Debates on urban planning and governance give the impression that a shift of planning paradigms towards participatory and effective planning practices is over in Western European contexts, and increasingly rooted in post‐socialist countries. However, empirical research on the local level and its actors indicate important deficiencies and differences with regard to the scope and quality of planning paradigm change. This equally concerns cities in Western and Eastern Europe, which is not yet reflected in academic literature and public debates.
The project addresses this issue, and provides an interdisciplinary comparative analysis of local stakeholders’ specific urban planning concepts, including their relatedness to the centrally debated planning principles of participation and effectiveness. The concepts’ translation into real planning and decision‐making processes in Russia, Ukraine and Germany finally constitutes the project’s main research focus. Thus, the project strives to gain insight into the shift or persistence of local planning paradigms and their causes; and to reveal and reflect challenges and chances for participatory and effective planning processes in diverse European contexts.
Three main questions guide our research, which is funded by the VolkswagenStiftung:
- Scope and quality of paradigm shifts: What are the planning concepts of civil society, planning professionals, politicians, private economy and media, in particular with regard to the centrally debated principles of participation and effectiveness, and to what extent are they translated in planning processes, thus shaping already existing or new planning paradigms?
- Explaining shift and persistence: Why and how do local planning paradigms shift or persist? Which factors, in particular local, “internal” ones structure the direction and extent of change and persistence?
- Discovering challenges and chances for local and inter‐regional reflexivity: What are the conflicts as well as common grounds in terms of planning concepts and practices among local actors, which hinder or facilitate the implementation of participatory and effective urban planning? What are similar or different experiences in German, Russian and Ukrainian cities?
The project adopts a transnational comparative stance, which allows discussing the local embeddedness of shifting and/or persistent planning paradigms. By means of an analysis of recently finished and on-going public conflicts of urban development in Aachen (Germany), Perm (Russia) and Vinnytsia (Ukraine), the project identifies revealing local planning paradigms, that are contested, negotiated and / or maintained by the different local stakeholder groups.