36th AESOP Annual Congress 2024 Paris, France
“GAME CHANGER? Planning for just and sustainable urban regions”

Planning Reform in England and France – A Tale of Two Systems


  • Olivier Sykes, University of Liverpool
  • Xavier Desjardins, Sorbonne Université

The French and British Planning Studies Group was founded in 1998, initially by British academics who had undertaken research in France. In the intervening years through a cycle of events and publications it has explored different themes in planning and related fields ranging from metropolitan planning, to culture-led regeneration, rail-based urban development, and green cities. Over two and a half decades of ‘regards croisés’ between planning systems a recurring theme has been the differing timbre of planning debates and cadence of planning reforms on either side of the Channel. In general, it seems reform occurs more frequently and is often framed in more ideological terms in England than in France.
Ongoing changes and challenges to planning in both countries give provide an opportunity to revisit and explore some of these assumptions. UK-based members of the group have recently explored and published work which explores the experience of planning on the island of Britain with a focus on England over the ‘long 2010s’ (Sykes and Sturzaker, 2023). The goal of the special session would be to foster dialogue and exchanges with those who have researched the evolution of French planning over a similar period to explore similarities and divergences in the trajectory of planning experience and reform.

Reference: Sykes, O, and Sturzaker, J. (Eds.) (2023), Planning in a Failing State – reforming spatial governance in England, Policy Press, Bristol.