This opening chapter for the book will begin with an exposition of the book objectives and structure. It will then move to brief discussions of the three primal notions, which constitute the basis for this book: information, virtual spatial mobility, and connectivity.
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In 1843, the British colonial government in Hong Kong designated the northern coast of Hong Kong Island as the City of Victoria. Hindered by natural resource shortages and a poor natural environment, the government had to make use of new construction techniques and infrastructure to solve daily life problems, which included housing, transport facilities, water supply, law and order and public hygiene. The city was managed with two completely differently strategies. The Central District was mainly modelled on what was practised in the West. Commercial activities and trade were conducted in a systematic manner, and the enactment and strict enforcement of laws were key to the implementation of policies. However, the densely populated area of Sheung Wan, located in the western part of the city and inhabited by the Chinese community, was blighted by poor housing and hygiene conditions as well as high crime rates.
If we want to address landscape democracy, we need an awareness of the different frames for understanding democratic legitimacy as developed and discussed in political theory. This chapter is about the place of civil society in different contemporary approaches to democracy and the consequences this creates for democratic planning. After presenting four ideal typical approaches to democracy – the liberal, participatory, deliberative and radical – the place of civil society in a generic planning process is discussed. The claim is made that although planning processes that follow a liberal democratic framework may qualify as democratic at a theoretical level, the understanding of a landscape as ‘an area, as perceived by people’ implies a necessity to include elements of participatory, deliberative and possibly radical democracy to gain democratic legitimacy. The chapter concludes by pointing to possible measures public planners may take to enhance democratic planning.