Flexibility and Public Accountability in Public Land Development Projects in Progress
Vitnarae Kang and
Willem Korthals Altes
European Planning Studies, 2015, vol. 23, issue 8, 1609-1626
Local authorities have moved many entrepreneurial activities outside the direct control of the municipal council. This includes land development activities relating to planning policies which involve both private development and public infrastructure. Many studies have shown that positioning activities outside the control of elected bodies undermines public accountability. Less is known, however, about public accountability in contexts where entrepreneurial activities are still run by the local authority. This issue may be particularly relevant when it comes to projects that are already underway because entrepreneurial activities imply flexibility and the choices made as part of this flexibility also need to be justified. This paper is based on a study of five key projects in a single municipality, Midden-Delfland in the Rotterdam/The Hague metropolitan region in the Netherlands, and analyses how land development projects are organized within a local authority. It shows that while they are structured to allow for flexibility in the process, the level of public accountability is not ideal. The quality of arguments used and the way in which decisions are justified leave room for improvement, which might be promising because they are organized within the local authority.
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