Matthew Wargent, Gavin Parker, Emma Street | European Planning Studies
Despite intermittent recognition of the input of private planning consultants in the UK planning system, there remains a paucity of empirical studies into their roles and influence in contemporary practice. Drawing on interviews with both public and private planners in England, this paper explores the nature of the public-private entanglements that increasingly define local planning practice. These include the heterogeneity of the consultant market, the rationales employed to justify consultant use, the nature of the expertise being deployed, and the asymmetrical nature of public/private relationships. The paper argues that the demands made on the public planning system and the planners that operate it are driving teleological explanations of the use of private expertise, displaying an ambivalence to the fact that Local Planning Authorities are in a position of critical dependency with private sector consultants. In concluding, it is argued that the knowledges that underpin planning practices are increasingly shaped by the market, with the potential to undermine planning’s public interest purpose.