Conference paper

The influence of neoliberalism in the context of population decline: an analysis of planning strategies in Broken Hill, NSW

Neo-liberalism Cities and towns Population growth Urban planning Broken Hill
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Abstract: In countries throughout the developed world, including Australia, large cities are growing while hinterland communities (particularly the most remote communities) are shrinking. Uneven population distribution – caused, in part, by neoliberal government policy – is expected to continue. Unfortunately, planners in shrinking communities employ growth-oriented, neoliberal policies that have been found to be ineffective in addressing the effects of population decline. A growing number of “shrinking cities” researchers are calling for the adoption of so-called “decline-oriented” planning (which involves accepting future decline and actively planning for it) in shrinking communities. Using a mix of documents analysis, field observation and open-ended interviews with planners and local policy-makers, I use the case study of Broken Hill, NSW to determine how neoliberalism influences planning policy and to explore the scope for acceptance of a decline-oriented planning approach. Overall, my findings point to the importance of local context and history in influencing the “form” that neoliberal planning policy takes. My findings also highlight that there are challenges for local planners and policy-makers in actively planning for future decline – challenges which, if left unaddressed, will make dealing with the effects of future decline even more difficult.

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