Conference paper

There will always be 'winners' and 'losers': understanding perceptions of procedural justice in a contested planning landscape

Public consultation Procedural justice Regional planning Urban planning Australia
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Abstract: Planning decisions often involve a range of stakeholders, each committed to ensuring their needs are recognised by other stakeholder groups. Considering this, questions of what is ‘ethical’ or the ‘best’ process for a decision is debated considerably within academic literature. These debates can be explored through the concept of ‘justice’ or what is fair in decision-making processes. Ultimately, the interpretation of ‘justice’ is very subjective and contestation between affected parties is probable, if not inevitable. This paper investigates the understanding and value of justice, specifically ‘procedural justice’ and its practical application within planning decisions. Procedural justice relates to the processes and administrative procedures relating to obtaining fair planning decisions.

Presenting a case study of South Australia’s Mount Barker Development Plan Amendment rezoning process in 2010, this paper teases out how stakeholders view ‘procedural justice’ within this highly contentious planning decision. This concept relates to and questions processes undertaken during major planning decisions, raising questions regarding ethical behaviour, politics and potential conflicts of interest. The case study of Mount Barker is an apt case study for exploring how issues of justice interrelate with a range of broader planning and sociological concepts. These include governance, politics and power. The findings demonstrate that justice is viewed in a variety of ways and that individuals stakeholders have differing and often conflicting visions for planning decisions, such as Mount Barker. This essentially sees justice as an ‘abstract noun’, or a seemingly elusive quality in an applied discipline

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