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

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JournalBritish Journal of Politics and International Relations
DateAccepted/In press - 25 Nov 2020
Original languageEnglish


Does partisan alignment affect sub-national political units’ performance? When testing for a partisan alignment effect local authority planning processes represent a ‘hard case’, given procedural insulation against politicisation, and a disjuncture between national party commitments to expand house-building versus pressure on local councillors from residents opposing new developments. 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.

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