Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Donnet, T & Keast, RL 2010, 'Beyond airport enclaves : insights for overcoming turf wars', 14th Annual Conference of the International Research Society for Public Management, University of Berne, Bern, Switzerland, 7-9 April, IRSPM.


Airports, over time, have emerged as separate independent entities often described as ‘enclaves’. As such airports regularly planned and implemented developments within their boundaries with limited inclusion of local actors in decision making processes. Urban encroachment on airport boundaries has increasingly focused the planning interests of airports to consider what their neighbouring cities are doing. Likewise city planners are progressively more interested in the development activities of airports. Despite shared interests in what happens on the either side of the fence line, relationships between airports and their neighbouring cities have often been strained, if not, at times, hostile. A number of strategies and conceptualisations for the co-existence of urban and airport environs have been put forward. However, these models are likely to have a limited effect unless they can be implemented to maximise opportunities for both cities and airports, and at the same time not confound their long-term interests. The isolation of airport planning from local and regional planning agencies, and the resulting power struggles are not new. Under current conditions the need to ‘bridge the gap’ between airports and their urban surrounds has become an increasing, yet under explored imperative.

This paper examines the decision making arena for airport-region development to define the barriers, enablers, tensions and puzzles for the governance of airport-region development, from a cross-country perspective. Findings suggest that while there are many embedded rule structures that foster airport-region tensions, there are nonetheless a number of pathways for moving airports beyond decision making enclaves, to more integrated mechanisms for city and regional planning.

In providing preliminary answers for overcoming the barriers, tensions and intractable issues of mutually agreeable airport and city development, the research makes a primary contribution to the ground level governance of collaborative planning. This research also serves as a launching point for future, more detailed research into the areas of airport-region decision making and collaborative planning for airport-regions. This work was carried out through the Airport Metropolis Research Project under the Australian Research Council’s Linkage Projects funding scheme (LP0775225).

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