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On this page, you can find my research papers presented to academic conferences.


A passion for place: neighbourhood planning and community attitudes to house-building

Paper presented to AMPs (Architecture, Media Politics Society) conference, Government and Housing in a Time of Crisis: Policy, Planning, Design and Delivery, Liverpool John Moores University 8-9 September 2016

This paper is concerned with the impact of social constructions of place and community identity on plans for house-building. It discusses the policy of neighbourhood planning in England in which statutory powers were devolved to place-based communities in exchange for their support for housing growth. Originating the analytical concept of place identity frames, the paper explores how attachments to place were scripted into planning policy by neighbourhood plans to regulate the size, location and delivery of house-building.  The paper argues that analysis of neighbourhood plans can provide a significant insight into the role of place attachment in winning community support for new housing supply.NeighbourhoodPlanning&PlaceIdentity_maintext_v1


The patchwork politics of Sustainable Communities

Paper presented to the International SEEDS conference, 17-18 September 2015, Leeds Beckett University.


The aim of this paper is to review government strategies for sustainable communities in England and particularly the programme of neighbourhood planning introduced from 2011 in which responsibility for achieving sustainable development was devolved to local communities. It explores the definition of sustainability that emerged from these neighbourhood plans, one in which the priorities of environmental quality and the welfare needs of social reproduction were constrained through a choice of economic growth or self-reliance. The paper reports on research with urban and rural communities seeking sustainability through neighbourhood planning and it reveals the starkly unequal geography of sustainable development that is emerging. The paper concludes that hopes of sustainability in England are now heavily dependent on the geographical whims of the property market. Sustainable Communities_SEEDS conference paper


The political boundaries of neighbourhood planning in England

Paper presented the ENHR 2014 Conference ‘Beyond Globalisation’ in Edinburgh 1 – 4 July and to the RGS-IBG International Conference, London 26 to 29 August  2014


The rise of neighbourhood planning has been characterised as another step in a remorseless de-politicisation of the public sphere associated with strategies of localism. A policy initiated by the Coalition Government in England to create the conditions under which local communities support housing growth, neighbourhood planning appears to evidence a continuing retreat from politics and antagonism. The requirement on neighbourhood plans to embrace the demands of the market excludes from discussion all issues of contention while the boundaries of neighbourhoods are all determined by the centralist State. The existence of these ‘boundary conditions’ for neighbourhood planning should, however, point to the intrinsic potential for political antagonism in the neighbourhood planning process. Drawing on the theories of Chantal Mouffe this paper charts the development of the collective identities that result from these boundary lines and argues for the potential for neighbourhood planning to restore political conflict to the politics of housing development. Political boundaries of Neighbourhood planning

Universal Claims: tenants’ campaigns for tenure neutrality and a general needs model of social housing

Paper presented to the ENHR 2014 Conference ‘Beyond Globalisation’ in Edinburgh 1 – 4 July 2014


The policy of tenure neutrality championed by the International Union of Tenants advances a model of general needs or universal social rented housing provision unrestricted by income limits or needs-based rationing. Support for this model has been severely undermined by recent European Commission rulings that have restricted access to social housing to those least capable of coping in a competitive market place. As general needs demand for affordable housing continues to swell, the challenge for adherents of tenure neutrality is to demonstrate that universal social housing can meet both the needs of the most vulnerable and the demands of those excluded from homeownership by price inflation and credit limits. This paper examines the promotion of universal social housing by tenants’ organisations and challenges the extent to which this model is intended ‘for all’. It reviews strategies to reinvigorate support for tenure neutrality in arguments for widening access and supply of social housing. ENHR_Universal Claims_author’s version


Welfare housing reform in UK cities and the resilience of a right to housing

Paper presented to the RGS-IBG Annual International Conference  ‘New Geographical Frontiers’ 28 to 30 August 2013 London


As part of a programme of austerity measures, the UK  government has made access to social rented housing increasingly conditional and temporary. This conditionality has presented social housing as a right that must be earned through responsible behaviour.  It has been most visible in the granting of priority access to social housing to members of the armed forces, a measure which recalls the slogan of ‘homes for heroes’ that accompanied the construction of the first general needs public housing after World War I and, paradoxically reflects belief in housing as a universal welfare service. This paper seeks to explore the persistence of a popular discourse of universality around social or public housing. It locates its resilience in the ‘abeyance work’ of tenants’ movement organisations and campaign groups and demonstrates how these movements maintain collective beliefs in social rented housing as a universal right. Universal Claims_RGS2013

Subaltern imaginaries of localism

Paper presented to the Housing Studies Association conference 2013 Changing Political, socioeconomic and institutional landscapes: What are the consequences for housing?  University of York, Wednesday 10th – Friday 12 April 2013


The localism strategies of the UK government provide a suite of ‘rights’ for community organisations that license place-based political imaginaries with the intent to construct the community as a proxy for a smaller state. In constituting the local as a metaphor for democracy and empowerment, however, community localism foregrounds the pivotal role played by place and scale in cementing social differentiation and in naturalising hierarchical power relations. This paper explores the subaltern strategies of localism that may emerge when the rights of localism are exercised by residents’ organisations in marginalised communities of social housing. It demonstrates how the spatial imaginations and spatial practices of localism can be implemented to assert new claims on democracy and citizenship. In particular it identifies four spatial practices – the extension of domestic space, the invocation of locality, the construction of domestic scale, and the scalar reimagining of democracy – that subvert the reordering of political space. Subaltern_imaginaries_of_localism_main_text


The Gift Relationship: the emergence of a non-market economy in the management of vacant property


Community organisations crippled by grant cuts in English cities have taken precarious shelter in vacant office blocks at the invitation of commercial property landlords. The development of this gift relationship between the local third sector and urban property companies provides a vivid indication of the extent to which neoliberal economies utilise non-monetary relations of reciprocity in times of market failure. The economy of reciprocity provides a model of precarious labour that is founded on unpaid, typically gendered, domestic and neighbourly care and exported by community enterprise as a subsidy to capital accumulation. This paper investigates the marketisation of reciprocity as precarious existence in a study of ‘meanwhile space’ or short-notice free lets to the voluntary and community sector in the urban property market. The paper argues that the role of the third sector has been transformed in the new norm of market uncertainty, and that non-monetary exchange and unpaid labour are now the coinage of crisis neoliberalism. The gift relationship