Governing Urban Revitalisation: The case of Central Dandenong, Melbourne 

Stream: Panel 2 - Comparative Politics: Governing the Urban: Tales of Different Cities 
Date: Monday, 26 September 2016
Time: 11.30 am – 1.00 pm
Speaker(s): Helen Sullivan, Brendan Gleeson and Hayley Henderson

Contemporary urban governance is characterised by a shift away from ‘old’ to ‘new’ imaginaries that emphasise fragmentation, diversity, and complexity. Collaboration is a key governance technology in formal and informal institutions and makes specific demands on local actors (Sullivan et al, 2013). Urban planning is a core activity often held at a distance from political science. This paper argues that to understand the narratives and practices of ‘austerity’ and the implications for urban governance analyses of urban planning need to be brought into conversation with urban politics. The paper develops that argument using the case of Revitalising Central Dandenong (RCD) in Melbourne.

The new imaginaries in urban planning replace rational comprehensive planning with strategic and development-led place-based planning (Albrechts, 2006). We propose that RCD offers a helpful illustration of this as it represents: a public sector led effort to intervene selectively in an urban social reality through integrated, place-based planning; an expression of collaborative action between project actors to break down silos and achieve innovative outcomes using formal institutions and informal practices; and an illustration of the role of ‘austerity’ narratives over time.

Insights from initial interviews with key actors suggest that policy positioning towards regeneration is shaped primarily by the established ideologies of Left and Right. These may incorporate narratives of ‘austerity budgeting’ (Peck, 2012). The paper explores the local dynamics of collaboration and co-production in place-based urban governance, and shows how the role of the State is conceptualised and operationalised distinctly under different urban political regimes.