Property Rights, Entrepreneurship and Transaction Costs
Edited by David Emanuel Andersson and Stefano Moroni
Chapter 13: The challenge of regulating private planning initiatives
Private planning initiatives produce an essential part of the built environment, and greatly impact the ever-changing spirit of cities and the urban mass. While such initiatives ultimately represent specific private interests, modern planning legitimacy rests on the idea that administrative interventions are essential for preserving wider public interests (Campbell and Marshall, 2002; Grant, 2005). Thus, in most countries, the public is represented by planning administrations embedded in local and central government. Such administrations are commissioned to define and protect the public interest, guide planning thought and evaluate private planning initiatives. As planning administrations are part of the public service, they are expected to represent the public and safeguard its essential interests. The definition of ‘the public’ in the urban sphere has changed substantially in the past decades, as national governments relinquished many public responsibilities previously taken by the welfare state. As municipalities took more public roles, they exhibited greater decision-making, financing and entrepreneurial activity for the public benefit (Fainstein 1991, 2000; Sassen, 1994; Jessop and Sum, 2000; Brenner and Theodore, 2005). Growing theoretical attention to urban politics was due to the creation of new frameworks for evaluating the performance of local governments and understanding municipal dynamics. Based on case studies of US cities–in particular Atlanta, Georgia (Stone, 1989) and Dallas, Texas (Elkin, 1987)–urban regime theory was articulated, providing a comprehensive look at local politics and the way public and private actors interact to affect urban affairs.
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