Justifying planning decisions: Institutional response to planning objections in Israel

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This paper presents our study of current planning ethics and power-knowledge relations, mapping and analyzing the ethical frames used by institutional planners to justify their decisions in eight central and peripheral Israeli cities. While objections hearings are the main procedure for public participation in Israel, the planning committees are obligated to explain all their positive and negative decisions while explicitly regarding oppositions to new schemes. Studying these answers, we find how the very notion of public interest is defined and articulated in terms of economic, legal, architectural, social and environmental reasoning. Tracing the ethical rationales leading the discourse we also learn how planners conceive their own agency in current urban citizenship. We thus map the incremental justificatory notions by mutually analyzing procedural and substantial terms of distribution, participation, recognition, capability and responsibility. We focus on the following questions: 1. How is the public interest defined and shaped in the institutional response? Is there a set of hegemonic justifications in the planning institutional discourse? How does government perceive its responsibility to serve the public interest? What types of third-party rights or development prospects are often highlighted? 2. What variations are evidenced in the patterns of planning justification? Are there variations according to the geographic area or to the socio- spatial status of the objectors? Can we identify patterns of closeness and openness towards particular social groups or demands? 3. What can we learn about the level of discursive communicability in planning institutions? Do the planners present governmental positions or their own disciplinary frames?
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Definite Space – Fuzzy Responsibility, Prague, 13-16th July, 2015
Public interest, planning justification, urban citizenship, institutional planners, objections
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