Towards an urban political ecology for planning policy: the scalar tensions of sustainable urban futures in East London

Authors: Andrew Hoolachan*,
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Cultural and Political Ecology, Geographic Theory
Keywords: urban planning, sustainable development, scale, UK, London
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: 8223, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Critiques of sustainable development models and their application to urban policy are well-established. Nevertheless, when it comes to the application of these models in physical settings there is still work to be done if we are to tackle the challenges of future cities. In the light of the re-scaling of policy architectures and planning systems in recent years, there exists both ongoing and new research gaps in recognising the scalar tensions between urban sustainability plans which operate at different scales. This paper presents findings from doctoral research in which planning documents over three spatial scales over the same urban area were analysed and compared using the method outlined by Hopwood et al. and later advanced by Lombardi et al. These were analysed in terms of their interpretation of ‘sustainability’. Secondly the documents were considered in the context of a physical urban setting, noting their impacts on a singular multi-scalar multi-functional linear ‘greenway’ in East London over which the three planning documents had an influence in shaping. Using a framework of urban political ecology, site-based methods were used to analyse the urban design, landscape design, social uses, future aspirations and plans of the greenway. Thus from both the policy and site-based analysis, two contrasting typologies of future sustainable development in East London were uncovered, presenting us with a trade-off between two different visions of urban sustainability. In doing so the work brought together the often-neglected interplay between policy and the physical in both planning theory and urban geography.

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