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Publication Detail
Hard, soft and thin governance spaces in land-use change: comparing office-to-residential conversions in England, Scotland and the Netherlands
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Authors:
    Canelas P, Clifford B, Ferm J, Livingstone N
  • Publisher:
    Informa UK Limited
  • Publication date:
    30/09/2021
  • Pagination:
    1, 19
  • Journal:
    European Planning Studies
  • Status:
    Accepted
  • Language:
    English
  • Keywords:
    Change of use, office-to-residential, planning, permitted development, deregulation, governance spaces
  • Notes:
    © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
Abstract
In recent years, converting office buildings to residential use became a high-profile issue in the UK and in the Netherlands. There has, however, been differentiation in the policy response between England and Scotland (planning policy being devolved within the UK), and the Netherlands. We conceptualize this differentiation through the lens of variegated neoliberalism in the forms of hard, soft and thin governance spaces. England, where planning deregulation is more strongly adopted, represents a thin governance space. Scotland, where there has been little policy change, illustrates a hard governance space. The Netherlands represents a soft governance space, where proactive partnerships between government and developers predominate. This paper characterizes these distinct governance spaces and explores their impact on housing delivery and place-making, and the impact of underlying ideologies and planning culture(s) in governing office-to-residential conversions in the three countries. Drawing on national government assessments and statistics, interviews with stakeholders, and case study data from three cities: Leeds, Glasgow and Rotterdam, we conclude that while both hard and soft governance spaces, to different degrees and with different merits, are environments that enable planning, thin governance spaces – being driven more by ideology than notions of good governance – imply weak planning and place-making.
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