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Professor Graham Haughton
Professor of Human Geography
Hull University

This seminar will look at the way in which new ‘soft spaces’ of governance are being created that operate alongside the formal statutory spaces of the planning system. These bring with them some positives in terms of opening up opportunities for new alliances and fresh, creative thinking, whilst also aligning with the real geographies of development rather than political boundaries. Alternatively, they can be potentially regressive, providing a means of sidelining formal democratic processes of consultation and approval, encouraging ‘creeping validation’. Examples of such soft spaces range from masterplans, to housing renewal pathfinder areas, the sustainable communities growth areas such as the Thames Gateway and initiatives such as the Northern Way.