Place based and place paced public policy
Places shape people's life chances
There is a growing awareness, both in literature and of policy makers, that today’s major public policy challenges play out in local places:
- Geographers studying innovation in the knowledge based economy emphasise the importance of localised knowledge clusters for national economic success.
- Analysts of social inclusion describe the multiple barriers that people face living in ‘distressed neighbourhoods’.
- Rural areas and smaller centres face another set of risks, managing change with declining, and often ageing, populations.
Local geographic contexts - the form and nature of places - shape people’s life chances and policy designed in isolation from delivery can lead to ineffective outcomes.
Place-based policy development
Barca (2009) defines place based policy as:
- A long term development strategy aimed at reducing underutilisation of resources and social exclusion of specific places, through the production of integrated bundles of public goods and services.
- Determined by extracting and aggregating people’s knowledge and preferences in these places and turning them into projects.
- Exogenously promoted through a system of grants subject to conditions and multilevel governance.
The current Alice Springs Transformation Plan is an example of this place based policy approach in practice. The Australian and Northern Territory governments have targeted locally administered funds with a focus on housing regeneration and social support service provision.
Other examples of similar place based approaches are the Bonnyrigg Living Communities project in New South Wales and the Castle Vale regeneration project in Birmingham, England.
From government to governance
A characteristic of place based development is moving from a notion of government to governance processes that find ways to leverage diverse ideas, coordinate collective resources, and use new tools and techniques to inspire decision making.