Dilemmas

Urban development planning          


Model stories urban development planning

Urban development planning

The local council of a small coastal town published a tender for the development of an urban plan for the coming 20 to 30 years. Various groups of experts with differing points of view participated in the call, submitting different, and sometimes contradictory, proposals. The proposals received can be grouped into three main categories:

  • Intensive tourism development, which presupposes the large-scale construction of hotels, infrastructure developments, and large numbers of tourists.
  • Commercial power production from alternative sources based on the region’s favourable natural and geographical conditions (intensive sunlight and constant winds for most of the year), which make possible modern energy generation in line with international climate change agreements.
  • The preservation of the coastal fishing town’s authentic atmosphere, which would include an orientation towards balanced tourism development, the protection of the region’s biodiversity and cultural heritage, and the creation of new jobs for local residents.

The three options were presented for discussion at public hearings, with the participation of stakeholder representatives.

Discuss the possible conflicts and solutions, as well as the views of the different stakeholders. How do you think this problem can be solved?

Negative

Conflicting interests
  • The mass construction of tourism facilities will drastically change the appearance of the town and destroy its traditional way of life. Locals are worried that investors will construct mainly hotels, restaurants and roads, which will have a negative impact on the town’s drinking water supply, wastewater and household waste management infrastructure, and ultimately lead to environmental degradation and affect the quality of life of local residents. The influx of large numbers of tourists will make it impossible to preserve traditional livelihoods, such as fishing.
  • The commercial production of wind and solar energy requires large amounts of land. Local residents and environmentalists fear that the vibration and noise from wind turbines might damage nature and harm wildlife. Migrating birds are often to be found on the outskirts of the town, for example, and wind turbines would pose a threat to them. Solar panels would destroy the scenery and hinder the development of other commercial initiatives (such as agriculture and tourism).
  • Preserving the town’s traditions and appearance will not result in the much-desired development of the local economy. Instead, it is likely that the town will continue to be unattractive to members of the younger generation, who will migrate to the large cities.
Positive

Possible solutions
  • Intensive tourism development will contribute to the development of other connected branches of the economy and lead to the creation of considerable numbers of jobs.
  • The development of alternative energy sources will lead to an increase in the share of environmentally friendly energy used in commercial life, contributing to addressing global environmental problems such as carbon emissions and climate change.
  • Preserving the town's traditional image, orienting tourism towards nature conservation, supporting the local population and protecting cultural traditions will contribute to the development of small and medium-sized businesses and traditional crafts, and stimulate the organisation of social and cultural events.
  • Local residents can form cooperatives to provide services to tourists. They might run hotels, provide transport, supply food products, and lead excursions, for example. This will promote the development of tourism, while at the same time involving local residents and creating jobs.
  • Alternative energy sources might be developed by small, privately owned energy production facilities. Owners can provide electricity both for themselves and for tourists, while the surplus can be sold to the grid at a profitable green tariff.

Varying viewpoints


Local authorities
Local authorities are keen to boost the economy of the region and the town. A thriving economy means greater income for the municipal budget. The development of intensive tourism is therefore the most attractive option. On the other hand, the local authorities need the support of local residents, whose own preferences are not clear.

Business sector
Representatives of large companies (construction, tourism, catering) clearly prefer the first option and would like to see the development of intensive tourism. For them, the bigger the development, the greater the profits.

Representatives of local small and medium-sized businesses are less certain. On the one hand, the rapid development of tourism may stimulate their businesses. On the other, it is quite possible that big businesses will monopolise the market, and that local companies will not be able to compete.

Citizens
Local residents also find it difficult to evaluate the different options. Most would benefit from the creation of new jobs, which would also help to keep local young people in the town. On the other hand, environmental damage and a substantial change in the appearance of the town and its local traditions make many of them sceptical about the business potential. Overall, citizens would like to see greater transparency and more public discussion about all the positive and negative aspects of each of the three options.

Environmentalists
Environmentalists are divided. They believe that biodiversity, and the beauty of the environment, must be protected, but they are also tempted by the perspectives and benefits of alternative energy sources. As locals, who grew up in this small town, they would prefer to see the development of agriculture and environmentally friendly tourism.