Architecture, Building and Planning - Theses

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    Transforming spatial governance High-speed rail planning and the regional integration of Hume
    Whitten, James Andrew ( 2023-09)
    Australian governments and private consortiums have been planning high-speed rail since the 1980s by studying different corridor options and railway technologies to connect major cities along the eastern seaboard. Despite the introduction of government policies to promote land use and transport integration, recent proposals for intercity high-speed rail have obtained weak connectivity between station infrastructure and regional settlement systems. In Australia, justification for weak connectivity is typically based on a combination of transport planning and urban design considerations that are said to hinder integration between regional stations and established urban areas. However, recent studies of high-speed rail development overseas suggest that the problem instead has its origins in national systems of multilevel governance. This research takes the Hume Region in northeast Victoria as an illuminative case study to understand the influence of high-speed rail planning on regional governance in Australia between 2008 and 2017. A spatial governance perspective is used to explore the in-between spaces of state planning that embed infrastructure projects into regions to promote their economic and political integration. The conceptual framework draws on Raco’s (2005) understanding of regional integration as a political process that reconfigures power relations and gives rise to hybrid institutional forms. A mix of research methods, including geographic analyses of three high-speed rail proposals and qualitative analyses of interviews with national and regional actors (n=64), government policies and media reports, showed that high-speed rail planning is connected to processes of regional integration by its potential to restructure settlement systems and embed new institutional and political structures into non-metropolitan regions. The research found that regional institutions in Hume coevolved with the institutional structures that governed high-speed rail planning in Australia. This convergence between national and regional-level structures can be explained by the top-down nature of infrastructure planning and regional policy. However, the analysis identified ground-up moments of institutional reform that indicate greater reflexivity between territorial levels than is typically acknowledged in the domestic planning literature. In the case of high-speed rail planning in Hume, institutional reforms were instigated by localised struggles against the partisan structures that govern public investment in critical infrastructure. It remains to be seen if newly empowered regional actors highlighted in the research can secure broad-based outcomes from high-speed rail development because they lack the planning authority and fiscal resources needed to implement integrated planning solutions. In Australia, the forms of regional integration engendered by high-speed rail planning have limited potential to promote sustainable development outcomes in non-metropolitan regions because the strategic goals of the state and powerful non-state actors are privileged over the planning goals and development needs of regional communities. Consequently, high-speed rail planning is transforming spatial governance by reproducing national corporatist structures in non-metropolitan regions. These structures, however, do not engender a regionally integrated approach to spatial planning.
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    Aged care services and locational disadvantage in Melbourne
    Walker, Katherine. (University of Melbourne, 2003)
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    City agency in an urban age: a multiscalar study of migration city diplomacy
    Pejic, Daniel Scott ( 2023-09)
    Over the previous two decades city governments have substantially expanded international engagement efforts, reflective of their potential to address major global challenges such as climate change, migration and even pandemics. This ‘city diplomacy’ encompasses a range of ways that cities are working individually and through formal transnational networks to become influencers of global agendas, as opposed to just implementors of national policy. Whilst there is broad academic consensus that city diplomacy is having at least some impact in international politics, the discipline of international relations (IR) has struggled to place cities conceptually in the milieu of international actors. Questions abound but answers do not. Are they non-state entities akin to NGOs and civil organisations, or unique socio-political units that require bespoke theorising to be understood? Are they coalitions of actors? Or is city agency on the global stage a function of mayoral priorities? In this thesis, carried out at the University of Melbourne via publication, I address the research gap related to the construction, sustainment and operation of ‘city agency’ on an international stage. This places my thesis between International Relations (IR) theory and urban studies and explicitly aims to strengthen their connection via a focus on urban politics. I do so by bringing together a sequence of published scholarly interventions into a cohesive study narrative. I firstly advance understanding of city agency by theorising that local governments and other urban actors are now operating in a context of ‘global urban governance’ wherein the governance of urban challenges has become infeasible without consideration of their global dimensions. Drawing from theories of group agency in political science and analytic philosophy, as well as collective urban governance in urban studies, I encourage the reader to look not only at local governments but also other urban actors who shape city agency. To explore these dynamics in action, the thesis presents findings from a multiscalar case study application of this theorisation, in which I analyse the emerging role of cities as actors in global migration governance. Migration has become an increasingly important domain for city diplomacy as the bulk of international migrants reside in cities and responsibilities for supporting these populations have increasingly been devolved to local governments. At the global scale, I explore the impact that cities have had collectively on global migration governance, demonstrating a causal link between migration city diplomacy and changes in global migration governance that have prioritised urban settlements. At the city scale, I analyse the way the migration city diplomacy of two internationally recognised cities in this domain, Bristol, UK and Montreal, Canada, has been shaped by the strong history of migrant inclusion from a range of actors within these cities. This is the first study to examine the link between local migration governance and migration city diplomacy at the international level. Finally, at the national scale, I highlight the importance of central–local relations and the underexplored link between city diplomacy and national foreign policy, drawing on the examples from the United Kingdom and Canada, but also other comparable contexts. Here I introduce models of the national governance of city diplomacy with relevance for migration policy and broader international efforts. This multiscalar view offers a new set of theoretical and empirical lenses through which IR and also urban studies scholars can understand the role of cities in global governance. A more enriched understanding of the type of international agent that cities represent offers new opportunities to study the tangible impacts of their international engagements. Through the case studies examined here, this thesis provides novel empirical insight into the emerging role of cities in global migration governance and uniquely links this city diplomacy with local dynamics. In the emerging context of ‘global urban governance’, where cities must increasingly work internationally and international actors must attend to the urban scale, the interplay between these scalar dynamics will shape the governance of major global challenges this century and likely beyond.
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    Reimagining Climate Urban Comparison Through A ‘More Global’ Urban Science
    Mokhles, Sombol ( 2023-12)
    Cities, as pre-eminent hubs of human activity, are one of the key frontrunners in tackling the climate crisis. As this recognition of the urban condition, we live in has become more and more widespread, interest in using ‘urban science’ to better understand cities has surged and has been widely applied to accelerate urban climate action. One of the growingly popular approaches in urban science is comparing cities based on extensive data sets, which this thesis terms ‘comparative urban science’. Comparative urban science is now commonly used by scholars and practitioners in urban climate governance to understand cities and accelerate their climate actions. Yet, this has to date incurred into two specific gaps of comparative urban science in urban climate governance that this thesis aims to redress. Firstly, large-scale studies, which primarily focus on quantitative and performance-based factors, often fail to comprehensively understand the diverse range of factors influencing cities’ climate actions. Secondly, these studies tend to reinforce city hierarchies and focus disproportionately on few often well-resourced, ‘global’ according to some, cities. These two limitations result in a biased understanding of smaller cities, perceived to be without global city status, especially in the Global South. This is doubly problematic as these more ‘intermediate’ cities are also, and in many cases principally, shaping the direction of urbanisation, and limited knowledge of these cities can be a critical gap and a missed opportunity for tackling climate change. The thesis proposes de-centring comparative urban science by incorporating a ‘more global’ urban comparison that strives to move beyond hierarchical comparisons based on size and economic status, connecting postcolonial critiques in urban studies to the development of urban science. The thesis aims to offer a bridging contribution across urban studies, particularly linking urban climate governance, comparative urbanism, and urban science approaches that at times have been at odds. Therefore, the main research question is, “To what extent can a ‘more global’ urban comparison be incorporated in comparative urban science to offer insights for research and practice in urban climate governance?”. The thesis deploys a mixed-method approach that combines quantitative and qualitative methods in three methodological steps. The first step includes two comparative approaches: one that is factor-based and one that is an action-based comparison. A range of factors are identified through a literature review to expand knowledge of diverse factors influencing climate actions for the factor-based comparison. The action-based comparison then builds on K-means clustering analysis of cities’ governance aspects of their reported mitigation actions (nature and finance-implementation) to identify distinct patterns of cities. In the second step, statistical tests of association examine the relationship between the identified factors and patterns and test if the clusters expand knowledge of diverse cities. Finally, in the third step of the thesis, a focus group discussion with climate city network experts is used to explore the practical application of these research findings. The thesis demonstrates the potential of a ‘more global’ and more explicitly relational approach using non-hierarchical K-means clustering as a pattern recognition method, expanding knowledge about diverse cities, as investigated in action-based comparison. Five clusters are identified based on mitigation actions’ nature and five based on finance-implementation. Importantly, this thesis finds no significant association between these clusters and cities’ population size and global city status. The findings highlight the need to move beyond simplistic quantitative measures and challenge the notion that population size and global city status determine cities’ climate action. Cities’ finance-implementation pattern is not found to be associated with most factors, denoting that cities implement their mitigation actions regardless of their national political economy, vulnerability to climate change, and perception of risk. Moreover, the thesis demonstrates that factors such as region, country-level GDP per capita, corruption index, cities’ climate responsibility, and vulnerability to climate change only partially explain some of the clusters of nature of actions. Overall, the thesis offers a novel approach to comparative urban science, providing valuable insights and seeking to contribute to a more inclusive and more effective evidence-based urban climate governance. It argues for collective climate action across diverse cities and calls for reimagining existing climate networking practices. Furthermore, the thesis illustrates how the conceptual framework of this thesis based on incorporating a ‘more global’ urban comparison into a relational approach to urban science could be applied, opening potential engagement into other research areas beyond climate to deepen our understanding of a greater diversity of cities when deploying urban science approaches. In conclusion, this thesis emphasises the need to move beyond simplistic measures and hierarchical comparisons, empowering cities to address climate change collectively.
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    Managing the planning and implementation of greenways from top-down in the Central Zhejiang City-Region, China: who is in charge?
    Chen, Junxian ( 2023-11)
    In 2010, China introduced the modern greenway concept, envisioning regional-scale greenway networks that serve multiple functions. The objectives were twofold: to alleviate the scarcity of urban green spaces without encroaching on land designated for development, and to strengthen the rural-urban physical and functional connections within city-regions. The planning and implementation of greenways at such a grand scale involves a diverse array of actors and a web of institutions. Given that China’s authoritative governance system is characterised by top-down decision-making along with the institutional complexities, it is important to understand who is in charge in Chinese regional greenway development. By integrating insights from institutional theories and organisational theories, this study develops a conceptual framework to examine the interactions between actors, institutions, organisational characters and resulting greenway outcomes. The Central Zhejiang City-Region, with its two successive greenway stages, was selected as the case study area. Data were gathered through thirty-nine semi-structured interviews, government documents, site observation, and spatial information from various sources. The main findings show that the regional government played a central role in regional greenway planning. However, its influence waned during the implementation phase since county governments dominated greenway projects as the capital suppliers, regulators and implementers. While the planning process was open to planning institutes, external consultants, and greenway user representatives, their presence mainly served to justify the aspirations of governmental actors. SOEs and sitting tenants were empowered to engage in the implementation process due to their access to funding or land resources for greenway construction. Nevertheless, their participation took place in the “shadow of hierarchy”, with the state taking a lead. Given that modern greenway was a new concept, greenway actors were inevitably confronted with existing regulative, normative and cultural-cognitive institutions, which raised transaction costs and posed constraints to greenway development. These institutional constraints were compounded by political pressures from the region and political leaders, driving actors to take strategic actions to develop greenways within a narrow timeframe. The key organisational actors, Local Greenway Coordination Offices (LGCOs), were also restructured to be more powerful, double-hatted, cross-agency and inclusive in order to overcome such institutional constraints. As reflected in the greenway outcomes, the Central Zhejiang Greenway Project does not appear to be an ongoing initiative that considers the long-term social and ecological consequences. Rather, it is treated as a political mission driven by campaign-style governance. The challenge still lies in establishing a complete set of supportive institutions and effectively enforcing them to safeguard the enduring value and sustainability of greenways for both communities and the natural environment. The findings from this study shed light on the complex institutional process underlying regional greenway development and its impacts on the urban and rural landscape.