Robert Freestone, “Progress in Australian planning history: Traditions, themes and transformations” Progress in Planning V91, July 2014 pp. 1-29


Planning history is a distinctive strain in modern planning scholarship that provides dividends in the broader understanding of planning’s aims, development, impacts, achievements and limitations. Since the 1970s, with the infusion of more critical social science and creative humanities perspectives, planning history has developed a global reach characterised by cross-cutting themes and international institutions but research remains largely organised on a national basis. This review of recent and cutting edge literature deals exclusively with the Australian realm: its origins, governance, preoccupations and potentials. The major focus is on recent (mainly post-2002) literature and contributions capturing of innovative takes on the historical development of planning. Like urban history, planning history takes shape primarily within topical clusters and Abbott’s (2006) threefold characterisation of urban history concerns for planners provides a useful typology. Against this backdrop, the paper describes the culture, structure and progress of planning history studies from an Australian perspective. It establishes an interdisciplinary framework with other adjectival histories (architectural, urban, environmental, social), reviews recent path-breaking research organised around six major themes resonant of wider planning concerns, and reflects on directions for future research.


• The culture, structure and progress of planning history studies from an Australian perspective are described.
• Timely stocktake of literature focusing on recent (mainly post-2002) contributions.
• An interdisciplinary framework for work at the interface of architectural, urban, environmental, and social histories is established.
• Six major strands of cutting edge work resonant of wider planning concerns are established.
• Reflections on the direction of future research needs and opportunities.