TRENDS IN SPATIAL PLANNING IN RECONSTRUCTION PROCESSES
The goal of this project is to understand the key challenges and problems faced by the professional community of spatial planners in the time of war and reconstruction of Ukraine and to determine the potential for its consolidation to overcome them.
The qualitative part of the research was used to generate an online questionnaire with 43 respondents providing responses. The online questionnaire was published in relevant publics and urban-planning groups and it was available to the potential respondents from October 31 to November 14, 2023.
The research allows to look at the challenges faced by the planning community and assess their relevance within six types of interaction: “planner – planner”, “planner – customer”, “planner – donor”, “planner – Ministry”, “planner – international specialists”, “planner – the public”.
Challenges of the industry based on the results of the expert focus groups and interviews:
Collaboration between planners within the community:
● Planners treat each other with mistrust and this creates a toxic competitive environment within the community.● Higher-order documentation designers are not ready to transfer high-quality vector data to competitors drafting lower-level documentation.● There is little transfer of experience inside planning organizations due to internal competition between the employees.● There is a conflict raging between the schools of Urban Planning and Strategic Spatial Planning.● The profession lacks competence required to plan for the shrinking cities and population, which will be an issue during the reconstruction.● There is no discussion within the profession about the quality standards of spatial documentation or any sound criticism of unscrupulous planners.● There is no discussion within the profession about the exceedingly low cost of drafting spatial documentation or the need to oppose the dumping policy of unscrupulous planners.
Collaboration between planners and customers (local self-government and developers):
● Customers who commission spatial documentation provide meaningless ToR or nothing at all.● Customers are unable to provide high-quality input planning data. ● Customers fail to monitor the implementation of the decisions stipulated by spatial planning documentation.● Customers think in terms of election cycles (4–5 years) and can see no value in documentation developed for longer periods. ● Developers have too much leverage on the local self-government and this significantly affects the implementation of the decisions stipulated by spatial planning documentation.● Local self-government agencies are critically short of qualified personnel and this significantly affects the quality of designed spatial planning documentation.It is easier for local self-government agencies to work without designed spatial planning documentation.● This gives more opportunities for adopting corrupt decisions. ● Local self-government agencies do not work with vector data of spatial planning documentation, which leads to the loss of the latter.
Collaboration between planners and donors:
● Donors support the design of documents not provided for by the legislation of Ukraine.● Donors hardly support the development of higher education in the field of spatial planning.● Donors do not work with large state-owned planning institutions because of their ownership and this leads to a loss of institutional memory.● Donors support only the design of spatial planning documentation, without supporting the implementation of the planned decisions.● The very fact that there is a donor between the customer and the developer is a problem.● The developer will not build good relations with the customer, because s/he reports to the donor.● Donors usually fail to understand the procedures for drafting documentation and the working context, which results in failing to meet the development deadlines set by the legislation.● Donors usually do not plan to combine the work of Ukrainian and international designers of spatial planning documentation within one project.
Collaboration between planners, legislators and the executive branch of the government:
● The Ministry fails to fulfil the role of a flagship, providing guidance about the intended planning policy of the state.● There is no updated General Planning Scheme of Ukraine or at least a vision of the country’s development during the war, which devalues planning decisions adopted in the communities.● By-laws fail to keep up with the changing legislation.● The Ministry does not seek consensus with the planning community when updating the legislation.● Executive planners are not included in the communication with the Ministry (only the heads of organizations are).● The Ministry employs persons who have not independently drafted a single spatial planning document and have no understanding of how the policy, which they have drafted, works.● The Ministry has ruined the hierarchy of spatial planning documents: there is a confusion about the order, in which the documents should be drafted.● The Ministry has not provided the customers (the local self-government agencies) with a unified algorithm for collecting and providing the input data.● The system of spatial planning of Ukraine has not been comprehensively revised since Ukraine gained independence. Reforms are implemented in an extremely isolated way.● The Ministry has not designed a mechanism for monitoring the implementation of spatial documentation decisions. ● There is no state policy of punishment for violating the decisions stipulated by spatial planning documentation.● Spatial strategies (the Concept of Integrated Development and the Community Strategy) duplicate the content of urban planning documentation and are unnecessary.● Combining urban-planning and land-management documentation is a ticking time bomb, which will destroy the industry.● The time for documentation design is limited to one financial year, which is very insufficient.● The Ministry practises a “non-cooperative” corporate culture: it gives uncommitted replies and refuses to explain its position.
Collaboration between planners and international specialists:
● International specialists devalue the work of local planners.● Foreigners are not familiar with the context of Ukraine; they work superficially.● There are few reliable research articles written in a foreign language about Ukrainian practices and the school of spatial planning. Foreigners are unable to learn about our experience.● The difference in the meaning of the professional terms prevents complete understanding between Ukrainian and international planners. ● Foreign experts are usually brought to Ukraine to organize “training” instead of an “exchange of knowledge and approaches”. ● Collaboration with international planners is never on a par: they are the kingpins, we are second-class.● Foreigners are engaged when there is a need to set up investment-attractive projects. They fail to plan to provide for the basic needs of the population.
Interaction with the community (residents):
● Ensuring high-quality participation of local residents and NGOs at the stage of collecting the input data is neither envisaged by the procedure nor included in the budget for the planning documents design, and this fosters negative attitudes on the part of the public at the later stages.● Local self-government agencies are afraid to communicate with the public, and this reduces the representation of community interests in planning documents.● IDPs are hardly even engaged in drafting spatial planning documents, therefore their interests are poorly represented there.● Planners have little communication with non-governmental organizations and poorly understand the specifics of their work, which leads to conflicts between them.
This publication is supported by the Heinrich Böll Foundation [Heinrich Böll Stiftung] Kyiv, Ukraine