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The collaborating planner?Practitioners in the neoliberal age$
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Ben Clifford and Mark Tewdwr-Jones

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781447305118

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447305118.001.0001

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Participation: planners and their ‘customers’

Participation: planners and their ‘customers’

(p.149) Six Participation: planners and their ‘customers’
The collaborating planner?

Ben Clifford

Mark Tewdwr-Jones

Policy Press

This chapter looks at how planners are reacting to the emphasis on public participation and the rise of a ‘consumerist’ approach in the planning reform agenda. This data leads to discussion of the tensions between the participation and other planning reform agenda, of the arguments planners find in favour of participation and of the many difficulties it presents for local authority planners in practice. The ways in which planners have responded to the growth of the concept of the ‘customer’ across the public sector since the 1990s is also discussed. Data show a somewhat lukewarm reception to the concept. Planners seem to define ‘the customer’ as anyone coming into contact with the planning service, and certainly not just paying applicants. There is a widespread perception of a need for professional planners to balance the competing interests of different ‘customers’. Such perceptions arguably render the customer ideal meaningless. Overall, the chapter concludes that planners are broadly supportive of participation, so long as they are able to manage it, and that the government continues to expect them to play that role.

Keywords:   Public participation, Customers, Planning, New Public Management, Professionalism, Great Britain

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