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Public accountability in urban regeneration

The contemporary governance of cities is strongly influenced by market dependency and private sector involvement. In a new publication, my co-authors Rob Atkinson, Maria Lucia Refinetti Martins, and I focus on the fragmentation of public accountability through hybrid contractual landscapes of governance.

In hybrid contractual landscapes, public and private sector actors interactively produce a diversity of instruments to ensure performance in service. This situation, we argue, stands in sharp contrast to the traditional vague norms and values appealed to by urban planning institutions, to safeguard the public interest.

We illuminate how public accountability is produced by public and private sector actors, through highly diverse sets of contractual relations and diverse control instruments that define responsibilities of diverse actors who are involved in a project within a market-dependent planning and policy making environment. These complexities mean public accountability has become fragmented and largely reduced to performance control.

Furthermore, we demonstrate how public accountability is assuming a more ‘contractual’ and unpredictable meaning in policy and plan implementation process on the basis of comparative empirical evidence from The Netherlands, UK and Brazil. While context-specific institutional relations exist in these three countries, we are able to show how the creation of regulatory instruments that attempt to hold those involved accountable at multiple scales of governance makes overall public accountability difficult to enforce.

Full reference:

Taşan-Kok, T., R. Atkinson, and M. L. R. Martins (2020). Hybrid contractual landscapes of governance: Generation of fragmented regimes of public accountability through urban regeneration. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space.

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