Free Publications

This page introduces Quintin Bradley’s  research into key issues of housing and planning policy. You can find links to my papers published in academic journals. You can download an ‘author’s version’ of most journal articles.


Artificial Scarcity in Housebuilding and the Impact on Affordability: The Return of Absolute Rent

by Quintin Bradley. Published in Antipode, January 2023.

The slow response of volume housebuilders to changes in demand has been cited as a contributing cause of a global crisis of housing affordability and allegations of land banking have persistently dogged the industry. This article reviews the supply responsiveness of speculative housebuilders in the United Kingdom and Australia through the neglected Marxian analytic category of absolute rent. Absolute rent directs attention to the relationship between the value of land and the cost of housing and models a market in which landowners may withdraw land from supply to inflate prices. Through the lens of absolute rent, the real estate practices of the housebuilding industry can be understood as a strategy of artificial scarcity straddling land and housing markets. The findings of this investigation demonstrate the insights to be gained by a return to absolute rent that valuably expand the current debate on the supply and cost of housing. Read the full article here


The accountancy of marketisation: fictional markets in housing land supply

by Quintin Bradley. Published in Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, November 2021 DOI: 10.1177/0308518X211061583

This article investigates the performative role of accountancy in embedding market mechanisms in public services. Drawing on the work of Karl Polanyi, it argues that marketisation can be understood as a work of calculative modelling in which the fiction of a self-regulating market is propagated through the concealment of the social and political practices on which it depends. Exploring this thesis in the marketisation of housing land supply, the article provides a forensic study of an accountancy procedure called the Housing Delivery Test that modelled an ideal housing market in the English land-use planning system. The study points to the importance of Polanyi’s analysis in theorising the performativity of calculative practices in the project of marketisation, not as creating the economy they describe but in fashioning a fictional market. Read the full article here


The financialisation of housing land supply in England

by Quintin Bradley. Accepted for publication in Urban Studies, January 2020

The aim of this article is to identify the calculative practices that turn urban development planning into the supply-side of land financialisation.  My focus is on the statutory planning of housing supply and the accounting procedures, or market devices, that normalise the practices of land speculation in the earliest stage of the urban development process.   I provide an analysis of the accountancy regime used by planning authorities in England to evidence a  5-year supply of housing land. Drawing on the work of Michel Callon on market framing, I assess the activities of economic agents in performing or ‘formatting’ this supply, its boundaries, externalities and rules of operation. I evidence the effect of this formatting in normalising the treatment of land as a financial asset and in orienting the statutory regulation of land supply to the provision of opportunities for the capture of increased ground rent at a cost to the delivery of new homes. Read the full article here


Public support for Green Belt: common rights in countryside access and recreation

by Quintin Bradley. Accepted for publication in Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning, August 2019

Public support for Green Belt in England is legendary but is often dismissed as sentimental attachment. The aim of this paper is to situate public support for Green Belt within a history of common rights and access campaigns anda specific cultural landscape of outdoor recreation. This paper contends that Green Belt in England carries notions of common rights established in struggles against the enclosure and privatisation of open spaces from the early 19thCentury and predicated on an understanding that the policy conveys a communal interest in land and landscape. It argues that contemporary public affection for Green Belts is expressed through practices of ‘commoning’ or the performance of claimed common rights of property. Drawing on field research with a popular campaign in North West England, the paper evidences the deployment of a history of access struggles to preserve Green Belt as recreational amenity and accessible countryside.  In the perception of Green Belt as a collective resource the paper posits the continuing relevance of common rights to planning policy. It concludes that a clearer understanding of popular support for Green Belt may provide planning scholarship with new perspectives on notions of public good and the use rights of property.Read the full article here:PublicSupportforGreenBelt_final

The use of direct democracy to decide housing site allocations in English neighbourhoods

by Quintin Bradley. Published in Housing Studies (2019) DOI: 10.1080/02673037.2019.1598548

The aim of this article is to reclaim the democratic legitimacy of self-selecting and informed publics in citizen engagement in housing development planning. It argues for an approach to public participation in which the issues, and the articulation of conflicting attachments to those issues, are understood as the occasion for democratic politics. The article illustrates this approach in an analysis of the use of direct democracy to decide housing allocations in the policy of neighbourhood planning in England. Drawing on literature from Science and Technology Studies and actor–network theory, it evidences the public articulation of house-building as a matter of concern and identifies the agency of housing in enrolling publics, translating interests and in fostering debate and contention. It concludes that the articulation of conflicting interests can deepen democratic engagement in housing development planning and open up the exclusions through which this issue is currently framed. Read the full article here: The use of direct democracy to decide housing site allocations in English neighbourhoods_final

Combined Authorities and material participation: The capacity of Green Belt to engage political publics in England

by Quintin Bradley. Published in Local Economy 2019, Vol. 34(2) 181–195

The aim of this paper is to consider the passions aroused by Green Belts in their urban containment function as a political accomplishment that has the capacity to orient publics around new spaces of governance. The paper addresses what it identifies as a problem of relevance in the new Combined Authorities in England where public identity and belonging may be more firmly rooted in other places and settings. It draws on the literature on material participation to locate the capacity to foster public belonging in objects, things and settings, and considers the environmental planning designation of Green Belt as an assemblage of the human and non-human which has the power to connect and contain. In a case study of plans for Green Belt reduction in the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, the paper evidences the power of the non-human to mobilise public engagement and to foster territorial identity. The paper concludes by setting out an approach to public participation that foregrounds the importance of material interests and affective relations with objects and things in the formation of political communities. Read the full article here: Combined authorities and material participation the capacity of green belt_author-version


Neighbourhood planning and the production of spatial knowledge

by Quintin Bradley (2018) Town Planning Review. Vol. 89 (1) 23-42

This paper explores the production of what counts as authoritative knowledge in neighbourhood planning in England. The aim of the paper is to evidence the process through which the intelligibility of place was established in participatory planning in neighbourhoods and to chart the exclusions and exceptions through which spatial norms were produced. It evidences the moderating effect that logics of economic development had in a policy dedicated to the promotion of sustainable development, and, in contrast, it analyses the new expressions of place intelligibility successfully rendered in neighbourhood planning. The paper concludes that the ability of neighbourhood planners to privilege place over logics of development points to a more inclusive and egalitarian approach to the construction of planning knowledge. Read the full paper here: Neighbourhoodplanningandtheproductionofknowledge_final


Neighbourhood planning and the impact of place identity on housing development in England

by Quintin Bradley (2017)  Planning Theory & Practice. Vol.18 (2): 233-248

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_final

Localism & Neighbourhood Planning: power to the people?

By Sue Brownill and Quintin Bradley (2017) Bristol. Policy Press


The Impact of Neighbourhood Planning and Localism on House-building in England,

by Quintin Bradley & William Sparling (2016) Housing, Theory and Society, Vol. 34 (1): 106-118

The devolution of governance to communities is an integral aspect of the state strategy of localism but may conflict with a spatial restructuring dedicated to the liberalization of economic growth.  In England community opposition to house-building has been cited as one of the key factors in the decline in new housing supply over the last decade.  The policy of neighbourhood planning was introduced there in 2011 to overcome this opposition by devolving limited powers to communities to influence development. It was anticipated that giving communities the right to draw up neighbourhood development plans would secure their compliance with a pro-growth agenda and increase the number of sites allocated for housing. This paper explores the impact of neighbourhood planning in England on housing development and analyses its lessons for the state strategy of localism. It argues that neighbourhood planning is emerging as the proponent of sustainability and social purpose in the English housing market, in conflict with the corporate interests of a liberalised housing development market. Neighbourhood planning and house-building_final


Sustainable Communities and the new patchwork politics of place

By Quintin Bradley and David Haigh.In Dastbaz, M & I Strange (2015) Building Sustainable Futures: Design and the Built Environment. Springer Press

The pairing of community and sustainable development has dominated the international policy agenda for at least three decades with its assertion that the imperatives of capital accumulation can be balanced for the needs of social reproduction. The community provides a model of sustainability in which the economics of collective consumption and the politics of community action can be engaged in the planning and stewardship of local development. The strategies of sustainable communities that result combine the market zeal of spatial liberalism with themes of redistributive justice and equality. This chapter identifies these competing strands in government strategies for sustainable communities in England and particularly the programme of neighbourhood planning introduced from 2011 in which the sustainable community was positioned as the regulator of development and a reassuringly familiar substitute for the welfare state. We argue that through this programme responsibility for achieving environmental and social sustainability was largely abandoned by the state and relegated to the domestic networks of the community. We explore the definition of sustainability that emerged from communities and their neighbourhood plans. In attempts by neighbourhood planning groups to establish innovative strategies of participation and community management we evidence the continuance of claims of redistribution and spatial equality in the concept of sustainability. In this unequal geography of community initiatives, we chart the development of a new patchwork politics of place.Building Sustainable Futures chapter_Final

The political identities of neighbourhood planning in England

Bradley, Q (2015)  Space and Polity. First published on 2 June 2015 . Vol.19 (2): 97-109


The collective empowerment imagined in the government rhetoric of localism bears little resemblance to the market model of aggregative democracy that characterises much of the practice of participation in spatial planning. This paper explores one of the rare statutory strategies to engage collective participation and to mobilise the neighbourhood as an institution of spatial planning. In a study of neighbourhood planning in England it investigates the new political identities that emerged and the conflicts and antagonism that accompanied them. Drawing on the work of philosopher Chantal Mouffe, the paper explores the significance of the political practices that resulted for the state strategy of localism. Political identities of neighbourhood planning_final


Bringing democracy back home: community localism and the domestication of political space

Bradley, Q (2014) Environment & Planning D: Society & Space. Vol.32 No. 4: 642-657


Strategies of localism have constituted the community as a metaphor for democracy and empowerment as part of a wider reordering of state institutions and state power. In conflating the smallest scale with increased participation, however, community localism provides a framework through which the power of socio-spatial positioning might be made vulnerable to resistance and change. This paper identifies four spatial practices through which marginalised communities apply the technology of localism to challenge the limitations of their positioning and imprint promises of empowerment and democracy on space. Drawing on the work of Judith Butler the paper theorises these practices as the incursion into the public realm of regulatory norms related to domestic and private spaces, rendering political space familiar and malleable, and suggesting that power and decision-making can be brought within reach. It is argued that these spatial practices of community rehearse a more fundamental transformation of the political ordering of space than that authorised by the state strategies of localism. Bringing_democracy_back_home_authors_version

Tenants’ campaigns for tenure neutrality and a general needs model of social housing: making universal claims

Quintin Bradley (2014):  International Journal of Housing Policy, DOI: 10.1080/14616718.2014.908569


The policy of tenure neutrality championed by the International Union of Tenants as essential to a right to adequate housing 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’. In a case study of the defence of municipal housing by English tenants’ movements it identifies the exclusionary narratives that render the particular housing needs of advantaged social groups as universal. The paper concludes by reviewing strategies to resolve the tensions between the universal and the particular to reinvigorate support for tenure neutrality in arguments for widening access and supply of social housing. Universal Claims_author’s version


‘Putting our mark on things’: the identity work of user participation in public services

Bradley, Q (2013) Critical Social Policy. First published on January 29, 2013 as doi:10.1177/0261018312468306


New relationships between service users and the welfare state have emerged as a result of governmental strategies of public service reform in which participation has appeared as the cure for a putative welfare dependency. A new public has been invoked in technologies of governance which have conflated responsible citizenship with participation in the marketplace and have aimed to change the behaviour of welfare service users accordingly. This paper investigates the ability of welfare service users to resist, or amend, the disciplinary intentions of these discourses, to constitute ‘counter-publics’, and to formulate their own visions of public services. Drawing on research with English social housing tenants engaged in participation with their quasi-public landlords, and applying a theoretical framework based on the work of feminist and queer theorist Judith Butler, the paper explores the behavioural effects of participation on tenants and evidences their use of consumerist and communitarian discourses to construct alternative perceptions of a ‘public’, and re-imagine their relationship with public services. IdentityWork_inUserParticipation_author_version


Proud to be a tenant: the construction of common cause among residents in social housing

Bradley, Q (2012)  Housing Studies. Vol. 27. No. 8: 1124-1141


This paper demonstrates the assemblage of a distinctive body of combative beliefs among social housing tenants in England engaged in formal participation with their landlords. Applying the social movement diagnostic of frame analysis, the paper identifies three ‘collective identity frames’ that signify the construction of common cause among a diverse and fragmented tenant population. These frames celebrate social housing as a public good, promote grass-roots decision-making, and advocate direct democracy to public services. They champion local knowledge and local services and articulate a commitment to collective action and collective provision that opposes itself to the individualising discourse of the market. While a lack of unity characterises the organisation of social housing tenants, this assemblage of contentious claims may signify the continuation of narratives of a tenants’ movement and indicate the cautious mobilisation of a distinctive ‘counter-discourse’ in housing policy. Proud_to_be_a_Tenant_2012

A “Performative Social Movement”: the emergence of collective contentions within collaborative governance

Bradley, Q (2012)  Space & Polity. Vol.16. No.2: 215-232


The enmeshment of urban movements in networks of collaborative governance has been characterised as a process of co-option in which previously disruptive contentions are absorbed by regimes and reproduced in ways that do not threaten the stability of power relations. Applying a theoretical framework drawn from feminist philosopher Judith Butler this paper directs attention to the development of collective oppositional identities that remain embedded in conventional political processes. In a case study of the English tenants’ movement it investigates the potential of regulatory discourses that draw on market theories of performative voice to offer the collectivising narratives and belief in change that can generate the emotional identification of a social movement. The paper originates the concept of the ‘performative social movement’ to denote the contentious claims that continue to emerge from urban movements that otherwise appear quiescent. PerformativeSocialMovement


Trouble at the Top: The Construction of a Tenant Identity in the Governance of Social Housing Organizations.

Bradley, Q. (2010)  Housing, Theory and Society. First published on: 16 July 2010 (iFirst)


The project of citizen governance has transformed the social housing sector in England where 20,000 tenants now sit as directors on the boards of housing associations, but the entrance of social housing tenants to the boardroom has aroused opposition from the chief executives of housing companies and triggered regulatory intervention from government inspectors. This paper investigates the cause of these tensions through a theoretical framework drawn from the work of feminist philosopher Judith Butler. It interprets housing governance as an identificatory project with the power to constitute tenant directors as regulated subjects, and presents evidence to suggest that this project of identity fails to completely enclose its subject, allowing tenant directors to engage in ‘identity work’ that threatens the supposed unity of the board. The paper charts the development of antagonism and political tension in the board rooms of housing companies to present an innovative account of the construction and contestation of identities in housing governance. Trouble_at_the_Top_HTSVol28No1


Capturing the Castle: tenant governance in social housing companies

Bradley, Q (2008) Housing Studies. Vol. 23, No. 6 879-897


In the contemporary landscape of social housing in Britain, the role of tenants on the governing boards of housing companies continues to be seen as deeply problematic. While tenant directors are recruited to bring a market-like influence to social housing governance, they appear to be approaching their positions as directors in a way that is contrary to the drive towards management efficiency. This paper adopts a social constructionist approach to recast the institutions of housing governance as contested articulations of ideology and the ‘problem’ of tenant board members as a hegemonic clash between discourses of governance. It concludes that tenant directors act as a significant dynamic in the political construction of social housing today. Capturing_the_Castle_HSVol28No6