Past Event

Alliance Workshop: Planning Regulation in Comparative Perspective

March 22, 2022
9:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Event time is displayed in your time zone.
Sciences Po, Salle du Conseil 13 rue de l'Université, 75007 Paris

9 AM: Welcome & Introductory Remarks

9:30 - 9:45 AM: Robert Beauregard, Professor Emeritus, Columbia University, “Planning Regulation as Bargaining: Re-Zoning in New York City”

9:45 - 10 AM: Marco Cremaschi, Professor, Sciences Po, Centre for European Studies and Comparative Politics, “The Political Zoning of Planning Regulation in Paris”

10 - 10:15 AM: Laura Lieto, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II (Napoli), “Discretionary Power and Regulation in Napoli” Coffee Break

10:45 - 11:15 AM: Jacint Jordana, Professor of Political Science and Public Administration, University Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, “Cities and The Evolving Nature of Regulation”

11:15 -11:45 AM: Charlotte Halpern, Researcher, Sciences Po, Centre for European Studies and Comparative Politics, “Cities and The Diffusion of Regulatory Instruments”

11:45 AM - 12:15 PM: Discussion, QA

12:15 -12:30 PM: Final Remarks


Regulation is central to the efforts of planner to implement their ideas. Planning regulates city change and also provides direct access to some public goods and influences their redistribution. Cities, moreover, have long been regulated through various private and public controls, involving a plurality of actors, agencies and institutions far beyond the realm of planning. For instance, the institutions in charge of controlling the risk of flood, fire, pollution etc., have constantly interfered with urban planning regulation. And, the recent pandemic event reminded everybody of the historical importance of health and hygienic regulation on building and urban developments.

However, during the modern age of urban growth, the institutionalization of urban planning in the local government framework led to a fusion with plan-making. As a result, plans have come to combine visions and anticipation of future layouts, the provision of land and amenities, and an increasingly complex set of norms regulating distance, height, form, uses on one side. Regulation and planning overlap on another, even more interesting, aspect, i.e. the question of whom must be involved in the decision-making process around a planning decision and how.

Urban growth in the global south seems far less affected by public regulation: informality has been widely acknowledged as a relevant form of urban provision that has to be accepted and sometimes re-regulated. Informal planning is not un-regulated, however, but rather the objects of cultural norms and political regulation that may overlap and get in tension with norms.

Of late, the evolving relations between public and private actors brought to an extension of the regulative aspects of planning, authorizing developers to take up roles and functions previously in the public domain and devising new and different partnership agreements in many different fields. Since the seventies and the coming to power of conservative leaders like Thatcher and Reagan, a consistent 'deregulative’ pressure altered the postwar social control of markets. Urban development and planning have been the object of alternative de-regulative and re- regulative efforts, and often the explicit target: in many sectors, scholars tried to elucidate the hidden and sometimes unforeseen consequences of this process of remaking the boundaries between state and society.


In 2018 and 2019, the Alliance Program funded two doctoral workshops between Columbia (GSAPP: Professor Robert Beauregard) and Sciences Po (CEE: Professor Marco Cremaschi). One of the products of this workshop was a collaboration with other guests, Yvonne Rydin (University College London) and Laura Lieto (Federico II University Naples), around the issue of regulation and planning. This series of events produced a book, Regulation and Planning, Practices, Institutions, Agency, which Routledge printed in 2021. Contributors to this book addressed the urban planners’ regulatory practices in several examples and different countries, scrutinizing the mediation between laws, de facto situations, and stakeholders’ interpretations. Researchers have dealt here with regulation not simply as a set of legal guidelines to be compared against proposed actions but as a social practice in which issues of governmental legitimacy, cultural understandings, materiality, and power are contested.

Revealed, is that planners deploy a specific political awareness when managing conflicts and anticipating consequences of regulatory decisions well beyond the traditional expectation of exerting a coercive power of adjudication. Instead, planners increasingly mediate between conflicting normative views diving in complex normative environments. The contributors point to the context and skills that shape the practices of regulation; the variety of normative institutions that balance the public interest with private claims; the crucial role of intermediaries, a combination of different socio-material alliances, that translate the abstract knowledge of norms into forms of practical regulation.

Biographies of Speakers

Robert A. Beauregard is Professor Emeritus of Urban Planning at Columbia University. Beauregard’s research has focused mainly on urban planning and urbanization in the United States with particular attention to industrial city decline after World War II – a story told in Voices of Decline: The Postwar Fate of US Cities (Routledge, 2003ed.). His most recent books on this general topic are Advanced Introduction to Planning Theory (Edward Elgar, 2020).

Marco Cremaschi, PhD. Urban Planning, an expert in Urban Policies, is a full professor at the Urban School & member of the Centre for European Studies and comparative Politics, Sciences Po, Paris, and a fellow of the Institut Convergence Migration, Paris. He directs the Urban Planning Cycle and teaches at the Urban School of Sciences Po, after having been director of the Master in Urban Project at Roma Tre. His last book is Culture and Policy-Making. Pluralism, Performativity, and Semiotic Capital (co-auth. with C. Fioretti, T. Mannarini, S. Salvatore: Springer, 2021).

Charlotte Halpern holds a PhD in political science and is an FNSP tenured researcher at Sciences Po, Centre for European Studies and Comparative Politics in Paris. She has done extensive research on state restructuring, policy change and the selection of policy instruments, mainly in the field of environmental, transport and urban policies in Europe and South America. She has co-edited : Policy analysis in France, Policy press, 2018 with P. Hassenteufel and P. Zittoun; Policy instrumentation, Presses de Sciences Po, 2014 with P. Lascoumes and P. Le Galès.

Jacint Jordana is professor of Political Science and Public Administration at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Currently, he is director of the Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals (IBEI), an inter-university research institute devoted to international studies. His main research area is focused on the analysis of public policies, with special emphasis being laid on regulatory policy and regulatory governance.

Laura Lieto, professor of urban planning at the Department of Architecture, Federico II University, Italy, is a planning theorist and an urban ethnographer. Among her latest publications: 2020, Star Architecture as Socio-Material Assemblage. In: Alayili-Mattar N., Ponzini D. and Thierstein A. (eds.), About Star Architecture. Reflecting on Cities in Europe. Verlag: Springer.