Sydney's urban consolidation experience: power, politics and community

17 Apr 2007

Urban consolidation has been the main planning policy in Sydney since the 1980s. ... For most of this period it has been locally unpopular. This paper overviews Sydney's urban consolidation policy evolution, and explores the way in which planning power, political power and market power have been used to make urban consolidation happen in the face of community opposition.

In this, the Sydney experience illustrates several wider planning perspectives, including the contrasting frames of planning doctrine on the one hand, and local anti-development activism on the other. The latter incorporates a complex set of underlying forces, including greater community concern about the environmental impacts of development, and the shift to a more a post-modern society in which the role of the state is less accepted (Filion 1996) and where there is greater consumption-based individualism (Donati 1997). This individualism includes the consumption of distinctive urban space as part of the ‘struggle for status achievement and maintenance’ (Donati 1997, p. 160) that generates anti-development pressures.

Related to this individualism is the emergence of a neo-liberal state ideology that reflects both the questioning of the role of the state, and intensified globalisation that engenders heightened inter-regional competition. This neo-liberalism preferences policies such as urban consolidation that purport to reduce state spending in some shape or form. These themes are taken up in full in the report.

Publication Details
Published year only: