Institutions, versus the real world: planning Greek metropolises in the crisis turmoil

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The paper suggests that in Greece (taking the example of Thessaloniki and Athens) the conceptualization of planning is related to the cycles of the economy, while at the same time it does not really observe planning regulations and laws. The complex, mazy and very detailed planning system is rigid and at the same time weak to protect itself from violations. The end result, the planning product, i.e. the cities, is facing a multitude of problems, due to these planning inadequacies and to the course the accumulation regime of the country has taken over the last years. Firstly, the paper draws from the example of Thessaloniki, highlighting the inadequacies of planning tools, budget estimations, social concern, and lack of realistic public consultation, with the end result of a city with stagnant infrastructure projects, poor peripheral communities and serious inner city issues. Secondly, it draws from the example of Athens which has lately become a dense and problematic city with uncontrollable, partly unauthorized, sub-urbanization and severe social problems in the Centre. In both cases, the perennial Greek planning weakness became evident, i.e. the controversial coexistence of physical planning and economic-social planning Community Support Framework style. Planning, being not cohesive and having embedded institutional pitfalls, has been proven to be inadequate to face the rapidly accumulating problems. A deeper understanding of this development calls for a complex answer to the problems, a kind of multi-tasking exercise, an integrative plan which would be strong enough to set the rules even for the City Master Plans. However, for this to happen the institutional environment has to be changed; to become effective it has to become simpler, more comprehensive and above all realistic.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Definite Space – Fuzzy Responsibility, Prague, 13-16th July, 2015
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