Municipalities as Enablers of Citizen-led Urban Initiatives : Possibilities and Constraints

University essay from KTH/Samhällsplanering och miljö


Municipal bottom-up urban development is growing into an increasingly common

urban practice. However, bottom-up urban development differs considerably from

conventional top-down planning. The discrepancy forms obstacles for the relationship

between top-down and bottom-up actors. Yet, creating an enabling relationship is

possible, although how it can be realized is rather underexamined. Therefore, the

aim of this research is to contribute knowledge to how municipalities can enable

citizen-led urban initiatives. Empirical research in Stockholm and Istanbul, based on

four examples of citizen-led urban initiatives and one municipal representative,

provided valuable insights. On the one hand, within the existing municipal framework,

certain possibilities and constraints for municipal bottom-up urban development arise.

However, aiming to creating a structural change that transforms the relationship, new

urban governance arrangements need to be established at the local level. From a

governance innovation perspective, implementing a neighborhood council and a

municipal guide form feasibly possibilities. Especially its combination is found key to

redeem most of the constraints while it has the potential to establish socially

innovative urban development.

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