The contribution of strategic spatial planning to the establishment of democratic governance structures

Thesis Type: Postgraduate

Institution Of The Thesis: Middle East Technical University, Faculty of Architecture, Department of City and Regional Planning, Turkey

Approval Date: 2008

Thesis Language: English

Student: Begüm Soysal



This thesis aims to search the contribution of strategic spatial planning to the establishment of democratic governance structures. Within this aim; it discusses strategic spatial planning with respect to its procedural and organizational characteristics and the notion of governance with respect to the issue of participatory democracy. Additionally; it argues that strategic spatial planning includes some conditions including that enhance the development of democratic governance. In doing these; it both covers a theoretical framework and a case study. In the theoretical framework; it encompasses the traditional and contemporary planning approaches in a comparative way and it studies the circumstances that have triggered the emergence of contemporary planning approaches by concentrating on the notions of democracy, participation and dialogue. The theoretical part also discusses the democracy models with respect to different participation patterns, the characteristics of strategic planning and different models of governance. Within these issues; on the theoretical ground, the study presents the components of strategic spatial planning, participation, dialogue and action which enhance the emergence of democratic governance mechanisms. In the case study part; Ankara Strategic Spatial Planning Experience is presented by an insider’s point of view by extracting the theory from within the practice. The case study assesses each phase of the planning process within a consideration of the notions of participation, dialogue and action and in the context of organizational structure, dialogical process and action plans. In addition to all; this study embraces action research approach since it has been the research methodology implemented in the case which has fostered the formation of democratic governance mechanisms. The study assesses strategic spatial planning as an interactive approach which challenges participatory democracy while contributing to the emerging governance structures in space. The theoretical research and the case study analysis shows that strategic spatial planning approach enhances the establishment of democratic organizational structures, dialogical processes and inter-institutional relations. Also, the application of a strategic spatial planning approach in Ankara Strategic Spatial Planning Process has triggered cooperation among different governmental and sectoral levels and different spatial scales. Additionally, it has reinforced the construction of social and political capacities of stakeholders. The participatory practice that strategic spatial planning has yielded has had an integrative effect for the organizational structure in space. In conclusion, as the result of broad participation and establishment of dialogical processes, Ankara strategic spatial planning process served as an integrating device for the development of inter-sectoral and inter-institutional relations within dialogue and collaboration among actors. Thereby, as a result of the theoretical research and the case study it is concluded that strategic spatial planning approaches are likely to foster the establishment of democratic governance structures. However; there are some local circumstances that may affect the strategic spatial planning processes to develop an effective organizational structure. The local circumstances including lack of participation culture, active citizenry, the bureaucratic structure, the existing political structure in the locality are some significant factors that affect the process. Hence; this thesis argues that strategic spatial planning processes embrace prominent conditions including; participation, dialogue and action that have an important affect on the formation of democratic governance structures. Nevertheless, the local circumstances have an important weight on the process and its expected results.