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Please note that the abstract submission is now closed and it is not possible to submit any more papers.

Panel Discussion: Planning Law - past, present and what to expect

Proposed by: Rachelle Alterman (will lead the panel) and Rebecca Leshinsky (moderator)

British land use planning has had a significant impact on numerous nations, across all continents. Western and Eastern Europe have taken on their own unique characteristics, adapting to the effects on their built environment from World War II, and subsequent political regimes. So too, has the Middle East, Africa, Australia, and Asia developed bespoke planning law, often contextualised in their colonial pasts.
One hundred and fifteen years on from the Town and Country Planning Act, and fifty years since communist prescription on how to plan for cities and housing, it is timely to ask leading planning experts to reflect back, take account of the present, as well as make some future predictions on Planning Law - an area of law still not taught in most law schools, and a topic that lacks a “one size fits all” approach.

For this session, the panel members will be selected by Rebecca Leshinksy and Rachelle Alterman.
When the panel members are secured, we will announce the names here.

Special Session 1: Just building more will not solve the housing affordability problem – Critical perspectives on planning, property, and housing exclusion

Proposed by: Josje Bouwmeester, Vera Götze, Jessica Verheij, Deniz Ay and Jean-David Gerber

Cities worldwide are experiencing increasing housing affordability problems. Some scholars argue that this is unavoidable due to scarcity created by planning restrictions on urban development. However, in this session, we aim to focus on broader political and economic processes that drive housing affordability. On the one hand, private landowners, including large institutional investors, play an increasingly important role in shaping housing developments in cities (Theurillat et al., 2010). As these title holders are protected by strong property rights, local planning authorities often have limited intervention power. On the other hand, planning itself has become more entrepreneurial and growth-oriented, characterized by more flexible, negotiated forms of planning at the project level (Gerber, 2016; Tasan-Kok et al., 2019). These shifts become especially visible in the context of urban densification. Planning within the boundaries of the already-built environment presents major challenges to local planning authorities due to the wide range of conflicting rights and interests, including those of property owners. It is argued that densification has become a highly profitable business, leading to gentrification and housing exclusion (Debrunner et al., 2020).
The aim of this session is to address how trends like financialization and entrepreneurial governance drive housing unaffordability, especially in the context of densification. Furthermore, we hope to discuss alternative practices to implement housing objectives, such as, for instance through decommodification. We welcome presentations that contribute to these themes, whether theoretically, empirically, or methodologically. We especially look forward to discussing a wide range of national contexts.

Debrunner G, Hengstermann A and Gerber JD (2020) The Business of Densification - Distribution of Power, Wealth and Inequality in Swiss Policy Making. Town Planning Review 91(3): 259–281.

Gerber JD (2016) The managerial turn and municipal land-use planning in Switzerland – evidence from practice. Planning Theory and Practice 17(2): 192–209. DOI: 10.1080/14649357.2016.1161063.

Tasan-Kok T, van den Hurk M, Özogul S, Bittencourt S (2019) Changing public accountability mechanisms in the governance of Dutch urban regeneration. European Planning Studies 27(6): 1107–1128. DOI: 10.1080/09654313.2019.1598017.

Theurillat T, Corpataux J and Crevoisier O (2010). Property sector financialization: The case of swiss pension funds (1992-2005). European Planning Studies, 18(2), 189–212. DOI: 10.1080/09654310903491507

Special Session 2: Land policies in Europe

Proposed by: Andreas Hengsterman and Thomas Hartmann

In many European countries, land-use planning is facing increasing and oftentimes contradictory challenges. The increasing demand for housing is at odds with the policy objective to reduce land take. Recent developments, such as geopolitical changes that drive migration or the need for climate adaptation, further feeds the dilemma of land-use planning on how to deal with scarce land. This forms a land question, which requires land policies that are able to deal with such dilemmas. A legislative reflex is to adapt planning laws. Oftentimes, such changes lack a deeper reflection of land policy and its implications. Especially an international comparison can foster a structured reflection of the own land policy.
This special session on "Land Policies in Europe" aims to bring together these debates in order to reveal commonalities and differences and enable a structured reflection of land policies.

To facilitate interesting comparisons and high-quality discussions, case-based reflective contributions are encouraged for this Special Session. Therefore, the contributions are encouraged to explore the following elements:
1. A brief description of what is understood by the term "land policy" in the respective country and what are the current debates about land in the country.
2. A brief presentation of the general information on the case study, e.g. by describing procedural aspects of land policy, actors involved, and institutions.
3. A reflection on which aspects of the case are representative and which aspects are rather exceptional for land policy in the respective country.

Special Session 3: Exploring Property Rights' Impact on Planning Theory

Proposed by: Shina Shahab and Andreas Hengstermann

We invite researchers, scholars, practitioners, and policymakers to submit abstracts for a Special Session that focuses on the complex interplay between planning theory, law, and property rights. This session aims to foster insightful discussions and critical analyses of the multifaceted issues that arise at the crossroads of urban planning, legal frameworks, and property rights. We encourage submissions that explore innovative perspectives, theoretical advancements, and empirical findings, contributing to a deeper understanding of these complex dynamics.

Session Scope:
In the context of rapid urbanisation and evolving legal landscapes, the session seeks to address the following themes:
• Evolution of Planning Theory: How has planning theory evolved in response to changing legal paradigms and property rights considerations? Abstracts in this theme should critically assess the transformation of planning theories and their alignment with contemporary legal and property rights issues.
• Legal Frameworks and Urban Theory: How do changing legal paradigms and property rights considerations influence the formation and development of cities? Abstracts in this theme should critically assess the effects of property rights regimes and legal frameworks on urban economic, political, and social processes.
• Property Rights and Spatial Justice: How do differing property rights regimes affect equity, equality, inclusivity, and social cohesion within urban environments? Submissions under this theme should delve into the relationship between property rights, planning ethics, and spatial justice.
• Theories addressing emerging legal and property rights challenges in planning: Exploring cutting-edge challenges and opportunities, this theme calls for abstracts that investigate the implications of emerging technologies, regulations, and environmental imperatives for planning theory, with a focus on evolving legal interpretations and property rights.

Submission Guidelines:
Abstracts should be around 300 words and should clearly outline the research objectives, methodology, and key findings.
Submissions should be submitted via the conference website ( by 30 September 2024.

Accepted abstracts will be presented during the special session, allowing authors to engage with peer scholars. Authors will get the opportunity to contribute to a special issue publication in Urban Planning (ISSN: 2183-7635), providing an avenue for in-depth exploration and dissemination of research outcomes. Full papers are expected to be submitted to the journal by summer 2024.
Join us in this dynamic dialogue that bridges planning theory, law, and property rights, contributing to the advancement of knowledge and the enhancement of sustainable urban development. We look forward to receiving your abstracts and welcoming you to Munich.

For inquiries, don't hesitate to get in touch with the special session chairs:
Sina Shahab, Cardiff University:
Andreas Hengstermann, NMBU:

Special Session 4: The digital (Dis-) Order of the City:
Spatial Governance under the Influence of the Platform Economy

Proposed by: Vilim Brezina, Lea Fischer, Michael Kolocek and Jan Polívka

The platform-based economy is increasingly prevalent in many spatial contexts. Metropolitan hotspots of New Urban Tourism and Gentrification are, in particular, also hotspots for digitally mediated short-term rentals (e.g., via Airbnb) and taxi services (e.g., via Uber). Several scholars discuss the negative externalities associated with these phenomena, including rent gaps, noise pollution, and the effects of tourism. However, empirical findings need to be carefully distinguished for different locations.
According to Kersten (2017), the challenge of assigning responsibility for the externalities of platform-based peer-to-peer services to specific legal entities is described in his crowd theory. However, it is important not to underestimate the individual and collective benefits of the business models, such as resource conservation achieved through sharing existing physical structures or services.
The special session aim to analyse and discuss the challenges and potential benefits of the platform economy, particularly the sharing economy, from multiple thematic and disciplinary viewpoints. Our background is in research that focuses on the impact of short-term rentals from a planning-oriented standpoint.
Panellists and attendees are invited to share their experiences and viewpoints on the following questions:
• What are the main obstacles and potential benefits of the platform economy for spatial planning?
• What regulatory approaches could be implemented to achieve successful outcomes?
• How spatial planning and, in particular, legal instruments can be used or modified to address impacts of the new platform economy?

Special Session 5: Aspiration versus delivery: the implementation of development and enforcement

Proposed by: Hannah Hickmann, Dr Sebastian Dembski, Dr Katie McClymont, and Dr Rebecca Leshinsky

Contrary to the majority of depictions of the planning process, which show the role of planning as ceasing at the point at which permission is granted or a land use plan is approved, planning’s intervention in the development process is far from finished. Although there are fundamental differences between zonal planning systems as prevalent in most of Europe and discretionary planning systems as represented by the UK and Ireland in terms of the moment during the planning process at which development rights are granted, there is often substantial flexibility and discretion when it comes to the implementation of planning decisions. Moreover, planning systems enable decisions on some aspects of development to be deferred ‘post-consent’, or for already permitted elements of schemes to be amended. Importantly, the enforcement of perceived planning breaches adds another important dimension of what happens after the consenting process is often considered complete.

Despite some research on implementation and enforcement (e.g. Baer, 1997; Calor and Alterman, 2017; Harris, 2010; 2011; McKay and Ellis, 2005; Prior, 2000), these topics have received less attention in planning education and research than they arguably deserve. Furthermore, research on implementation has largely focused on the evaluation of general development plans and planning policies, rather than the detailed implementation of developments on specific sites (e.g. Barrett and Fudge, 1981; Talen, 1996; Mastop and Faludi, 1997). Implementation and enforcement of development are at the sharp end of the planning process and bear direct consequences on the quality of the built environment and the ability to realise planning policy goals. Consequently, failure of implementation, or inadequate or ineffective enforcement, have the potential to undermine the efficacy of the whole system (McKay and Ellis, 2005).

The purpose of this special issue is to shed light on this overlooked part of the development process by inviting contributions that aim to understand how aspects of implementation and enforcement operate in different planning systems and the implications for the performance of planning in terms of its outcomes. Collectively, these contributions will reveal new insights into the development process, particularly around the legal status of planning decisions in different contexts, the power dynamics and imbalances in resources between actors in the development process, and the balance between flexibility and discretion in decision making.

Baer, W.C. (1997) Towards design of regulations for the built environment. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 24(1), 37–57.
Barrett, S. and Fudge, C. (1981) Policy and Action: Essays on the Implementation of Public Policy. Methuen, London.
Calor, I., and Alterman, R. (2017) When enforcement fails: comparative analysis of the legal and planning responses to non-compliant development in two advanced-economy countries. International Journal of Law in the Built Environment, 9(3), 207–239.
Harris, N. (2010) Discretion and expediency in the enforcement of planning controls. Town Planning Review, 81(6), 675–700.
Harris, N. (2011) Discipline, surveillance, control: a Foucaultian perspective on the enforcement of planning regulations. Planning Theory and Practice, 12(1), 57–76.
Mastop, H. and Faludi, A. (1997) Evaluation of strategic plans: the performance principle. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 24, 815–832.
McKay, S. and Ellis, G. (2005) Reparation or retribution: an investigation into regulatory compliance in planning. Environment and Planning A, 2005, 37, 1249–1262.
Prior, A. (2000) Problems in the theory and practice of planning enforcement. Planning Theory and Practice, 1(1), 53–69.
Talen, E. (1996) Do plans get implemented? A review of evaluation in planning. Journal of Planning Literature, 10(3), 248–259.

Before 1 October 2023: Submission of abstracts to guest editors
Before 1 March 2024: Submission of full papers to guest editors
18-22 March 2024: Special Session at PLPR Munich, Germany
Publication in first half of 2025

Guest editors
• Hannah Hickman, Associate Professor in Planning Practice, UWE, Bristol
• Dr Sebastian Dembski, Senior Lecturer in Planning, University of Liverpool
• Dr Katie McClymont, Associate Professor in Urban Planning, UWE, Bristol,
• Dr Rebecca Leshinksy, Associate Professor, RMIT Australia I