The impact of planning reform influences the sustainable urban development in regions and little is perhaps really understood about the way in which the initial phase of project procurement and in particular the development approval application stage has become increasingly problematic, particularly in the Australian property and construction industry. The findings of a research project which was aimed at investigating the policy, process and practice conflicts in achieving sustainable urban developments with a focus on the initial stages of project procurement are discussed. This interdisciplinary industry problem was explored by borrowing theoretical concepts from the discipline of social-psychology. A conceptual model was developed merging conflict and persuasion theory to develop an understanding of current practice in sustainable urban development approval process. A grounded theory approach was employed to investigate three case study regional local government areas (LGAs) which provided evidence to document the 'persuasion movement'. The findings highlighted a high level of inconsistency in the planning instruments between state, regional and local plans and policies resulting in increased potential for conflict and limited clear direction on how to resolve conflicts as they arise. Consequently, those involved in the development approval process utilise various persuasion tactics in the attempt to resolve conflicts because of the lack of time and limited resources to manage the increased complexity from the volume of regulations. The various tactics employed by those involved in the development approval system was examined against six identified strategies of persuasion. Analysis revealed that the new system is shifting the ground but may not address many of the underlying issues towards achieving sustainable urban development. The 'persuasion movement' is the antithesis of the philosophy underpinning the 1980 collaborative design and participatory consultative approaches. The development of a typology of persuasion strategies provides a method to critique various development approval models.
Journal of Construction Procurement Vol. 14, Issue 1, p. 18-34