Towards Collaborative Governance

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Integral analysis of spatial development: Five case studies

The project’s research component aims at promoting integral approach to spatial development. This implies a departure from the traditionally conceived area of planning as a technical activity of preparation of plans, mainly focused on the physical aspects of spatial development.

Urban development encompasses a whole range of decisions made at different levels and sectors of government. If they are made simultaneously and in unsynchronized procedures, they inevitably result in problems regarding spatial development. To understand the processes of development of a city, one has to observe them in an integral manner.

An integral view of the process of spatial development is illustrated through five characteristic examples of construction in Belgrade.  Apart from the chronological aspect of the process of creating planning documentation – the traditional planning process – various other events are taken into account, starting with the direct importance for the given example of construction:

  • legislation – changes in the legal framework
  • other changes of importance for the location
  • reactions from citizens
  • spatial manifestations

The chronological representation of collected information, structured according to the given categories, offers insight into the mutual dependence of decisions and consequentially, the changes towards spatial development. At the same time, insight is enabled into the structure of participants and their position in relation to the decisions made.

Case Studies

Each of the researched cases sheds light on at least one specific important topic for managing the development of the city (Belgrade), but cases have confirmed some weaknesses of the system:

The case studies “Friendship Park – Ušće” and “Makiš” illustrate the process of planning and development of mutually different but very significant spatial wholes which are under special protection programs. The first case relates to one of the most important public green spaces in Belgrade, under special protection as part of the Riverbank zone of New Belgrade. The second case relates to an area under a special protection program for preserving water springs, as one of the most elements of Belgrade’s water supply. Their importance has required that the processes of their planning and development be carefully designed – with an emphasis on transparency, inclusiveness, openness, as well as being in accordance with the latest knowledge about climate change, environmental protection etc. However, it is precisely the opposite case, the case of the “Friendship Park – Ušće” illustrates the belatedness of planned procedures for development processes, making plans for even central and most important and protected city zones a tool for legalization and pro forma documents, and the case of “Makiš” illustrates the collision of two opposing developmental positions – narrowing the zone of sanitary protection and intensive urbanization of that area, as opposed to intensifying relying on this water spring and the rise of investments in plants for processing water.

The case studies “Friendship Park” and “Vinča” illustrate the introduction of new, informal instruments formulated in non-transparent and parallel with planned procedures, and as such far from the reach and the influence of the public. The first case is about the process of establishing a formal planned solution on a spatial development strategy of the “People’s Park” at Ušće, developed by the architectural bureau GEHL form Copenhagen. Non-transparent procedures for electing architects are also unclear, as well as, more importantly, the content, authors and the method of formulating programs based on which the team developed a solution. In the second case, the choice of technological solutions for handling and discarding of communal waste was, in the process of establishing a public-private partnership, left to potential private partners, in spite of the existence of official strategic documents and valid urbanist plans which prescribe the application of other, cleaner technologies. This has given the private partner, who in a parallel and regular procedure received the status of privileged energy producer, an additional position at the expense of public health, the environment and environmental protection.

The case studies “Voždove kapije” and “Stepa Stepanović” represent an illustration of the consequences of inconsistencies and introducing changes during the development of residential buildings, and their influence on the quality of life and the values of real estate of existing occupants. Both studies call for the reconsideration of the way acquired and contractual rights of the newly built apartments should be interpreted, because the current interpretation of their legal (in)security has produced different types of conflicts between opposing parties, form protests and the use of force, to ending up in court.

Apart from that, the “Voždove kapije” study is an illustration of residential development as an effective mechanism of reproduction and expansion of capital, and the introduction of the concept of a condominium, as an open model for utilization, ownership, governance, and maintaining residential complexes. On the other hand, “Stepa Stepanović”illustrates the rehabilitation of the role of the public sector in the construction of large residential complexes, which are completely or partially financed from public funds (in this case the state budget) with the introduction of various instruments for subsidizing purchases with the aim of making housing more affordable.

All case studies indicate the problems of rapid and mutually uncoordinated changes of different laws and their by-laws, but also city regulations and planned documents; a parallel implementation of several mutually independent governance and planning processes; an existence of a large number of institutions of unclear of overlapping jurisdictions; a rise in non-transparency and a lack of opportunities for accessing relevant documents, important for understanding the case.

Defining and defending the public interest: Integral analysis of three case studies

Research titled „Defining and defending the public interest“ is a component of the second phase of the project „Towards collaborative governance – Interactive urbanism“. Thematically and content-wise it responds to the results of the research from the first phase of the project, where processes of spatial development of five characteristic examples in Belgrade were analyzed in an integral manner.

In the first phase of the project, research aimed at promoting the concept of management of urban development – planning positioned within the wider context of making decisions about spatial interventions. Points of conflict in each of the five analyzed examples were identified. In addition to deficiency and weaknesses of the planning system, they illuminate the conflicts of differing interests of the concerned stakeholders. Thus they clearly indicate the lack of consensus in the society concerning the directions of development, and absence of clear development policies. Implicitly, absence of socially articulated public interest which should represent the foundation of all public policies was also suggested.

Accordingly, research in the second phase of the project aimed at questioning the concept of public interest, how it is defined and institutionalized on various levels of development management. Three case studies from the first phase: Makiško polje, „Stepa Stepanović“ settlement and residential block „Voždove kapije“ were selected for research purposes. Each case study problematized a characteristic theme of development, with a view to advancing our understanding of interpretation of public interest in the planning process, through two key aspects:

  • Origins and interpretation of the concept of public interest: an overview of the legal and urban planning frameworks in the specific case
  • Interpretation of plans: understanding how public interest is interpreted and subsequently treated in the specific planning procedures and solutions.

In the selected case studies, research aimed towards understanding and reexamining the following issues:

  • Makiško polje: water source. How and on what grounds a water source territory is being defined? Who is responsible for management of water sources? How is a water source protected and used? In this case, how are decisions on changes of territory and regimes of protection specifically made?
  • „Stepa Stepanović“ settlement: Urban regulations and public use. How and on what grounds urban planning norms are being defined? Who is responsible for their articulation? In this case, which are the methods for establishing and assessing the needs for social infrastructure in a settlement (the scale of needed infrastructure)?
  • Residential block „Voždove kapije“: Urban planning norms and respect of ownership rights

How and on what grounds urban planning norms are being defined? Who is responsible for their articulation? How, in this case, do urban planning solutions affect quality of life and property value?

Research diagrams

Integral approach to research of case studies of development in Belgrade is an analytical method for a comprehensive overview of the processes of transformation of a given space. It focuses on tracing the formal courses of decision-making, communicated through public policies – adopted at various levels of management and various sectors of public administration. All public policy documents with a direct or indirect impact on the transformations of the observed area were closely analyzed. In addition to planning documents this included laws, bylaws, strategies, development programs, projects, studies, agreements, resolutions etc. The analysis focused on the contents of these documents. However, institutions which participate in the process of creating and adopting public policies were also taken into consideration.

The phases of the research were closely connected with a specific case of construction under scrutiny, as there is no single formula for the research process. The starting points for the analysis include an overview of the formal planning process and interpretation of the contents of the planning documents. Further research steps include all the other public policies which affect the contents of the planning documents. Their reach is closely connected with the spatial issue addressed by the planning solution and the character of the planned construction. Accordingly, analysis of each case of construction follows a specific research trajectory.

Diversity of the research procedures is illustrated by three diagrams relating to the previously presented cases of construction, and they disclose the complexity of those processes. At the same time, the diagrams serve as instructions for research, indicating the possible trajectories, numerous sources and diverse ways of understanding the issue at hand.

The diagram of the process of research of Makiško polje demonstrates that integral observation and understanding of spatial development implies distancing from the traditionally conceived area of planning as a technical activity of preparation of plans. Namely, the process of urban development encompasses a wide range of decisions made at different levels and in different sectors of government. The diagram of the research process in the case study of the residential area „Stepa Stepanović“ illustrates the integral approach to research of public policies relevant for planned spatial transformations. It points to different categories of sources which are possible and necessary to take into account in the analysis of the case study. It also indicates the type of information revealed by specific sources. The diagram illustrates the complexity of integral observation and understanding of the processes of spatial development, the necessity of using different categories of sources and combining large quantities of thus acquired information in order to gain comprehensive insight into and understanding of urban planning processes.

The diagram of the research process in the case of the residential and business complex „Voždove kapije“ illustrates an integral approach to public policies in the domain of formal planning systems. The diagram points to various publicly available tools which may give us directions in establishing the planning basis in analyzing a specific case study, and illustrates the steps of that research process.