The Bartlett School of Planning


Slow Cities, Urban Politics and the Temporalities of Planning: Lessons from London

09 October 2018, 5:30 pm–8:00 pm

London Planning Seminars

The first installation of the London Planning Seminar Series 2018/19

Event Information

Open to





Professor Mike Raco


Room G.01
Central House
14 Upper Woburn Place


Speakers: Mike RacoDan Durrant and Nicola Livingstone, Bartlett School of Planning, UCL

In the wake of the global financial crash of 2007-8 many governments have sought to streamline their post- war planning systems and encourage faster project delivery. Expedited decision-making is equated with efficiency and the meeting of broader growth objectives, whereas slower and more complex forms of engagement are presented as an impediment and a governmental problem to be solved through reform. For critical authors such as Weber, such approaches are fraught with danger.

The core objective of planning systems should, conversely, be focused on the production of ‘slow cities’, in which decision-making times allow time for proper democratic and judicial-technical oversight of development processes. Slow planning, it is claimed, can limit the negative impacts of rapid development on urban built environments and communities. In this paper we draw on research in London to examine the relationships between the temporalities of planning, project outcomes, and the politics of time. We argue that within critical urban studies there needs to be a stronger focus on the temporal dimensions of governance and the temporal resources possessed by different actors. We highlight the conditions in and through which the temporalities of planning are deployed strategically by different interests and assess the ways in which powerful, reflexive, and time-resourced developers and investors use planning timeframes to capture markets and boost returns over the longer-term. We conclude by setting out agendas for future research and for more variegated and contextualised explorations of fast and slow planning processes.

You can find more information about the London Planning Seminar Series and the full schedule here.