Abstract. In this paper we seek to present a challenge to the normative prescriptive role of strategic urban planning practice. In effect, we challenge what has traditionally been regarded as the essence of strategic or `forward ' planning: the plan as a statement of what the city ought to become. Using Lacanian-inspired analysis we seek to understand how urban issues may be identified as metaphorical deficiencies or illnesses, to which planners apply a therapeutic salve in the form of strategic policies. Turning to the psychological utopianism of Ernst Bloch, a Freudian-inspired predecessor of Lacan, we suggest a way forward in Bloch's immanent transcendent conceptualisation of hope. We suggest replacement of the transcendent term `utopian ' by `utopic', as a practice which is critical, inclusive, and dynamic; performative rather than normative. ``The world was all before them, where to choose...'' Milton (1996 , page 313) ``Une sociëtë sans utopie se trouve dëja © sur le chemin de la mort'' [A society without utopia is already on the way to its deathöauthors ' translation] Paquot (2004, page 39
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