Case 2012

Conference 12 & 13 October 2012 Lisbon

Privatization of planning powers and urban infrastructures

Throughout history there has always been a clear distinction in the city-making process between the role of the Administration as a planner and manager of public infrastructures and spaces and the role of private entities as property developers and builders.

Following a general economic trend on privatization of public functions, in recent years we have seen private entities assuming more complex responsibilities concerning the planning and management of our cities. Not only providing services of general interest like public transportation or the supply of electricity, water and sewerage, but also drafting zoning plans, controlling property development and creating and maintaining urban infrastructures and public spaces.

The question is how far privatization of planning powers and urban infrastructures can go due to the political nature of the decisions involved. And more specifically, how can planning laws contribute to achieve a balance between economic efficiency and democratic legitimacy in city planning and management.

1. Is there legislation concerning the initiative and/or the drafting of zoning plans and other equivalent documents by private entities? What is the procedure in that legislation and does it guarantee municipal control of planning powers? How is public participation organized in this procedure?

2. Is there legislation concerning the involvement of private entities in the control and enforcement of public zoning and building regulations? Are private entities only allowed to perform assessment tasks or can they issue development permits and take follow-up enforcement measures?

3. Is there legislation concerning the private management of urban infrastructures and public spaces? Is this legislation restricted to single infrastructures and spaces or does it provide a legal framework for the private management of entire neighborhoods and other urban areas? Is the management of those neighborhood and areas restricted to owners or neighbors associations or can concessionaires or other private commercial companies perform it? How does it guarantee municipal or public control of management decisions?

Lisbon, Claudio Monteiro, July 2012

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