Reimagining Rural Planning Approaches

Convener: Andrew Grayson, Nottingham Trent University (

Abstract: This session is intended as an open forum to discuss and critically analyse planning approaches to rural areas, with a particular focus on sustainability and engaging with climate change. The planning system in England will be used as an initial basis of discussion but papers considering international perspectives are also encouraged.

It is proposed that the planning system in England, whilst subject to evolving debate and iterations of change, still largely rests today on the rural policy approaches adopted in the 1940s. These could be summarised as the implementation and protection of Green Belt land, the notion of a more agricultural-centric economy and a generally restrictive approach to rural development. This is underpinned in practice, not only by more idealised concepts of rurality, but also a wider idea that rural areas are inherently less sustainable and conceptually separate from than their urban counterparts.

Whilst a more protective approach is not necessarily socially or politically unpopular, it is suggested that this leads to a self-reinforcing ‘sustainability trap’ whereby the options available to rural communities, and possibly their potential, are inhibited. This is concerning in the context of rural social, economic and environmental change that perhaps require a more holistic planning approach. In particular, reframing rural-urban relationships and the potential of rural areas to contribute to improved sustainability, including climate change responses.

Papers from all levels of teaching, research and practice offering perspectives on the above are welcome. In particular, considering if there is a need to reimagine the narrative around rural planning and consider alternative approaches. The session is open to wide range of ideas. However, topics may include aspects of rural policy, planning, governance, communities, sustainability, climate change responses and land management in the context of planning.

Format: In person session with 15-minute papers and discussion. Please allow 10 minutes for your presentation and 5 minutes for questions.

Submission information: Please send your title, abstract (max. 250 words) and author details to Andrew Grayson, Nottingham Trent University ( by 13th March.