The Democratic Legitimacy of Urban Planning Procedures: Public private partnerships in Turin and Zurich
Title: The Democratic Legitimacy of Urban Planning Procedures: Public private partnerships in Turin and Zurich
Author: STRÖBELE, Maarit Felicitas
Series/Report no.: CIS Working Paper; 2009/45
Many European cities are faced with the task of transforming former industrial zones into new residential and commercial neighbourhoods. Such urban planning processes frequently include both public and private sector actors in decision making. Furthermore, they often give way to controversial public debates about the design and uses of the urban environment as well as the planning procedures. My paper examines democratic legitimacy of decision making in urban planning processes since the 1990s. Its aim is to contribute to the re- search on governance and democracy at the municipal level. The study consists of a qualitative comparison of two recent conversions of former industrial sites into new urban neighbourhoods in Zurich (Switzerland) and Turin (Italy). The theoretical approaches used in the study derive from fields of urban governance (e.g. Rhodes 1996, Stoker 1998) and democratic legitimisation of decision processes (Scharpf 1999, Sørensen and Torfing 2005, Skelcher 1998). The two cases of so-called public private partnerships show similarities in the decision making processes, notwithstanding different institutional contexts. The phases of planning and construction included citizen participation and deliberative instruments. However, neither the democratic legitimacy of the decision making processes nor of the actors involved was always assured. Consequently, non-classical means of civic political partici- pation (petitions, lobbying) were applied to influence planning decisions, especially where no institutional means for citizen involvement in urban planning such as local referendums were possible. The paper shows that the increase in civic participation and the problems with democratic legitimacy in governance processes are not only typical of this rather common problem in urban policy making; the two phenomena are connected to a more general change in many fields of local policy making which involves the participation of private companies as well as citizens.
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