Policy and Research 24 39 52 Google Scholar

JIVÉN, G. and LARKHAM, P. (2003), ‘Sense of place, authenticity and character: a commentary’, Journal of Urban Design, 8, 67–81. Sense of place, authenticity and character: a commentary Journal of Urban Design 8 67 81 Google Scholar

KENDIG, L. (2010), Community Character: Principles for Design and Planning, Washington, DC, Island Press. Community Character: Principles for Design and Planning Google Scholar

KENDIG, L. (2012), A Guide to Planning for Community Character, Washington, DC, Island Press. A Guide to Planning for Community Character Google Scholar

KROPF, K. (1996), ‘Urban tissue and the character of towns’, Urban Design International, 1, 247–63. Urban tissue and the character of towns Urban Design International 1 247 63 Google Scholar

LANG, J. (1994), Urban Design: The American Experience, New York, Wiley & Sons. Urban Design: The American Experience Google Scholar

LARKHAM, P. (1996), Conservation and the City, London, Routledge. Conservation and the City Google Scholar

LARKHAM, P. and JONES, A. (1993), ‘The character of conservation areas in Great Britain’, Town Planning Review, 64, 395–413. The character of conservation areas in Great Britain Town Planning Review 64 395 413 Google Scholar

LEES, L. (2004), ‘Urban geography: discourse analysis and urban research’, Progress in Human Geography, 28, 101–7. Urban geography: discourse analysis and urban research Progress in Human Geography 28 101 7 Google Scholar

LEGACY, C. (2010), ‘Investigating the knowledge interface between stakeholder engagement and plan-making’, Environment and Planning A, 42, 2705–20. Investigating the knowledge interface between stakeholder engagement and plan-making Environment and Planning A 42 2705 20 Google Scholar

LEWIS, M. (1999), Suburban Backlash: The Battle for the World’s Most Liveable City, Hawthorn, Bloomings Books. Suburban Backlash: The Battle for the World’s Most Liveable City Google Scholar

MATTHEWS, P. and HASTINGS, A. (2013), ‘Middle-class political activism and middle-class advantage in relation to public services: a realist synthesis of the evidence base’, Social Policy & Administration, 47, 72–92. Middle-class political activism and middle-class advantage in relation to public services: a realist synthesis of the evidence base Social Policy & Administration 47 72 92 Google Scholar

NORBERG-SCHULZ, C. (1980), Genius Loci: Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture, New York: Rizzoli. Genius Loci: Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture Google Scholar

PAULSEN, K. (2004), ‘Making character concrete: empirical strategies for studying place distinction’, City & Community, 3, 243–62, doi: 10.1111/j.1535-6841.2004.00080.x. Making character concrete: empirical strategies for studying place distinction City & Community 3 243 62 Google Scholar

RAPOPORT, A. (1982), The Meaning of the Built Environment, Tuscon, University of Arizona Press. The Meaning of the Built Environment Google Scholar

RELPH, E. (1976), Place and Placelessness, London, Pion. Place and Placelessness Google Scholar

SANDERCOCK, L. (2003), Cosmopolis II: Mongrel Cities in the 21st Century, London, Continuum. Cosmopolis II: Mongrel Cities in the 21st Century Google Scholar

STEELE, F. (1981), The Sense of Place, Boston MA, CBI. The Sense of Place Google Scholar

STURZAKER, J. (2010), ‘The exercise of power to limit the development of new housing in the English countryside’, Environment and Planning A, 42, 1001–16. The exercise of power to limit the development of new housing in the English countryside Environment and Planning A 42 1001 16 Google Scholar

TALEN, E. (2008), Design for Diversity, Abingdon, Architectural Press. Design for Diversity Google Scholar

VAN DIJK, T. (1993), ‘Principles of critical discourse analysis’, Discourse & Society, 4, 249–83. Principles of critical discourse analysis Discourse & Society 4 249 83 Google Scholar

VAN DIJK, T. (1997), ‘The study of discourse’, in T. van Dijk (ed.), Discourse as Structure and Process, London, SAGE, 1–34. The study of discourse Discourse as Structure and Process 1 34 Google Scholar

VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT (2001a), ‘New housing code to protect our neighbourhoods’, http://archive.today/34Lg#selection-8.0-103.46, (accessed 14 May 2015). Google Scholar

VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT (2001b), ‘Understanding neighbourhood character’, https://www.planning.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0024/12786/PPN43-Understanding-Neighbourhood-Character_June-2015.pdf (accessed 25 April 2017). Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

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VICTORIAN PLANNING PROVISIONS (n.d.), ‘Planning schemes online’, http://planning-schemes.delwp.vic.gov.au/ (accessed 25 April 2017). Google Scholar

WHYTE, W. (1980), The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, Washington D.C., Conservation Foundation. The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces Google Scholar

WODAK, R. (2004), ‘Critical discourse analysis’, in C. Seale (ed.), Qualitative Research Practice, London, SAGE, 185–201. Critical discourse analysis Qualitative Research Practice 185 201 Google Scholar

YIFTACHEL, O. (1998), ‘Planning and social control: exploring the dark side’, Journal of Planning Literature, 12, 395–406. Planning and social control: exploring the dark side Journal of Planning Literature 12 395 406 Google Scholar

ABRAM, S., MURDOCH, J. and MARSDEN, T. (1996), ‘The social construction of “Middle England”: the politics of participation in forward planning’, Journal of Rural Studies, 12, 353–64. The social construction of “Middle England”: the politics of participation in forward planning Journal of Rural Studies 12 353 64 Google Scholar

ALEXANDER, C. (1979), The Timeless Way of Building, New York, Oxford University Press. The Timeless Way of Building Google Scholar

ALEXANDER, C., ISHIKAWA, S. and SILVERSTEIN, M. (1977), A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction, New York, Oxford University Press. A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction Google Scholar

ARNSTEIN, S. (1969), ‘A ladder of citizen participation’, Journal of the American Institute of Planners, 35, 216–24. doi: 10.1080/01944366908977225. A ladder of citizen participation Journal of the American Institute of Planners 35 216 24 Google Scholar

AUSTRALIAN BUREAU OF STATISTICS (ABS) (2011), Census of Population and Housing, http://www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/censushome.nsf/home/data?opendocument&navpos=200 (accessed 25 April 2017). Google Scholar

BANYULE CITY COUNCIL (2012), Neighbourhood Character Strategy, https://www.banyule.vic.gov.au/Services/Planning/Housing/Neighbourhood-Character (accessed 25 April 2017). Google Scholar

BARKER, R. (1968), Ecological Psychology, Stanford, Stanford University Press. Ecological Psychology Google Scholar

CITY OF BOROONDARA (2011), Boroondara Neighbourhood Character Study: Stage 1 Consultation Report. Google Scholar

CITY OF GREATER DANDENONG (2007), Neighbourhood Character Study, http://www.greater-dandenong.com/document/25295/dandenong-neighbourhood-character-study (accessed 25 April 2017). Google Scholar

CITY OF MOONEE VALLEY (2012), Neighbourhood Character Study, http://www.mvcc.vic.gov.au/planning-and-building/long-term-planning-in-moonee-valley/neighbourhood-character.aspx (accessed 25 April 2017). Google Scholar

CITY OF NEWYORK (2014), CEQR Technical Manual, http://www.nyc.gov/html/oec/downloads/pdf/2010_ceqr_tm/2010_ceqr_tm_ch21_neighborhood_character.pdf (accessed 25 April 2017). Google Scholar

CITY OF STONNINGTON (2013), Stonnington Neighbourhood Character Review, http://www. stonnington.vic.gov.au/Vision/Strategic-Planning/Structure-Plans-and-Urban-Frameworks/Neighbourhood-Character-Review-2013 (accessed 25 April 2017). Google Scholar

CITY OF VANCOUVER (1995), CityPlan: Directions for Vancouver, http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/planning/cityplan/Visions/index.htm (accessed 25 April 2017). Google Scholar

CLINGERMAYER, J. (2004), ‘Heresthetics and happenstance: intentional and unintentional exclusionary impacts of the zoning decision-making process,’ Urban Studies, 41, 377–88. Heresthetics and happenstance: intentional and unintentional exclusionary impacts of the zoning decision-making process Urban Studies 41 377 88 Google Scholar

COOPER, J. (2005), ‘Assessing urban character: the use of fractal analysis of street edges’, Urban Morphology, 9, 95–107. Assessing urban character: the use of fractal analysis of street edges Urban Morphology 9 95 107 Google Scholar

CULLEN, G. (1961), Townscape, London, Architectural Press. Townscape Google Scholar

DAVIDOFF, P. (1965), ‘Advocacy and pluralism in planning’, Journal of the American Institute of Planners, 31, 331–38. Advocacy and pluralism in planning Journal of the American Institute of Planners 31 331 38 Google Scholar

DAVISON, G. (2011), ‘An unlikely urban symbiosis: urban intensification and neighbourhood character in Collingwood, Vancouver’, Urban Policy and Research, 29, 105–24. An unlikely urban symbiosis: urban intensification and neighbourhood character in Collingwood, Vancouver Urban Policy and Research 29 105 24 Google Scholar

DAVISON, G., DOVEY, K. and WOODCOCK, I. (2012), ‘Keeping Dalston different: defending place-identity in East London’, Planning Theory & Practice, 13, 47–69. Keeping Dalston different: defending place-identity in East London Planning Theory & Practice 13 47 69 Google Scholar

DAVISON, G. and ROWDEN, E. (2012), ‘There’s something about Subi: defending and creating neighbourhood character in Perth, Australia’, Journal of Urban Design, 17, 189–212. There’s something about Subi: defending and creating neighbourhood character in Perth, Australia Journal of Urban Design 17 189 212 Google Scholar

DOVEY, K. (2010), Becoming Places: Urbanism/Architecture/Identity/Power, London, Routledge. Becoming Places: Urbanism/Architecture/Identity/Power Google Scholar

DOVEY, K., WOODCOCK, I. and WOOD, S. (2009), ‘A test of character: regulating place-identity in inner-city Melbourne’, Urban Studies, 46, 2595–615. A test of character: regulating place-identity in inner-city Melbourne Urban Studies 46 2595 615 Google Scholar

DOVEY, K., WOODCOCK, I. and WOOD, S. (2010), ‘Slippery characters: defending and creating place identities’, in Dovey, 57–78. Slippery characters: defending and creating place identities 57 78 Google Scholar

FAINSTEIN, S. (2010), The Just City, Ithaca, Cornell University Press. The Just City Google Scholar

FAIRCLOUGH, N. (1995), Critical Discourse Analysis: The Critical Study of Language, New York, Longman. Critical Discourse Analysis: The Critical Study of Language Google Scholar

FAIRCLOUGH, N. (2003), Analysing Discourse: Textual Analysis for Social Research, London, Routledge. Analysing Discourse: Textual Analysis for Social Research Google Scholar

FAIRCLOUGH, N. and WODAK, R. (1997), ‘Critical discourse analysis: an overview’, in T. van Dijk (ed.), Discourse as Social Interaction, London, Sage, 258–84. Critical discourse analysis: an overview Discourse as Social Interaction 258 84 Google Scholar

FLYVBJERG, B. (2006), ‘Five misunderstandings about case-study research’, Qualitative Inquiry, 12, 219–45. Five misunderstandings about case-study research Qualitative Inquiry 12 219 45 Google Scholar

FORESTER, J. (1999), The Deliberative Practitioner: Encouraging Participatory Planning Processes, Cambridge, MA, MIT Press. The Deliberative Practitioner: Encouraging Participatory Planning Processes Google Scholar

GEHL, J. (2010), Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space, Washington, DC, Island Press. Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space Google Scholar

GIBSON, J. (1986), The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception, New York, Psychology Press. The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception Google Scholar

GREATER LONDON AUTHORITY (2014), Character and Context Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG), https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/planning/implementing-london-plan/supplementary-planning-guidance/character-and-context (accessed 25 April 2017). Google Scholar

HASTINGS, A. (1999), ‘Discourse and urban change: introduction to the special issue’, Urban Studies, 36, 7–12. Discourse and urban change: introduction to the special issue Urban Studies 36 7 12 Google Scholar

HASTINGS, A. (2000), ‘Discourse analysis: what does it offer housing studies?’, Housing, Theory and Society, 17, 131–39. Discourse analysis: what does it offer housing studies? Housing, Theory and Society 17 131 39 Google Scholar

HEALEY, P. (1997), Collaborative Planning: Shaping Places in Fragmented Societies, Basingstoke, Palgrave MacMillan. Collaborative Planning: Shaping Places in Fragmented Societies Google Scholar

JACOBS, J. (1961), The Death and Life of Great American Cities, New York, Random House. The Death and Life of Great American Cities Google Scholar

JACOBS, K. (2006), ‘Discourse analysis and its utility for urban policy research’, Urban Policy and Research, 24, 39–52. Discourse analysis and its utility for urban policy research Urban Policy and Research 24 39 52 Google Scholar

JIVÉN, G. and LARKHAM, P. (2003), ‘Sense of place, authenticity and character: a commentary’, Journal of Urban Design, 8, 67–81. Sense of place, authenticity and character: a commentary Journal of Urban Design 8 67 81 Google Scholar

KENDIG, L. (2010), Community Character: Principles for Design and Planning, Washington, DC, Island Press. Community Character: Principles for Design and Planning Google Scholar

KENDIG, L. (2012), A Guide to Planning for Community Character, Washington, DC, Island Press. A Guide to Planning for Community Character Google Scholar

KROPF, K. (1996), ‘Urban tissue and the character of towns’, Urban Design International, 1, 247–63. Urban tissue and the character of towns Urban Design International 1 247 63 Google Scholar

LANG, J. (1994), Urban Design: The American Experience, New York, Wiley & Sons. Urban Design: The American Experience Google Scholar

LARKHAM, P. (1996), Conservation and the City, London, Routledge. Conservation and the City Google Scholar

LARKHAM, P. and JONES, A. (1993), ‘The character of conservation areas in Great Britain’, Town Planning Review, 64, 395–413. The character of conservation areas in Great Britain Town Planning Review 64 395 413 Google Scholar

LEES, L. (2004), ‘Urban geography: discourse analysis and urban research’, Progress in Human Geography, 28, 101–7. Urban geography: discourse analysis and urban research Progress in Human Geography 28 101 7 Google Scholar

LEGACY, C. (2010), ‘Investigating the knowledge interface between stakeholder engagement and plan-making’, Environment and Planning A, 42, 2705–20. Investigating the knowledge interface between stakeholder engagement and plan-making Environment and Planning A 42 2705 20 Google Scholar

LEWIS, M. (1999), Suburban Backlash: The Battle for the World’s Most Liveable City, Hawthorn, Bloomings Books. Suburban Backlash: The Battle for the World’s Most Liveable City Google Scholar

MATTHEWS, P. and HASTINGS, A. (2013), ‘Middle-class political activism and middle-class advantage in relation to public services: a realist synthesis of the evidence base’, Social Policy & Administration, 47, 72–92. Middle-class political activism and middle-class advantage in relation to public services: a realist synthesis of the evidence base Social Policy & Administration 47 72 92 Google Scholar

NORBERG-SCHULZ, C. (1980), Genius Loci: Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture, New York: Rizzoli. Genius Loci: Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture Google Scholar

PAULSEN, K. (2004), ‘Making character concrete: empirical strategies for studying place distinction’, City & Community, 3, 243–62, doi: 10.1111/j.1535-6841.2004.00080.x. Making character concrete: empirical strategies for studying place distinction City & Community 3 243 62 Google Scholar

RAPOPORT, A. (1982), The Meaning of the Built Environment, Tuscon, University of Arizona Press. The Meaning of the Built Environment Google Scholar

RELPH, E. (1976), Place and Placelessness, London, Pion. Place and Placelessness Google Scholar

SANDERCOCK, L. (2003), Cosmopolis II: Mongrel Cities in the 21st Century, London, Continuum. Cosmopolis II: Mongrel Cities in the 21st Century Google Scholar

STEELE, F. (1981), The Sense of Place, Boston MA, CBI. The Sense of Place Google Scholar

STURZAKER, J. (2010), ‘The exercise of power to limit the development of new housing in the English countryside’, Environment and Planning A, 42, 1001–16. The exercise of power to limit the development of new housing in the English countryside Environment and Planning A 42 1001 16 Google Scholar

TALEN, E. (2008), Design for Diversity, Abingdon, Architectural Press. Design for Diversity Google Scholar

VAN DIJK, T. (1993), ‘Principles of critical discourse analysis’, Discourse & Society, 4, 249–83. Principles of critical discourse analysis Discourse & Society 4 249 83 Google Scholar

VAN DIJK, T. (1997), ‘The study of discourse’, in T. van Dijk (ed.), Discourse as Structure and Process, London, SAGE, 1–34. The study of discourse Discourse as Structure and Process 1 34 Google Scholar

VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT (2001a), ‘New housing code to protect our neighbourhoods’, http://archive.today/34Lg#selection-8.0-103.46, (accessed 14 May 2015). Google Scholar

VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT (2001b), ‘Understanding neighbourhood character’, https://www.planning.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0024/12786/PPN43-Understanding-Neighbourhood-Character_June-2015.pdf (accessed 25 April 2017). Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT (2004), ‘Using the neighbourhood character provisions in planning schemes’, https://www.planning.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/12760/PPN28-Using-the-neighbourhood-character-provisions.pdf (accessed 25 April 2017). Google Scholar

VICTORIAN PLANNING PROVISIONS (n.d.), ‘Planning schemes online’, http://planning-schemes.delwp.vic.gov.au/ (accessed 25 April 2017). Google Scholar

WHYTE, W. (1980), The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, Washington D.C., Conservation Foundation. The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces Google Scholar

WODAK, R. (2004), ‘Critical discourse analysis’, in C. Seale (ed.), Qualitative Research Practice, London, SAGE, 185–201. Critical discourse analysis Qualitative Research Practice 185 201 Google Scholar

YIFTACHEL, O. (1998), ‘Planning and social control: exploring the dark side’, Journal of Planning Literature, 12, 395–406. Planning and social control: exploring the dark side Journal of Planning Literature 12 395 406 Google Scholar

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Davison, Gethin

Davison, Gethin