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Planning out of place and the place of planners: Culture, landscape and planning for farmland protection in an era of rural transition: a case study of peri-urban and multi-functional regions around Melbourne, Australia

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posted on 2023-01-18, 17:43 authored by Andrew Butt
Submission note: A thesis submitted in total fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy to the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce, La Trobe University, Bundoora.

Peri-urbanisation and related processes of development and change challenge the legitimacy and capacity of rural planning as an instrument for effectively managing land use. Trends towards non-farming rural activities and the emergence of social preferences for rural lifestyle options are evident in land use conflicts and are the central concerns of rural planning in Australia. Yet despite the variegated realities of change, planning responses are typically framed in abstract, uniform and delocalised ideals of appropriate rural landscapes and land uses. These regions defy existing logics of territorial distinction. My research explored the practices and attitudes of rural planners operating within a context of peri-urbanisation and the formation of multi-functional rural landscapes. It involved a case study of the views and responses of land use planners working within the extensive and expanding peri-urban region surrounding the city of Melbourne, in the Australian state of Victoria. Its substance is concerned with how peri-urbanisation is occurring, how policy and policy cultures have formed to problematise it, and consequently how planners consider, understand and represent the formation of such places. My work included historical assessment, land use and population analysis, policy texts and interviews with planners to consider the narratives of rural planning for farmland protection in this region. Finally, I investigated how planning is performed, negotiated and discussed in this region, specifically in relation to understandings of agriculture, including its perseverance and productivity in the face of community and economic change. This insight enables conclusions about the need to address the defusion of collective representations of the peri-urban. Despite planners preferences for a doctrinal understanding of rural land use, in an era of increasingly hybrid and multi-functional place formation approaches to planning and community governance require success in creating shared narratives of land use futures.


Center or Department

College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce. School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Thesis type

  • Ph. D.

Awarding institution

La Trobe University

Year Awarded


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