YENI ISTANBUL: A SYSTEM OF INFRASTRUCTURE MEGAPROJECTS an assessment of the dimensions of the new megaprojects in global cities situated at the periphery of Western capitalist economies from a governance and planning process perspective: the case study of ISTANBUL AIRPORT - Turkey

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Submission Summary
Total global infrastructure megaproject spending values $ 6-9 trillion annually, or 8 % of the world’s GDP, which stands for the biggest investment numbers reached in human history. Therefore, systematic and accurate knowledge about this type of megaprojects is necessary to inform policy and practice. It is argued that the traditional way of managing these projects is challenged and reform is on its way (Flyvbjerg, 2011). The overall research goal is to contribute to the more general, theoretical contention on the new emerging infrastructure megaprojects that enable the expansion of global cities, in locations situated at the periphery of West-capitalist economies, in understanding them through the concepts of governance and planning process. The article tackles dimensions of megaproject planning in Istanbul, Turkey, by studying the city’s expansion to the north with its newest infrastructure project, Istanbul Airport. The aim is to assess to which extend the top-down, but also bottom-up governance forms influence the planning process and outcomes of the project, providing future policy recommendations. The theoretical framework that underpins this research is derived from the discourse on new forms of urban governance including private, public, and civic actors that influence planning processes and outcomes of megaprojects. Analytical tools of the research include: decision-making process, the legal framework, actors, their relations, and discourse analysis. The literature review provides an overview of the phenomenon of the new megaproject development, its characteristics and main shortcomings, impacts, and risks. Before analyzing the original case study of the research, a statistical exploration of a sample of 150 infrastructure megaprojects is done with the scope of forming a grounded theoretical foundation. Both primary and secondary data were collected through: literature review, review of documents, plans, and laws, articles from media, 20 interviews, 40 questionnaires, and a workshop, observation, and an internship, made by the author at Istanbul Metropolitan Planning office. To understand the planning processes of the Istanbul Airport megaproject, a reflection is done on Istanbul’s urban transformation policies and the institutional framework at the city and national level that facilitate them. In conclusion, the new wave of megaprojects at the periphery of capitalist economies seem not so different from the western examples, implemented through sudden, top-down decisions that do not sufficiently account for environmental protection or consultations with citizens, but successfully surpass their main concern in the literature review, considering the performance dimension: the cost overruns and time delays. It was found that Istanbul Airport is a hybrid megaproject with a good performance, on time and on budget, but with a top-down approach to planning, lacking transparency, accountability, participation, and good quality information in its planning process, leading to uneven territorial development and uneven allocation of resources, social conflicts, urban sprawl, and environmental distortion. Although it is developed through a PPP, the leading factors behind are an entrepreneurial central government and also a national policy on urban transformations that takes megaprojects out of the traditional institutional planning system. The article argues that only through a change of a more inclusive planning approach, along with targets of improvement on the policy level and its integration into the traditional institutional planning system, into bigger scale plans, the megaproject will be able to escape the current deadlocks and collisions between government, investors and resistance, and might have a chance to actually set an urgently needed precedent of new planning culture in Istanbul. Lastly, the research proposes a desirable planning process model for the new megaprojects, situated at the periphery of West-capitalist economies.
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3: Planning for Urban Connectivity
Senior urban planner, EU projects- project manager, lecturer
Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urban Planning & Urbasofia