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Taking one for the team: Partisan alignment and planning outcomes in England

Posted on 25 March 2021

Liam Clegg's latest article

Liam Clegg

Liam Clegg explores the relationship between national party politics and local residential planning outcomes in his latest article 'Taking one for the team: Partisan alignment and planning outcomes in England' on The British Journal of Politics and International Relations.


Does partisan alignment affect sub-national political units’ performance? When testing for a partisan alignment effect, local authority planning processes represent a ‘hard case’. Formally, decision-making processes are insulated against political considerations, and there is a mis-match between national party commitments to expand house-building on the one hand, and pressure on local councillors from residents opposing new developments on the other. I find that, in general, partisan alignment brings an increased propensity to approve large residential planning applications. This suggests councillors’ willingness to ‘take one for the team’ by prioritising national over local interests. Consistent with ‘party politics of housing’ insights, inter-party variation sees an altered effect in left-wing constellations, which display lowered approval propensities. In addition to these substantive extensions to scholarship on partisan alignment effects, the insights presented into the drivers of variation in local authority planning outcomes contribute to the pressing tasks of understanding and addressing the chronic under-supply of new housing within the English housing system.