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Abstract: Over the last decade, degrowth has offered a concrete alternative to eco-modernization, projecting a society emancipated from the environmentally destructive imperative of competition and consumption. Urban development is the motor of economic growth; cities are therefore prime sites of intervention for degrowth activists. Nevertheless, the planning processes that drive urban development have yet to be questioned from a degrowth perspective. To clear a path for a degrowth urban agenda, this paper rethinks the institutions governing urban development in growth-dependent contemporary economies. It starts by problematizing the regional territorialization of economic competition, ideology of land scarcity, and institution of zoned property rights, which together make urban development an engine of growth. It then outlines three transitions toward urban degrowth, arguing for a regional imaginary of polycentric autonomism, a paradigm of finity in development, and care for habitability as principle of spatial organization.

Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, January 2021