Urban Governance and Housing Seminar

1 April 2015
Two presentations by researchers from England and Australia 

This forum explores how two nations with shared traditions but very different systems of urban governance and planning mediate the supply of new housing, and the roles played by government, planning authorities, developers, property owners and the public in this process.

It situates these questions within the wider "politics of housing policy", which have occupied both countries for the past decade in a context of ongoing concern about inadequate supply, affordability pressures, and declining rates of home ownership.

Two presentations by researchers from England, and Australia provide a focus for discussion;

  • The first presentation Self-help: Localism, housing and neighbourhood revitalisation in England (Dr Madeline Pill, University of Sydney), examines local level forms of neighbourhood intervention. The English urban deprived neighbourhood has long been a scale for intervention and a site for action, giving rise to a variety of forms of neighbourhood governance and housing outcomes. Drawing on two phases of research in two urban local authorities, the presentation examines emerging forms of neighbourhood governance. These forms differ significantly in their design and purpose (one being explicitly for planning), but as both are voluntary and receive no additional funding, better organised and more affluent communities are more likely to pursue their development. The Coalition Government's brand of 'small state' localism is an active political strategy which affirms the self-help conjuncture and challenges the potential of neighbourhood governance as a medium of revitalisation and housing delivery.
  • The second presentation: Are governments really interested in fixing the housing problem in Australia? (Professor Nicole Gurran, University of Sydney) situates Australia in international context as a basis for comparison with other countries, outlines the co-evolution of urban governance, planning and housing provision in Australia, and traces the emergence of a particular "politics of housing policy". The presentation asks whether government responses to housing problems are beginning to resemble "busy work", exhibiting and absorbing policy energy while at the same time constraining the suite of policy options and tools able to really address the housing affordability problems affecting low income renters and aspiring owners in Australia.

About the speakers

Image of Madeleine Pill

Madeleine Pill
Lecturer in Public Policy, Department of Government and International Relations
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Sydney
Dr Madeleine Pill's research focuses on critical approaches to urban and neighbourhood governance and policy in comparative perspective.  She teaches postgraduate courses on governance, civil society and policymaking. Her research includes a comparative investigation of neighbourhood governance in Baltimore and Bristol; an assessment of approaches in London; development of the evidence base for policy approaches in Wales for the Welsh Government; and regarding the implications of England’s localism agenda. She is currently engaged in two international comparative research projects regarding the effects of austerity on the collaborative governance of cities. Her research is informed by her experiences working in local and national government in the UK (regeneration and housing supply), state government in Australia (the Metropolitan Strategy for Sydney), and academic study and research work (at Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies) in the US.

Image of Nicole Gurran

Professor Nicole Gurran
Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning
Nicole Gurran is a professor of urban planning at the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Design and Planning and Director of the University’s Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) Sydney research centre.  Her research focuses on urban policy, planning and housing outcomes, particularly in relation to affordability. Her research has been funded by the Australian Research Council, AHURI, state and local governments, and the Henry Halloran Trust. She has written numerous journal articles on aspects of urban policy, reform, and housing, and she is the author of the book Australian Urban Land Use Planning; Principles Systems and Practice, now in its second edition .