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Roland Lรกposi H00143350

A dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of MSc in Real Estate and Planning

Dissertation supervisor: Chris McWilliams

Heriot-Watt University School of the Built Environment

December 2014


I hereby confirm that this dissertation is my own work. ___________________________




Declaration I Roland Láposi, confirm that this work submitted for assessment is my own and is expressed in my own words. Any uses made within it of the works of other authors in any form (e.g. ideas, equations, figures, text, tables, programmes) are properly acknowledged at the point of their use. A full list of the references employed has been included. Signed:





Table of Contents Declaration ____________________________________________________________ i Table of Contents ______________________________________________________ ii List of tables and figures _________________________________________________ iv Acknowledgements _____________________________________________________ v Abstract ______________________________________________________________ vi Abbreviations ________________________________________________________ vii 1.



Introduction _______________________________________________________ 1 1.1.

Context _______________________________________________________ 1


Research proposition ____________________________________________ 3


Research objectives _____________________________________________ 3


Structure of the study ____________________________________________ 3


Specialism ____________________________________________________ 4

Making the case for Budapest _________________________________________ 5 2.1.

Planning in Hungary – a short introduction ___________________________ 5


Urban planning then... ___________________________________________ 6


...And urban planning now ________________________________________ 6


Relation of urban planning to development ___________________________ 8


Stakeholder involvement and partnerships____________________________ 9


Introducing the Budapest Agglomeration ___________________________ 10


Sand in the machinery –the forces of urbanisation ____________________ 12


Planning system’s response to metropolisation _______________________ 16


Conclusions on the Budapest Agglomeration planning _________________ 23

Research Methodology _____________________________________________ 26 3.1.

Research Design _______________________________________________ 26


Applied research methods _______________________________________ 27


Interviews ____________________________________________________ 27


Internet-survey ________________________________________________ 29 ii

3.5. 4.



Case studies __________________________________________________ 31

Rise of the City-regions: the evolution of a planning concept _______________ 32 4.1.

The economic rationale of looking beyond boundaries _________________ 32


The forefathers: Howard, Geddes and Abercrombie ___________________ 34


Changing nature of metropolitan planning ___________________________ 37


Comparing planning in different city-regions ________________________ 38


Conclusions __________________________________________________ 41

Interviews and the internet survey ____________________________________ 43 5.1.

The interviews ________________________________________________ 43


The internet questionnaire _______________________________________ 45


Conclusions __________________________________________________ 47

Conclusions and recommendations ____________________________________ 48 6.1.

Conclusions __________________________________________________ 48


Recommendations _____________________________________________ 49


Limitations ___________________________________________________ 51

References ___________________________________________________________ 52 Appendix 1 – The Research Plan _________________________________________ 61 Appendix 2 – The Guidebook: Key Topics _________________________________ 62 Appendix 3 – The Guidebook: interview participant list _______________________ 68 Appendix 4 – The Guidebook: Data protection disclaimer _____________________ 69 Appendix 5 – Internet Survey Questionnaire ________________________________ 70 Appendix 6 – Internet Survey Result ______________________________________ 77 Appendix 7 – Key decision makers in the Budapest Agglomeration ______________ 82


List of tables and figures Tables Table 1 Comparison of Scottish and Hungarian Planning ................................................ 8 Table 2 Territorial levels around Budapest ..................................................................... 10 Table 3 Governance structures and challenges ............................................................... 39 Table 4 Comparing European metropolises .................................................................... 40

Figures Figure 1 Examples of local structure and regulation plans ............................................... 7 Figure 2 - Statistical city-regions in Hungary ................................................................. 10 Figure 3 Expansion of the administrative area of the agglomeration ............................. 12 Figure 4 Trends in a) Migration and b) Housing prices .................................................. 13 Figure 5 Migration by age groups of main householders ............................................... 13 Figure 6 Tópark development and Törökbálint ’s urban fabric ...................................... 15 Figure 7 Social, quality of life and economic trends in 2001-2011 ................................ 16 Figure 8 Mapping the Budapest city-region.................................................................... 17 Figure 9 Shifting city-regions ......................................................................................... 22 Figure 10 Governance and planning issues in the Budapest Agglomeration ................. 24 Figure 11 City-region scales ........................................................................................... 25 Figure 12 Planning the research ...................................................................................... 26 Figure 13 Von Thünen (a) and Alonso (b) ...................................................................... 33 Figure 14 Model of the Social City ................................................................................. 34 Figure 15 The Valley Section model depicting the city-region ...................................... 35 Figure 16 Abercrombie's Greater London Plan 1944 ..................................................... 36 Figure 17 Evolution of the concept of planning as Spatial and Strategic activity .......... 37


Acknowledgements Years ago I have embarked on a long journey abroad to seek out what the World can offer. I was eager to know more about new perspectives, universally applicable principles here and yonder, which I can carry within wherever I go. Here, I wish to express my gratitude to the many helping me along the way: Sarah McIntosh, Gábor Soóki-Tóth and Tamás Lukovich for encouraging an explanner night porter to fulfil his dreams and giving confidence for the following years; Chris McWilliams, for taking on all my follies on the documentary about metropolitan planning in Budapest, which in time evolved into this dissertation under his kind and critical supervision and guidance; Péter Gauder, to be my master and helping to build my own “compass” to find ways on uncharted waves of life; Mátyás Hübner, for not overlooking the disguised potential in the young planner and welcoming to his circle of disciples; László Zsigmond, Viktor Harangozó, Andrea Rácz and Gergő Márton, for their invaluable help and assistance to record the interviews for the BP24; All participants of the interviews and the questionnaire, who gave their time and shared their insights; Angela, my wife for her love and continuous support in my endeavours while giving life to and taking care of my beautiful daughter Dorka; Mütterchen and Kisöcsém for believing in me and in my decision studying and living far away from home on the other end of Europe; Finally, I dedicate this dissertation to my late Father for all those mind opening arguments and debates we shared and his unfailing love to us.



Hungarian planning struggles to incorporate strategic elements into structure and regulation plans. Budapest and the Agglomeration together form an administrative unit going through a rapid urbanisation. The Budapest Agglomeration has a plan but doesn’t have any representation. Communities are exposed to per diem decisions of local governments and market forces - unconcerned by future consequences, impacts on future resources and available land allocations. Planning systems in Eastern European countries with practice inherited from central planning are slow to adapt to the effects of metropolisation. Planning is embedded into a framework of governance tiers where planning powers are delegated. The structure of the governance and its agencies from national to local is the stage where entities with different agendas, roles and powers are present. Planning and contents of plans have been adapting till today to changes in scales and complexity producing different solutions in different places by becoming: more spatial and more strategic. City-region has emerged as one possible way to plan the functionally connected metropolitan areas Through a series of mixed research methods - literature reviews, face-to-face interviews with experts and an internet questionnaire targeting wider audience of planners this study examines the concept and practice of city-region planning and forms an argument that strategic spatial planning on city-region level can address challenges of metropolisation in the case of Budapest Agglomeration. Key words: Budapest Agglomeration, city-region, strategic spatial planning, governance, functional urban area, metropolisation


Abbreviations BAFT

Budapest Agglomeration Development Council


European Observation Network for Territorial Development and Cohesion, European Programme Initiative


European Spatial Development Perspective


European Regional Development Fund


Functional urban area


The Network of European Metropolitan Regions and Areas


Morphological urban area


European nomenclature for statistical units


Hungarian national spatial development concept 2030


European Programme promoting sustainable urban development


1. Introduction The first chapter introduces the study by placing it in a contextual background, explains its aim and key objectives, provides a brief overview of the research methodology and clarifies its relation to the chosen specialism. 1.1.


Understanding our city-regions is a frequent topic in planners’ conversations in CentralEurope. Fletching and more established metropolises –, Bratislava, Prague, Budapest, Zagreb or Vienna (Tschirk, 2011) - attempt to define their own metropolitan areas, and form metropolitan governance institutions in the competition of cities. Planning systems however, especially in Eastern European countries with practice inherited from central planning are slow to adapt to the rapidly changing situation. Urban planners struggle to find a way to create a strategic and spatial planning system; one which can adapt and answer to the aftermath of the recession in 2008-2010 and urbanisation challenges (European Town Planners, 2009). Effects of ‘metropolisation’ (ESPON, 2013) lead to the increasing spatial concentration of new population and new distributions of economic functions (Friedmann, 1986, 2002). Secondary locational patterns are taking shape in the form of dense strategic nodes spreading over to the broader region (Sassen, 2002). Electronic communication, internet and faster transportation evoke the space of flows changing the relationship between space and society (Castells, 2000). Flows of people, material and most of all information change the whole urban realm around. Regions establish networks of cooperation between regional institutions and between region-based companies. The unbalanced, unequal allocations of specialised functions within a city or its agglomeration are also a specific aspect of this urban transformation (Kunzmann, 1996). More than often ‘built-in rigidities’ (Sassen, 2002) pressed by physical structures limiting the spatial transformation which “jumps” the boundaries causing overspilling effects and redrawing the social geography of communities affected. European papers are summing up that the metropolises and metropolitan areas are not just ‘big cities’ (EESC, 2011). The Leipzig Charter (2007) on sustainable European cities put a strong emphasis on the principle of subsidiarity because the lack of effective


metropolitan governances. Settlements are forming more and more interrelated and functionally connected networks to the core cities and to each other. Even the increasingly disadvantageous trade-off between benefits and cost of moving further is not enough to stop down, only to slow down the penetration into the wider region. RTPI study highlights that urban expansion on this level leads to confrontational negotiations and power-plays (RPTI, 2001). Planning is embedded into a framework of governance tiers operating on different discretionary levels as planning powers are delegated. The structure of the state - with its agencies from national to local is the stage where entities with different agendas, roles and powers are present - is heavily dependent on the dominant views of political establishments. Tewdwr – Jones (2012) described that if planning changes accordingly to the shifting perceptions of public interest of party ideologies and political agendas concerned to meet with expectations of the public – voters, it creates an instable and adhoc context for all participants. Budapest and the Budapest Agglomeration together form an administrative unit. This administrative unit existing only in maps doesn’t have any form of institutionalised representation or planning body only a plan, the Budapest Agglomeration Plan. The agglomeration has been going through a rapid urbanisation and has experienced many issues. Some is due to the lack of supra-local or sub – regional governance mediating between national and local governance and to the inadequate planning framework in place. Some is more associated with the Hungarian regulatory, land-use and zoning based planning system itself. This dissertation is concerned with the planning system and its relation to governance levels where planning power can be delegated. It is also within its interest to assess whether planning practice in the case of the Budapest Agglomeration Plan can fulfil its purpose, and proposes amendments for improving it.



Research proposition

This study argues that strategic spatial planning on city-region (supra-local) level can address challenges of metropolisation in the case of Budapest Agglomeration. 1.3.

Research objectives

1. Critically assessing the Hungarian planning system based on land-use planning and its implications to the planning framework of the Budapest Agglomeration area; 2. Addressing the metropolisation issues in the Budapest Agglomeration area in the light of urbanisation and its relevance for planning since the 1990s; 3. Exploring the rationale of city-region planning from planning’s perspective by analysing the evolution of the city-region planning concept in Europe; 4. Assessing selected case studies of contemporary European metropolises to identify what metropolitan examples can show in planning power delegation, governance structuring; 5. Make recommendations for the Budapest Agglomeration to achieve an improved governance structure and strategic spatial planning framework. 1.4.

Structure of the study

Chapter 1 sets the topic and its context by introducing metropolisation and its consequences for city-regions. It explains the research proposition and its objectives, the structure of the study and its relations to the chosen specialism. Chapter 2 introduces the changes of the Hungarian planning system and critically analyses the link between governance structure and planning power delegation. It assesses local development strategies and their consequences for land markets and planning’s responses to metropolisation the emergence of multi-governance approaches. Chapter 3 lays down the foundation of the research methodology and design on which the chosen methods: literature reviews and case studies, interviews and internet surveys are based. Chapter 4 explores the evolution and changing nature of city-region planning concepts by looking at economic rationales, legacy of the forefathers and connects it to contemporary metropolitan practices. This chapter holds the structure / agent analysis of


selected metropolitan regions in Europe from the perspective of Budapest Agglomeration. Chapter 5 summarises the findings of interviews and the internet survey and draws conclusions on them. Chapter 6 weaves findings of different research methods and makes recommendations for city-region planning in case of Budapest Agglomeration. It also explains some of the limitations encountered while writing this dissertation. 1.5.


This study was completed as a part of the MSc in Real Estate and Planning programme accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). It is intended to meet the RTPI accreditation of specialism in Land and Property Markets. The subject is metropolisation and its impacts on cityregion planning of Budapest. Central-European city-regions with inadequate planning systems and blue-print style planning frameworks experience the growing pressure of urbanisation and are exposed to per diem local decisions and market forces unconcerned by future consequences and impacts on resources or available land allocations. The topic of the dissertation aims to find ways to change Hungarian planning’s philosophy and practice from being clearly land-use planning and zoning towards strategic planning. The dissertation is partly inspired by course modules of “Government, Participation and Community Planning” which highlighted the importance of collaboration between stakeholders through an assessment of planning public engagement and consultation methods, and “Strategic Spatial Vision Project” which delved into strategic spatial development plan making and policy targeting to bring vision alive. Personal link is my own previous experience as planner, and my dedication to the community of planners’ in Budapest.


2. Making the case for Budapest This chapter holds two main parts. First it delves into the details of Hungarian land-use planning with emphasis on local and supra-local level and assesses the planning system. It looks at issues of the planning framework with consequences for the Budapest cityregion. The second part explores the outcomes of urbanisation in the city-region and planning’s responses towards socio-economic trends, local strategies, stakeholder engagement and participation, governance issues. This chapter wishes to fulfil the first of my research objectives: 

Critically assessing the Hungarian planning system based on land-use planning and its implications to the planning framework of the Budapest Agglomeration area.

Addressing the metropolisation issues in the Budapest Agglomeration area in the light of of urbanisation since the 1990s and their relevance for planning.

Conclusions and the evaluation of the Budapest Agglomeration Plan in light of the territorial changes are summarised at the end of the chapter. 2.1.

Planning in Hungary – a short introduction

As Healy concluded planning has two main traditions: ‘one emphasising the physical design and morphology of towns’, and another based on ‘principles of rational planning processes of defining objectives, conducted focused analyses and evaluating strategies and monitoring them once implemented (Healy et al, 1997). The first version has strong connections to architectural and technical regulations in forming and articulating ordering principles in plans. Hungarian urban planning with its roots in architectural considerations belongs to this tradition. Forging the two traditions together and forming the base of spatial strategic planning is an uneasy process and holds further challenges for planners. In Hungarian planning strategic, future looking and programming planning papers such as Urban Development Concepts, Integrated Urban Development Strategies are not considered to be ‘real’ plans (Lukovich, 2002a). They don’t produce building rights or have legal consequences in any sense (MUT, 2009). National legislation doesn’t require measures to follow up, monitor and evaluate implementation to be incorporated, despite that they providing the strategic visions. In other words they can be changed, ignored or


being thick exercise – a tokenism (Arnstein, 1969). Emphasis is heavily on regulatory planning, which is a statutory plan. For this I looked at the branch of the regulatory plans and made references to strategic documents whenever I felt links are necessary for the better understanding. 2.2.

Urban planning then...

Since the fall of the Iron Curtain Budapest was increasingly attractive for purposes of investment - reported Sassen (2001).At this time Hungarian urban planning or settlement planning (direct translation of Hungarian term would be something akin to ‘making order’ or ‘ordering’) was a blue-print style masterplanning exercise placing people, economic actors and most of all buildings in the spatial realm according to sectoral aims of government ministries (Ratcliffe and Stubbs, 1996). A central economy planning made the decisions through the network of party functionaries of different levels and planning did the homework of translating it into plan documents. Plans were prepared on national, county and local level and financed it by central state budget. Planning process was basically exclusive for technocrats and professionals, local governments didn’t have control or influence over new developments and land-use decisions. It was only possible in the lack of real private properties as the landownership belonged to the state (Ratcliffe and Stubbs, 1996). Main types of plans were the general regulation plans and detailed regulation plans. Former is a structure plan - a zoning map for land-use zones; latter is a legally binding masterplan with the detailed characteristics down to the scale of 1:1000 (Nagy, Korner, 2004). Building permissions were based on detailed regulation plans. The planning process was relatively simple – planners of government town planning institutions prepared it and councils applied it via building applications of various sorts including the infrastructural developments. Implementation was always dependent of sectoral aims and intentions, development objectives of local plans remained mostly on paper (Barta, 1992) 2.3.

...And urban planning now

The Transition in 1989 – the process transforming the political establishment – went with the wave of mass privatisation (Grime and Duke, 1993) and the devolution of central power to elected local governments devolved planning too. Still, it took up to 1996-1997 to enact the Territorial Development and Regulation Act (Hungary, 1996), the Management and Protection of the Built Environment Act (Hungary, 1997) and the 6

statutory national guidance the OTÉK - the National Requirements of Urban Ordering and Building Activities (Hungarian government, 1997a). It was a departure from the earlier practice especially in the process of plan preparation but not strategic planning Faragó (1997). The system of structure plans - Szerkezeti terv - for main land-uses zones and regulation plans - Szabályozási terv - for detailed building zones and permitted functions (normatively attributed to buildings) don’t have time spans or financial dimensions for implementation (Figure 1). Szabó marked that regulation, indeed regulatory planning is not planning activity in the sense of programming for the future. Its main focus is to create a set of rules for building characteristics, public spaces and main uses. Figure 1 Examples of local structure and regulation plans

Source: 1 Karakó (n.d.) and Tata (n.d.)

In theory local regulation plans are built on development concepts programs and integrated urban design strategies but in reality they are heavily influenced by everyday decisions and developers demands as local governments trying to attract investments. Local plans are prepared for the administrative area of the settlement, county level plan suppose to provide the link between national and local frameworks. However county plans are detailed structural plan versions of national plans establishing designated zones of natural and built environment, environmental directives and sectoral purposes such as defence, water management, railways, transportation networks etc. A study done by the Hungarian Society for Urban Planning showed that connections of regulative plans to future looking urban development concepts and integrated urban development strategies are weak. Latter are mostly used as a token thick-box exercise


for EU fund bids (MUT, 2009) and not as strategic fundation for regulative plans. The result is a constant pressure to redraw different areas of the regulation plans, to change them to be more accommodating to different objectives of local government objectives, market actors or make them suitable to bid for EU funds. There is a built-in instability in the system regarding the role of the management of plans. Hungarian local governments enjoy a considerable freedom in the absence of development management role - the required changes are based on what the political leadership of individual municipalities want to achieve (Table 1). Table 1 Comparison of Scottish and Hungarian Planning


Comparison of roles and activities in local planning

System Scotland


Planning Development

(authority) Hungary

Management (authority)

Enforcement (authority)

Land-use planning and Ad-hoc

negotiations Building Control

zoning (chief architect)

councillors, (authority)

(mayor, developers)

Source: 2 Scottish Government (2009b), Own illustration

Plan preparation is generally outsourced to private consultancies at county and local governments as they lack available planning teams, appropriate skills and budget. In fact third parties prepare plans under the supervision of the local chief architect (if there is one), which leaves the door wide open to lobbying parties and influence within the local government. There are no established practices for community engagement, and a strong scepticism can be identified towards civil societies and social economy. The highly fragmented local government system is facing constant challenges to adapt and innovate of new urban policy methods, models and techniques (HervainĂŠ, 2008). 2.4.

Relation of urban planning to development

Economic planning belongs to the government exercising its role through the EU- NUT II. statistical regions. The majority of public development and investments – 97 % - are financed by European Fund for Regional Development (ERDF) budget as reported by the 168 ÓRA (2014). The Regional Operative Programs in every EU programming period support their own set of objectives - Pallai (2010) stated that in the competition for EU funds and many subsidies, strategies and plans are made to support project proposals. Not just development and planning - as strategising activity and physical


planning activity (Healy, 1997) - are separated, but urban and regional levels are also divided (Lukovich, 2002a). Urban development papers, development concepts have future visions; have some level of programming, set objectives and in the case of integrated urban development strategies budget to implement. Structure plans and regulation plans have maps and written part explaining the maps. Of course zoning for future uses is possible but its realisation is beyond that kind of plan types. 2.5.

Stakeholder involvement and partnerships

The now dismissed Local Government Act (Hungary, 1990) established the system of county and local governments by forming autonomous municipalities. The Act stated that individual municipalities and counties are not interdependent unless they have common interests (6 § (30). This paragraph wanted to put an emphasis on collaboration - on working together according their presumed mutual interests, safeguarding their newly acknowledged freedom and autonomy in local matters and public affairs. The recently enacted new Local Government Act (Hungary, 2011) doesn’t bring change in this sense, in the 9 § it states that they shall cooperate according to the will of the local society. MUT (2009) reported that spatial co-operations beyond a given administrative unit are virtually absent or ineffective. Especially was true this in the case of Budapest Agglomeration where 23 district municipalities, the capital city council and the surrounding 80 municipalities are supposed to agree on matters with mutual impacts. Forming a mutual vision however is not included. Politics often lacks the will - planning departments the manpower to engage and consult with contemporaries and neighbours apart from statutory consultations processes. Consultation is required with statutory consultees only like sectoral government bodies, neighbouring communities and registered civil organisations. Changes in participation also mean some transparency. Mandatory announcements and plan presentations to public and consultees and public hearing are part of the statutory consultation process (Hungary, 1997 and Hungarian Government, 2012). Public hearing is not exactly a public debate – it is a one-way presentation (Lukovich, 2002c). The content of the documents to be discussed is based on what the developer agent (private or public) wants in the form of new masterplans and does not focus on the issues of the stakeholders and neighbour communities having to say in regard with the planned area. The difference is substantial as in the process an already formed idea will be presented and municipalities have the discretion to acknowledge or not stakeholders’ opinion. In comparison to Scottish planning (Scottish Government, 2009a) system the Main Issue Report preparation and consultation phase 9

is completely missing, it leaves to the individual planner to decide what is wrong or make connection between them. 2.6.

Introducing the Budapest Agglomeration

Budapest is the capital city of Hungary and the core city of the Budapest Agglomeration (Table 2). The administrative agglomeration contains of 80 municipalities: villages, towns and cities on various scale plus the capital city and its 23 districts municipalities (HSO, 2014). The Agglomeration has a special weight as it does represent around 2527% of the whole population of the country. Table 2 Territorial levels around Budapest

Population in millions Budapest City ca. 1.7 (including Districts) 2.5 Budapest Agglomeration Central Hungarian 2.9 Region Budapest Economic 3.5-4.0 Metropolitan REgion

Administrative status

Functional role

Local government none NUTS unit none

labor market, housing, infrastructure, recreation II.

planning 1 hr driving distance ring – the economically active area of investors

Source: 3 Tosics (2014)

The communities of the Agglomeration are forming a concentric ring around the core city and they are the part of the Pest County, the next supra-local government level (Figure 2). Figure 2 - Statistical city-regions in Hungary

The Budapest Agglomeration

Source: 4 HSO (2014)


The idea of not new with the newly reformed planning system in 1997, a new agglomeration area had also been drawn up for the Budapest Agglomeration in the 89/ 1997 government decree (Hungarian Government, 1997b). The boundaries and the settlements belonging to this administrative unit were redrawn by the Spatial Planning of the Budapest Agglomeration Act (Hungary, 2005). No supra-local governance unit was established covering both Budapest city and the Agglomeration. Regional development and city-region planning is not represented by a metropolitan institution, thus the fragmented nature of governance is not counter-balanced by agency responsible for managing and coordinating development across municipal boundaries (So贸s and Ignits, 2003). Governance structure and planning powers The spatial unit defined by the administrative boundaries of the area is the scope for the Budapest Agglomeration Plan, which creates a planning framework for the settlement of the Agglomeration by preparing a structure plan and a special designated area plan (See Appendix 7). Budapest itself has a multi- government system, the City is both supra-local and local level, the 23 Districts municipalities are the local level planning powers of with elected local assemblies and mayors,. The City adapts a spatial plan for the whole city in the form of structure plan (containing major zones) particularly in the subjects of transportation, natural environment, environmental protection, and natural heritage, the riverside area of the Danube and the historical areas belonging to the World Heritage Zones; and defines the major developments for the future. The task of translating and adapting plans on local level is with the municipalities of the districts. However, within the framework districts have freedom to apply different measures in the major zones. What they actually put into local plans is usually a result of political considerations. The municipalities of the settlement ring in the agglomeration have their local plans; the next level for them is the Pest County plan. The two supra-local plan the Pest County and the Budapest structure plans are prepared in isolation with minimal consideration to the other; it would be the purpose of the Budapest Agglomeration Plan to integrate them. The planning framework therefore is an increasingly complex web of 103 local plans (including the 23 districts in Budapest) and three supra-local plans out of which only one is aimed to link-up the city-region. In addition to this complexity local plans are made and reviewed on a different timescale which makes it almost impossible to monitor them. The Budapest Agglomeration Plan in that sense conserve the 11

circumstances defined by adapted local plans decrees in a given time period. The difference








incorporating local aspirations is that in the first case bottom-up input would form a base for a common strategic vision while consequences of the latter leading to system of fragmented plan patches. Instead of coordinating the local plans the Budapest Agglomeration plan only incorporates local plans preserving a status quo. 2.7.

Sand in the machinery –the forces of urbanisation

The Budapest agglomeration saw rapid urbanisation in the last two decades: complete restructuring of the economy and labour markets, emergence of commuting and traffic congestions (Foldi, 2012), the appearance and integration of out-of-town retail, logistics, new office zones (Soóki-Tóth et al, 2013), gentrification (Kovács, Wiessner, Zischner, 2013) mass migration into the agglomeration ( HSO, 2014; Kok and Kovács, 1999; Foldi, 2012; Szabó, 2003; Váradi, 2012; Szirmai, 1998 and 2007). The extent of the area affected also expanded (Lukovich, 2002b). The newly formed social, economic relations took roots and the new functional connections weaved the settlements into the knit of the city-region. Kovács et al. (2007) concluded that (Figure 3) the outer rim of the agglomeration is still slowly shifting outwards followed by the review of the administrative boundaries - always one step behind. Figure 3 Expansion of the administrative area of the agglomeration

Source: 5 Kovács et al. ( 2007) pp. 16


Socio-economic trends and market forces Recent report of the Hungarian Statistical Office (2014) on national census in 2011 highlights the strong demographic and social fluctuation in and out of the agglomeration. Housing especially took off as people with sufficient finances moved out to the “green” areas of the smaller settlements (Figure 4a). Local municipalities were targeted by developers and private buyers to buy-up land leading to price rises of homes and consequently of undeveloped lands (Figure 4b). Figure 4 Trends in a) Migration and b) Housing prices

Source: 6HSO (2014)

Van der Berg (1987) noted that development of urban networks is the outcome of the interrelated behaviour of three different actors: families, companies and governments. Families migrated from Budapest to the agglomeration ring on a wide scale, especially households with children where parents (Figure 5) in the age groups of 28-36. Sápi (2013) identified that popularity of the targeted settlements changed according to the ability to finance to buy land or homes. Figure 5 Migration by age groups of main householders

Source: 7 HSO (2014)

In summary the state and the capital city’s official actors, ceded the suburban residential (including condominium) and other economic development-related areas to market players and to the middle classes who were ‘unsatisfied with the Budapest’s central 13

districts’ and wanted to move out, and to the lower classes forced to leave the large city due to ‘gradual impoverishment’ (Szirmai, 2011). The growing demand led to a massive up-take on available lands: according to Schuchmann (2007) the increase of built up areas was more than 10,000 hectare agricultural lands were developed. The process resulted an unstructured and uncoordinated land use practice that developed in the agglomeration area (especially in its outskirts) characterised by the uncontrolled expansion of urban areas. The nature of the development allocations proved to be detrimental for later opportunities because of the deterioration of territorial potentials (Szirmai, 2011). Local development strategies and consequences Local governments saw the continuous decrease of redistributed of income taxes collected on a given settlement and the parallel increase in public service provision demanded by the state (Váradi, 2012). Their behaviour was influenced motivated mostly by the financial necessities and the anticipated political profits expressed on elections (Szabó, 2003). The lack of local capital resources restricted the planning and development opportunities of local governments. Local development decisions were reached to serve land owners’ and real estate developers’ interests. This was partly because of the underfunding of local authorities and partly because of the interest in realising additional revenues from land sales and the re-classification of territories (Szirmai, 2011). Szabó identified three typical strategies of local governments regarding developments: (i) total isolation; (ii) total profile change; (iii) laissez faire (2003). Municipalities opting for (i) Total isolation have either a local community with strong inclination to NIMBY-ism or they were facing with being forced out off the local property markets by the prospective buyers from Budapest looking for cheap land. Local plans were often restrictive and forbid the re-classification of land for developments. This strategy led to the unwillingness to form partnerships with neighbour settlements, while out of necessity they had to put up with changes occurred over the borders. (ii) Total profile changed municipalities are entrepreneurs; they financed the infrastructural provision of land at re-classification hoping the cap the incremental when selling the land for developers. They played on the segregative nature of outward migration; the increasing demand of wealthy classes to establish new life in the “green” area of the picturesque agglomeration was a very strong drive exploited. Mostly housing, services and retail sectors were in target, local plans were changed to easily accommodate the selected developments. These municipalities were active to 14

reach out and form partnerships to increase the pool of finance available especially for quality public service provision. (iii) Laissez faire strategy was applied by the vast majority the communities. Bureaucratic behaviour, the rejection of actively shaping the local markets or take place in developments, avoidance of conflicts and the doubt that planning has any sense at all featured this strategy. The balance of the local budget aimed every decision. Instead of building infrastructure to get a higher price the tactics was to force developers to do it, in turn they could choose which land to be developed. From planning perspective this is real market-led local planning; enabling while setting barriers regardless of sustainability or strategic approach. Partnerships were only formed were legislation explicitly required it. The outcome is often an irreversible consequence and the phenomenon of the ‘default urbanism’ coined by Adams and Tiesdell (2013). Perfect example of a disintegrated place is the Tópark development in the small country town of Törökbálint. It aimed to create a whole new complex of multi-storey offices, residential, retail and entertainment without access to any public transportation, public services and amenities without any regards to social, economic or environmental interaction to the accommodating village. The development went bankrupt in the recession leaving a massive concrete ‘ghost city’ behind (Figure 6). Figure 6 Tópark development and Törökbálint ’s urban fabric

Source: 8 égikamera (n.d.) and REsource (2010)


In an extensive research study, Rácz (2014) analysed a complex set of indicators of social, quality of live (environmental) and economic trends in 2001-2011 in the Budapest Agglomeration area (Figure 7). Figure 7 Social, quality of life and economic trends in 2001-2011

Source: 9 Rácz (2014)

The outcome of the analysis correlates to the three different strategies applied and gives a good perspective how municipalities and implicitly planning fared in the last decade. Rácz’s study also shows that Agglomeration Plan failed to achieve territorial equality mostly due to the lack of strategic approach in allocating new housing, employment and retail areas. Market forces were especially set against planning and planning policies proved to be ineffective.


Planning system’s response to metropolisation

The common aspect was and still is in the agglomeration, that decisions lack any kind of coherence and are not based on local plans. Szabó (2003) noted that local plans were already adapted or under amendment when the first Budapest Agglomeration Plan preparation started, which means that the intended regulation of negative trends ended up in legitimising them as they were the reality when the agglomeration’s plan came to power. All evidence implicates that planning on local and as a consequence of local strategies and the way as the planning framework operates is a market-lead. Szirmai (2011) summarised that professionals and relevant professional documents warned of the foreseeable adverse consequences of the unrestrained territorial expansion. Pallai (2006, 2010) warned about the absence of relevant information for 16

strategy drafting and decision making and the destructive consequence of having strategic plans are so broad that practically any action could be legitimized within their parameters. Gauder et al. highlighted the importance of dialogue to define the cityregion, the governance system and representation (2011). ‘Underground’ planning think-tanks with Dutch, British professionals in their ranks held conferences on or prepared alternative strategic plans such as the Metropolis Dialogue (Urbanissimus, 2001-2002), the Spatial planning tool box for Pest County (Ecorys, 2002), the EU Danube Strategy – Danube High Street Strategic Spatial Plan (Roeleveld-Sikkes and Studio Metropolitana, 2010) or the most recent Budapest Metropolitan Region Spatial Strategy (Studio Metropolitana, 2010). These strategic spatial plans did conceptualise the possible city-region evolution scenarios (Figure 8) for identifying the city-region appropriate scales but were neither part of the official establishment nor endorsed by it. Figure 8 Mapping the Budapest city-region

Source: 10 Gauder, Szabó, Albel (2011) pp. 127

In case of Budapest no city-region level strategic development did develop, leaving the local governments and indeed local plans to act alone in isolation according to the best self-interest. There were proposals for the institutionalisation of the complex relationship of settlements and local governments in a multi-level governance partnership (Somlódyné, 2008) as a possible solution to create synergies, but for 17

planning it only meant the introduction of the Budapest Agglomeration Plan, a statutory plan with a wider spatial scale trying to incorporate the core city and settlements of surrounding suburban and commuting ring. Emergence of the multi-governance approach Hungary has strong national and local governance and a weak county level. Planning power and implementation is delegated to those levels. Territorial formations are highly underestimated as opposed to local and national centred developments (Hervainé, 2008). Their capability to deliver development objectives is weak as national objectives and decisions of the government are incorporated to national levels plans and delivered by the state agencies, whereas the rest: developments of the market actors and municipalities are incorporated into local plans. Váradi (2012) concluded that county level government couldn’t step in linking-up national and local municipalities and their planning efforts. Co-operation with other local governments is generally highly underestimated. This is the situation with the subunits of the city-regions as well (Hervainé, 2008). In that way local governments do fall into the ‘Local Trap’ – equalling the local with ‘the good’ which shall be preferred over non-local scales (Purcell, 2006). The real issue arises in cases of problems that local units cannot address by themselves. Due to their hollowed status counties did not become a forum for mediating local development aims or establishing connection to national level or between municipalities of the county’s administrative unit. There was a repeated attempt of the state administration to mitigate the situation in 1997-2000 and 2005-2012, by setting- up a non-elected agglomeration development council body, the now defunct BAFT (MTI, 2012) the development council of the administrative agglomeration. Parties and governments have and had different solutions to tackle the spatial issues by establishing and abolishing BAFT and channelling inputs of participation from the private and voluntary sectors to this institution. Unfortunately, the BAFT was neither equipped with sufficient funds for developing or managing developments nor acknowledged by local governments. The reception of the development council body was mixed at best; most of the local municipalities especially the leadership of Budapest ignored it. Even though the organisation prepared a spatial strategic development plan for 2006-2007, but it has been never connected to the frameworks of the statutory plans. 18

Planning documents (Budapest, 2013, 2014, Pest County, 2014) express the need for establishing multi-governance for a reviewed administrative administration with institutionalised planning authority, however they never venture beyond referring back to the Territorial Development Act (Hungary, 1996) which requires the establishment of spatial development consultation forums. Even though the Act (11-16.§) allocates the right to form a consultative body for the capital city in cooperation with Pest County’s same organisation it does not represent the city-region’s governance. The risk analysis of territorial cooperation and the forming of the consultative body in the recent ITS Budapest Strategy 2020 (Budapest, 2014) shows that the probability of failure is medium high and the impact of risk are high evaluating it as a possible critical level overall risk. Apart from government bodies all the rest, including the whole civil sector, the national chief architect (national head of urban planning) and different chartered organisations have only ‘invited guest’ status – and even so the numbers of invited is restricted to be only one-third of the consultation body. The setup of the proposed new consultative organisation guaranties a constant majority of votes to the state representatives and so to the changing political agendas of the government. It will reinforce the government instead of devolving more power to a governance system where non-state stakeholders have increased rights and responsibilities in shaping policies for the Budapest Agglomeration. Land-use versus spatial strategic planning Academic sources also realise the weakness of the planning system. Faragó (1997) commented on the emerging needs to move toward spatial planning by emphasising an integrative, bottom-up, indicative approach where territorial plans are embracing local visions and set a frame within the can be unfolded, while alleviating negative externals and competing interests and forming an institutionalised management to work on implementation. It has to be noted that this was in the same time, when Hungarian planning system undergone a reform, still very little has been taken up. Amendments of the Budapest Agglomeration Plan tried to restrain urban sprawl and coordinate land-use on agglomeration level by setting the threshold for re-classifying new built-up areas at 3% than 2%. Its failure rooted that although it attempts to shape the market to allocate land for new uses on the right places, it doesn’t takes into account the same market forces it wishes to regulate.


The normative regulation is not capable to deal with changing demands and for it is not based assessed demands (especially housing and commuting within the FUA) and lacks strategic approach in allocating them. The Budapest Spatial Development Concept BTFK (Budapest, 2014), Budapest 2030 Urban Development Concept – BVFK (Budapest, 2013) or the Pest County Spatial Development Programme 2014-2030 (Pest Megye, 2013) recognise issues of the missing evidence base, lack of integration and isolated processes, but only note that it should be addressed somehow. Fixed and fluid spaces: a shifting city-region One of the biggest problems of the Budapest Agglomeration Plan is that it is still aimed to tackle metropolisation in the same administrative area. The issues of the FUA cannot be dealt with as many of the reasons and indeed part of the FUA are beyond the reach of Budapest Agglomeration Plan which is still locked to the administrative borders. Lowe (2011) stated that while plans and planning entities usually try to address problems at a certain scale - neighbourhood, city, region, or beyond; the same frames such as administrative area boundaries powerfully direct attention to some problems and solutions, while overlooking others. Indeed, conceived and ‘fluid’ spatial frames used as a basis for drawing up ‘fixed’ administrative borders can be barriers in seeing the obvious that the reason for drawing them on a given place has already changed. One conceptual tool to define such areas is the functional urban area. The concept was outlined by van der Berg, Drewett and Klassen (1982) to define extent of regions which are connected by daily routines and interactions. They stated that an urban area with a commuting rate over 15% is functionally connected regardless if at the same time morphologically was connected or not. Commuting is still one important component to define FUA. Different research centres like OECD (2014), or ESPON (2013) place the threshold on different levels or use another methodologies with complex datasets including demographic, economic, cultural or political indicators (Tosics, Homan, Howl, 2007). Figure 9A shows the Hungarian functional metropolitan areas by OECD database (2014), 9B is the official Budapest Agglomeration administrative and planning area (Eurostat, 2014), 9C is the FUA by the recent Polyce study (ESPON, 2013), 9D is BAFT’s attempt to find scale and boundary for an effective city-region governance (2007), 9E displays the city-region as delimited by the R/S and Studio Metropolitana (2010) and finally 9F shows the metropolitan region as in the new OFTK - National Development and Spatial Strategy (Hungary, 2014). 20

Recent development seems to encouraging as it emphasises forming evidence based (Hungary, 2014) of multi governance alliances, a spatially redefined Budapest Agglomeration but the preferred spatial unit is the economic region not the city-region. Contrary to the national policy evidence prove that the real the extent of the city-region should be the functional urban area (FUA) which is bigger than the current administrative agglomeration however smaller than the economic region suggested by OTFK. This is supported by both OECD and ESPON findings (Figure 9 A and C). It shall be noted that assessment of different planning documents reveal a mismatch of using terms: FUA and economic metropolitan region is often used as equivalents even though they are referring to different aspects and delimitation is based on different datasets.


Figure 9 Shifting city-regions

Source: 11 OECD (2014), Eurostat (n.d.), ESPON (2013) BAFT (2006), R/S and SM (2010), OFTK (2014)



Conclusions on the Budapest Agglomeration planning

This chapter critically assessed the Hungarian planning system based on land-use (physical) planning and its implications to the planning framework of the Budapest Agglomeration area. The second part of this chapter addressed the metropolisation issues in the Budapest Agglomeration area in the light of the outcomes of urbanisation trends relevance for planning. Findings showed that Hungarian planning struggles to incorporate strategic elements into structure and regulation plans, missing the chance to allocate strategic areas based on assessment of needs and demands. Especially true for the agglomeration planning framework what Cullingworth and Nadin (2006) noted: land use planning systems have relatively weak influence over spatial policy because spatial planning approach concentrates on establishing better coordination on territorial impacts: horizontally across different sectors, vertically among different levels of jurisdiction, and geographically across administrative boundaries’ (Cullingworth and Nadin, 2006). Connection between regulation plans and strategic visions, concepts and other strategies and the clarification on monitoring and evaluating of the advancement of the implementation plus an inclusive process and city-region level governance system with planning powers would make planning strategic as well as spatial. Plans are prepared in isolation, and local governments pursue different and unaligned agendas. Stakeholder involvement and partnerships do not easily form; there is rather competition than cooperation as a result of laissez fair strategies followed by the majority of local governments. Existing supra-local – sub-regional territorial planning tools including the Budapest Agglomeration Plan alone are not able to mediate vertically between national and local levels and fail to coordinate local developments. This leads to widening territorial inequalities. Detachment of urban planning on local and development planning on regional level further widens the gap between planning and implementation due to lack of finances. The plan without any agent managing its implementation it is doomed to fail. Many policy expresses the importance of dealing with Budapest Agglomeration but fails to pinpoint anything about the possible spatial extent or to clarify whom, through which process and how shall be included into this new governance structure. The main problems of the governance structure of the Budapest Agglomeration and the delegation of planning power to agents are summarised in Figure 10. What it shows is that the


administrative agglomeration doesn’t have any form of representation, meanwhile the metropolisation processes it is intended to manage are already beyond its boundaries, so the de facto city-region is left without any governance structure and is lacking any agent bearing planning powers to work towards a mutually defined strategic vision. Figure 10 Governance and planning issues in the Budapest Agglomeration

Source: 12 own illustration

Recent legislative changes in Territorial Development Act (Hungary, 1996) show the emergence of a dual governance system based on territorial representation – districts within the city-borders of Budapest would be represented by the capital city consultation council while part of the agglomeration would be represented by Pest County’s territorial body.

This dissertation acknowledges the need for an agglomeration level city-region governance body with strategic planning powers – but does challenge this the Territorial Development Act’s approach as: 

it will insert two new agents into an already strained structure, with different spatial jurisdiction increasing the fragmentation and bureaucratic complexity of the governance levels, the new system will only reproduce of the incapability of the existing one;

it neither manage the agglomeration on real terms nor on the appropriate scale the functional urban area is already bigger than the current administrative agglomeration area as a result of integrating metropolisation forces and goes beyond the jurisdiction of both Budapest and Pest County.


For territorial jurisdiction the new OFTK - National Development and Spatial Strategy (Hungary, 2014) draws up a spatially redefined Budapest Agglomeration, but the preferred spatial unit seems to the economic urban region not the functional urban region. This dissertation proposes the functional urban area as more adequate to draw up boundaries with acknowledgment of the need for flexibility. Figure 11 City-region scales

Source: 13 Espon (2013) OECD (2013) own illustration

My conclusion is that evidence proves that the Budapest Agglomeration has to invent his own governance body based on the functional city-region; the new body should incorporate a wider selection of non-state stakeholders to represent a wider circle of local actors and markets, it has to have planning power delegated to coordinate and integrate local initiatives and aspirations while striving to achieve a more territorially balanced state. The following research is looking into questions left open by literature review regarding the rationale of city-planning and the emergence of governance structures and agents in European examples, experience of people with deep knowledge of existing agglomeration planning framework and practice to identify further requirements and milestones in forming a new city-region planning situation for the Budapest Agglomeration.


3. Research Methodology This chapter details the research design and methods used in the dissertation. It is built to answer questions left open by the literature review of available and relevant published literature of issues associated metropolisation, urbanisation and city-regions. This chapter describe the chosen research methods to analyse and evaluate the existing experiences








considerations and. 3.1.

Research Design

The results of the preliminary research suggested that further researches should be done by multiple methods to acquire answers to the research objectives. The next step was to address problems and challenges of the lack of sub-national planning on city-region level in the case of Budapest. Findings were presented on an illustrative sheet to help designing an appropriate research plan (Figure 11 and Appendix 1). Figure 12 Planning the research

Source: 14 Own illustration

To set the context of planning issues in the Budapest metropolitan area the review of academic references, assessments of Hungarian national and local legislations, policies


and plans provided the foundations. To explain the evolution of the strategic city – region planning concept and the rationale behind it a brief examination on planning history was necessary. To get up-to-date feedback on the identified and addressed challenges, I have conducted personal interviews with planners, other professionals and stakeholders. For collecting responses from a wider range of participants an internet based survey with set questions and measureable answers seemed to be most appropriate. To learn from practices of other metropolitan areas in Europe the ESPON, URBACT, METREX researches and other recently completed studies offered a good starting point. 3.2.

Applied research methods

The research was done along the principles of the Mixed Method (Johnson et al., 2012). This particular method balances between dominantly qualitative and quantitative approaches while offering the ability of harnessing advantages of both. Generally quantitative methods work on variables attributed with measurable dimensions while qualitative approaches reveal beliefs and empirical experiences (Wisker, 2001). Applied research methods:  interviews (qualitative method)  internet-survey (quantitative method)  case studies The interviews concentrated of findings in the literature review to verify that they are still present. Questions of the internet survey were based on the interviewees and were used as a control measure to assess whether a wider range of stakeholders have the same view in particular questions then the interviewees. The metropolises and city-region compared in the case studies were aimed to explore different solutions for structuring governance and delegate planning power. 3.3.


The qualitative method of interviewing helps gathering deeper insight from interviewees (Corbin and Strauss, 2008). It also allows understanding their point of view through their first-hand experience in the complex interactions of social world as suggested by Mason (2002). According to Adams (2010) using semi-structured interviews are advantageous in cases where a wide range of topics are discussed, with participants of various backgrounds; where depending on the individuals’ relations to


the subject very different responses could be expected. The process of exploring personal experiences often requires departure from key themes when reflecting on new data emerging during the conversations. It also proves to be an opportunity of revealing interrelated aspects and prompt interviewees to think on ideas to improve situations. The chosen method of interviewing was a line of semi-structured interviews (Appendix 2) based on a set of open questions with regards of the participants’ personal expertise. The main aim was to get insight on the planning framework and the different levels of governance to which planning powers are delegated. Another important goal was to verify that issues addressed in literature review are still present. The initial list of participants targeted 27 individuals engaged with planning in the last decade could be broken down to 5 main groups. The groups were representing: 1.

Professionals: 6 senior consultant;


Budapest: 4 current or previous chief architects [the head of planning] of Budapest’s districts in strategic position – extending from the city centre to the outer administrative boundaries or situated next to an agglomeration settlement, the Chief architect of Budapest, a Planner of the capital city responsible for strategic development planning;


City-region: 4 chief architects of municipalities within the Budapest Agglomeration, the chief architect of Pest County; the Mayor of Esztergom city (former district and a county chief architect);


Party of various stakeholders: 2 RICS representatives, the previous Chief architect of Budapest, Budapest’s previous Deputy mayor for urban development, a foreign correspondent reporting to the Economist on local and national affairs and to Monocle on urban themes, a senior consultant of the IBM Smarter Cities;


Peer cities: Compress representing City of Vienna in Budapest, Representative of Bratislava Metropolis – Department of Spatial Planning and Regionalism, a representative of the department of Regional Planning and Regional Development at the Technische Universität Wien.

Finally interviews with 11 participants were undertaken between 02 and 04 June 2014, on the board of the A38 ship in a soundproof and lockable studio room (Appendix 3). The first contacts were made via my Heriot-Watt university email detailing the research project containing basic information about the topic and the planned interviews 28

including key themes, expected length, place and time, and other prospective interviewees. For participants expressed interest to take part, the BP24 Guidebook was produced containing a wide range of information including a sample questionnaire later tailored to each individual; the place and the date of the interviews. Each interview took approximately one hour questioning one interviewee at one sitting. The interviews were recorded on film accompanied with shorthand notes on key points discussed. Depending on the choice of the participant the language of the conversation was either Hungarian or English. Research ethics and data protection Due to a welcoming reception towards the idea of making a documentary, the interviews went beyond of the originally planned form and with the explicit agreement of the participants; they were recorded on film to form the base of an independent film about the same topic later. To be transparent group page was set up to provide more details and to interact with me before making a decision. It also was an effective way of communication, building trust and credibility, and providing feedback on findings or getting up-to-date with the reports. The Guidebook contains a Disclaimer (Appendix 4) explaining the implications of sensitive personal data protection on clear terms, explicit care was taken to include, that interviews will be recorded and may be presented via video-hare websites such as Youtube or Vimeo. Option to remain or change status to anonymous is maintained during the whole project and participant will be asked to give final permission in case of publication. One chief architects wished to remain anonymous and did not agreed to be recorded. All information was kept on designated external hard drive and backed-up on my computer out of reach anyone else. 3.4.


The quantitative string of the research took shape in a form of an anonym internetsurvey or websurvey based on the principles of establishing evaluation questions and design choices in the Using the Internet (Newcomer and Triplet, 2010). An online questionnaire was produced by using the Google Forms - a free and readily available solution for collecting quantitative data. The survey had a set of questions and answer options that participants select from a predefined selection. Answers were either measured in strength of feelings on a numbered scale in an ‘I agree – I don’t agree style’, or contained options to choose including maps and visually illustrated examples.


To engage with a fair cross section of respondents different channels were used to convey the survey. It was published on the dissertations Facebook page as well as on the UrbaNEXT’s – a network of young planners– and the Hungarian Society of Urban Planning’s (MUT) Facebook pages. With the help of Mr. Gabor Soóki-Tóth the RICS Hungary Planning and Development Group’s chairman, the members of the group were contacted directly through him via email. This included of the relevant professionals representing property agencies such as the DTZ, CBRE, Colliers ect. Learned from the lesson of the interviews, the websurvey did not collect any personal information, apart from some overview about the movement patterns to use public services and amenities and to get to work across the city-region. The questions were based on the key topics and key point learned through the interviews with special emphasis on enhancing the picture of what participants experienced on the related themes. During the campaign 35 participants contributed to the research between October 01 and 15 November 2014. Survey design The design of the questionnaire built on two main parts (Appendix 5). Part One is a introductory piece to steer the frame of thinking toward the different aspects of a cityregion or metropolis by asking the notion of ‘metropolis’ to be defined on very simple but revealing terms, it ask for thinking on a perceived extent of the city-region by visualising an example of commuting for different purposes across the region. A group of sub-questions are aimed to explore the general understanding of experience of the complex impacts of urbanisation such as exclusion, commuting, over spilling effects, partnership between communities and municipalities, effective strategic allocation of developments and meaningful participation. Part One finishes with a connecting question to find out whether respondent is a ‘professional’ or someone with more ‘superficial’ interest. (Interesting fact that at least one senior lever executive of one of the international property agencies opted for the ‘superficial’ knowledge option.) Part Two delves more deeply into the controversial strategic nature of existing planning practice and checks on the potential persuasiveness of plans (Adams and Tiesdell, 2013). To get clear, decisive, measurable and easily interpretable data, the starting group of sub-questions are using a radical option of ‘yes – no’ approach. Questions regarding integrative, collaborative and inclusive nature of planning and development draws on principles of Thinking Spatially (RTPI, 2014a) and core ideas of the New Vision for Planning (RTPI, 2001), intelligence gathering and institutional collaboration of agents in governance inspired by Future-proofing Society (RTPI,2014b). Final 30

second set of questions are looking into the process of plan making, following the footsteps of Adams and Tiesdell (2013). The ‘Nine key variables’ placed emphasis on inclusion, presentation, wording, acceptance and endorsement, community support and stakeholder engagement, robustness of evidence base and the plan maker’s capacity to marshal resources. 3.5.

Case studies

The aim of the explanatory case studies on European metropolitan areas is to take the opportunity of learning form examples by looking at practical and concrete knowledge (Flyvberg, 2006). The research relies on Bryman’s advice (2012) of using effective ways to examine a theory already in practice. The selection of the case studies are based on the recently published Metro in Progress report (Roundtable Brussels, 2013) and the URBACT’s Metrogov research (Tosics et al., 2007) each studying 8 metropolitan areas. Flyvberg noted: generalising lessons from case studies is a critical step of the process as they are depending on the context (Flyvberg, 2006). After narrowing down the selection I decided to deconstruct information available in the form of comparable visual diagrams with acknowledgments to differences of each context. In that way I was able to develop a better understanding in the structures and agents of city-region to set up planning frameworks and delegating planning power. To recognise structural issues and forces mitigating city-region approaches I drawn upon Giddens’ structure-agency theory to develop an approach towards metropolitan case studies. Giddens argued on structures and agents conceptualising that formation and reformation of social practices as the duality of structure, where structure is both the facilitator changes and the result of people’s – agents with capacity to act within the social world – conduct (Tucker, 1999). Giddens stated that social reproduction of structures involves intended and unintended consequences of agents with freedom to act. The duality of structure results is that even though the structure – the governance system is acknowledged by agents; it is also subject to the consequences of actors conduct. Analysis of the case studies helped identifying structure dependent forces and limitations to form a practice oriented example base for the Budapest Agglomeration.


4. Rise of the City-regions: the evolution of a planning concept The following chapter has two main interconnected parts. The first part takes to the review of academic literature on the rationale of the city-region planning and explores challenges emerged to plans. The second part of this chapter summary the evolution of planning leading to strategic spatial planning in Europe and shows contemporary examples of selected case studies. It goes into more detailed comparison of 4 different metropolitan areas looking for differences in: (i) organisational structures, (ii) agents, planning powers and plans (iii), and basic statistical information (population, area covered). This chapter covers two main research objectives: 

Exploring the rationale of city-region planning from planning’s perspective by analysing the evolution of the city-region planning concept in Europe;

Assessing selected case studies of contemporary European metropolises to identify what metropolitan planning examples can show in planning practices, planning power delegation, governance structuring;

The review showed an increasing interest in understanding the connection between planning and metropolises, city-region. Studies and researches endeavoured to conceptualise city-region planning and list up all the features of good metropolitan governance structures and describe agents of planning powers. This dissertations wish to contribute to existing researches meanwhile going beyond them by identifying which necessary requirements to form city-region governance where decision making and planning power can be delegated. Implicitly it is aimed to define the main structure and agency barriers to draw a conclusion for the Budapest Agglomeration. Conclusions are drawn by evaluating findings of both main parts at the end of the chapter. 4.1.

The economic rationale of looking beyond boundaries

The realisation that in economical sense city (as marketplace) and countryside (as place of production) depends on each other emerged first in the works of the early classical economists. During the 19th century location theories such as David Ricardo’s land rent 32

theory (King, 2013), Von Thünen’s (1966) model of land use patterns in agriculture established that the relation between different locations for various purposes and uses has impact on spatial arrangement through the choice economic actors made. Alfred Weber’s location model (1929) expanded the scope of location choices by introducing the importance of the transportation for industrial production. Christaller’s (1966) central place theory in 1933 conceptualised a top-down, hexagonal hierarchy of settlements while emphasising the importance of range and threshold for retail. Losch (1954) highlighted the determining nature of travel to market catchment areas in 1940 using a bottom-up approach based on Christaller. The ‘Access-Space’ model of Alonso (1964) formulated a theory of residential location choices in regards to the city centre (Figure 12). Figure 13 Von Thünen (a) and Alonso (b)

Source: 15Illustrations based on Thünen (1966) and Alonso (1964)

The importance of these economic theories is that they helped to set up a conceptualised theoretical framework for their contemporaries in the dawn on planning. They raised awareness towards the connection between the market economy and spatial arrangement.



The forefathers: Howard, Geddes and Abercrombie

Ebenezer Howard and the Social City One

Figure 14 Model of the Social City




planning is Howard and his Social City (Hall, 2002). Howard dealt with




arrangement of functions and uses going





individual hypothetical city (Figure 13). This polycentric model of selfsustainable satellites, the Garden Cities





agglomeration around the central City connected to the core as well as to each other by a rapid transit system (Howard, 2009). Howard’s idea built on a new way of publicprivate relationship within local communities and economy while

Source: 16 Financial Times (2013)

produced a scheme for locating them spatially. In his blueprint land uses and functions were allocated within the scheme network of roles. The main directing principle for the allocation of the cities was based on their operational relationships – different roles played within a socially, economically viable whole system. By doing this the scheme laid down key principles of building on operational (or functional) interdependencies and diversification of roles (central, garden, farms and the green belt) and connectivity. The importance is that the plan of The Social City with its core city, the satellites and places between forming a whole spatial entity - defined by its functional connections paved the way of moving the focus beyond the city boundaries. Legacy of Patrick Geddes A different line of understanding spatiality transpired through Geddes (Hall, 2002). The term “conurbation” to define group of aggregated towns emerged as a label for cityregions. To analyse of the region linked together was based on the knowledge of the


active, experienced environment and on the reciprocity between humans and their surroundings. The method invented to explore relationships was the Regional Survey or Survey of Cities (Geddes, 2012) and based on the Valley Section model to visualise it. Figure 15 The Valley Section model depicting the city-region

Source: 17 Ferretti (2012)

This is a fundamental shift as it led towards a planning dealing with distribution of population and facilities reported in surveys to promote a vivid, creative life. The fact is that Geddes’s approach is a founding stone of the strategic planning in the sense that it builds on and pins down functions according to the survey fitting the plan to the spatial unit. While Howard set up a plan over the local scale to provide decent housing and access to green, open spaces, Geddes showed the way how to apply plans to a wider region by analysing functional connections (Figure 14). Abercrombie During the 1920-1930 on both side of the Atlantic planners attempted in vain to apply the concept of finding optimal spatial distributions of people and economies within metropolitan regions. While trying tackle over spilling effects of urban sprawl and car traffic congestions they met with practical difficulties to deliver plans (Hall, 2012). The New York Regional Plan displays the drifts toward forming rather additional urban extension instead of reinforcing or establishing new settlement and linking them up into their wider region. Abercrombie’s Greater London Plan in 1944 is the first big-scale success to handle a city region level plan marked a milestone. The plan created a new spatial order and gave definition and shape separated communities (Hall and TewdwrJones, 2011). The belt system and the new settlements inserted into the “realm” represented a plan working over city boundaries and placing them strategically around


the newly formed spatial unit (Figure 15). To deliver the plans a new type of authority was required which were able to coordinate local planning schemes. Figure 16 Abercrombie's Greater London Plan 1944

Source: 18 Hall and Tewdwr-Jones, (2011) pp. 65



Changing nature of metropolitan planning

Although, it is beyond the limits of this study to provide a detailed synthesis of planning a city with its region in the following decades the search for key to the metropolitan or the urban region (Lefevbre, 1991; Healy, 2007) has a long history. Defining the proper scale of the area planned for and finding the boundaries of the plan’s coverage in practice proved to be a difficult challenge: Hall and Tewdwr-Jones (2011) concluded that the level of government and its administrative unit where services can be provided effectively. Meanwhile area of places where communal consciousness and identity forms (Jenkins, 2005) are usually different than the area whose planning issues need to be understood and managed. Planning and contents of plans have been adapting till today to changes in scales and complexity producing different solutions in different places by becoming: more spatial setting frameworks and principles to guide location of development and physical infrastructure; and more strategic - guiding through the process of the spatial change (Figure 16). Figure 17 Evolution of the concept of planning as Spatial and Strategic activity

Source: 19 Healy (1997, pp. 26) and Healy (2007, pp. 180)

Transportation planning and economic evaluation of future outcomes became more and more important. The technological changes in the 80’s and 90’ caused shifting of locational choices of people and economic actors. The structural change in industries led to deprivation, rising unemployment and abandoned industrial areas in the cities (van den Berg et al., 1987). Suburbanisation became two folded: wealthy and poor also 37

appeared to move out and housing became increasingly pressing issue. Cycles of suband reurbanisation (van den Berg et al., 1982) combined with the attempts of regeneration and gentrification kick-in a high rate between the city and its surrounding area. Many aspects of the nature of this continuous change have been analysed in numerous academic sources in the last decades: Hall wrote about Stockholm’s General plan, the Schéma-Directour in Paris, the Fingerplan in Copenhagen, about the different ways of the Germany’s Landschaftsverbaude and Austria’s Umlands as advisory planning associations (2014). Van den Berg, van Klink and van der Meer reported on governance and planning Antwerp, Birmingham, Frankfurt, Lille, Lisbon, Rotterdam, Strasbourg, Valencia (1993); in Healy et al. (1997) looked at the Oresund Region, Lyon, Madrid, Lisbon, Zurich, Hordaland and Bergen, Friesland, Lancashire; Healy analysed the practice of Amsterdam and the Randstad, the La Grande Milano concept in Milan and the Cambridge Sub-Region (2007). The academic literature is much more extensive the EU efforts could also be mentioned to understand the metropolitan governance and territorial developments here starting with the ESDP (CEC, 1999) up to forming of research centres such as the ESPON European Spatial Planning Observatory Network –or the METREX, the Network of European Metropolitan Regions and Areas and their publications. 4.4.

Comparing planning in different city-regions

The selection of the case studies are based on the recently published Metro in Progress report (Roundtable Brussels, 2013) and the URBACT initiative’s Metrogov research (Tosics et al., 2007) each studying 8 metropolitan areas respectively. To get a comparable status I narrowed the selection by choosing metropolitan areas with population level closer to the for a potential city-region level based on the functional urban area as suggested by Tosics (2008). Another filter applied was to show governance structures and planning agents on different levels while acknowledging their individual circumstances. The finally selected of 4 metropolitan areas are: Stuttgart, Greater Manchester, Copenhagen and Malmo, Bucharest (Table 4). The research showed that metropolises – city-regions often form without formal instruments and competences to respond to social challenges at a metropolitan scale. Different governance structures were applied with different planning power delegation and representation in the individual cases. Private sector is increasingly becoming a 38

supra-local non state actor to be taken into account in shaping public policies. It has to be noted that identity and awareness towards the notion of city-region is not given and issues not always mitigated and looked at city-region scale. While Stuttgart and Greater Manchester operate on city-region level, Copenhagen and Malmo form the cross-border international Oresund region. Bucharest has a special situation; while its city-region has an administrative area with representative body it lacks the whole planning framework which would work on the city-region level. However in its first attempt to create a cityregion approach the city itself embraced metropolitan level research tasks and proposed a new spatial organisation for the Bucharest metropolitan area. The findings are presented in the following table showing the positive and negative nature of city-region governance structures as well as the main structural challenges they faced with in exercising planning power (Table 3). Table 3 Governance structures and challenges

Metropolitan area Stuttgart

Positive factors Strong political commitment to public participation and bottom-up initiatives

Greater Manchester

Different sectors created their own governance to join up in the form of local partnerships represented in decision making

Copenhagen- Malmo

Common political vision declared and adapted by the cities; Joint strategic planning approach executed on local level Real time GIS urban database to capture evidences on metropolitan level; attempt to establish an administrative city-region


Negative factors Decision making and competences are within a very rigid structure of government levels Not straightforward that there is no simpler way of organising stakeholders; Not proved yet in reducing social inequalities Cooperation did not penetrate through all levels because of different sectoral national laws

Lacking connections between local representatives and metropolitan area government; lack of supra-local strategic planning and cooperation


Structural challenges Finding a more flexible structure working with all relevant partners at all territorial levels Metropolitan identity is not formed fully; Changing the metropolitan quality of life across the cityregion

Two countries has different legislative approaches which results a very complex and difficult way to translate policies on local level Corruption and distrust between parties; Top-down imposed system; Local actors are not motivated; Lack of identity, Rejection of participation

Table 4 Comparing European metropolises

Source: 20 Roundtable Brussels (2013), Tosics (2007)




The literature review shows that economic models helped to understand the interdependence of markets between larger areas and form theoretical approaches to grasp the network of cities. Urbanisation were driven by impacts of people’s and market actors’ location choices via the growing network of transportation, housing, retail, industries and agriculture resulting lack of housing or access to open public land, unhealthy living conditions, traffic congestion and steep increase in population. Later new residential developments became more further from employment, local services and amenities bringing in new phenomenon: large scale commuting, increase in land prices and the spread of the functionally connected urban areas through administrative boundaries. Solutions applied in the examples shows that the search led them beyond the boundaries of their individual settlements to alleviate the detrimental effect of the over spilling urbanisation. They laid down key principles for planning on city-region level such as integration, evidence based approach, organised decision making and organisation to implement plans. The following decades witnessed the transformation of planning towards being more strategic and more spatial. Setting up frameworks and principles to guide location of development and physical infrastructure; and guiding through the process of the spatial change became basic requirements. New attempts were made to define the planned area and to raise awareness towards it. Public participation, public engagement was the next step which raised the importance of transforming government to governance which can include the newly acknowledged players. The pressure of urbanisation led to increasing integration of places to fully exploit opportunities while tackle negative externals. The need for mediating between local and national level policies and aspirations invoked supra-local / sub-national decision making and planning power delegation. This is the main rationale of city-regions: to set a conceptualised framework of thinking for an area woven together by many socio-economic connections. However city-region planning is not a panacea. It doesn’t always happen on scale of the functional urban area, administrative structures do vary between city-region and crossborder metropolitan region levels as the case studies show. When looking at different examples structural issues and forces mitigating city-region approaches have to be recognised. Giddens conceptualised formation and reformation of social practices as the duality of structure, where structure is both the facilitator changes and the result of people’s – agents with capacity to act within the social world – conduct (Tucker, 1999). 41

Governance structures as representations of the social order take shape in unique time and space dependent context, where planning framework and plans behaving as rules set for agents to follow. Agents in planning are the stakeholders involved on all levels. The duality of structure results that even though the structure – the governance system is acknowledged by agents; it is also subject to the consequences of actors conduct. A system could only be good as the agents are willing to use it appropriately, and misaligned structure leads to the reproductions of failures. Even established city-regions face with challenges of lacking identity, rigid governance structures, problems of interpreting national or metropolitan policies on local level, fragmented or lacking planning framework, and misallocation of planning powers, administratively imposed governance structure, ineffective implementation and token stakeholder engagement. Effective city-region planning requires an open governance system where it is possible to insert an organisational structure above local and under regional level. Examples show that the complexity of organisational structure of governance could exceed even 200 local governments. Therefore it has to be based on a seed of acknowledged social structure, without it city-region governance faces strong objections. The system of incorporating local governments has to be flexible to allow easy adaptation to changing circumstances while endorsed by higher levels to actors. This means that administrative boundaries of a city-region should be subject of functional connections as well as identity of local areas. Agents such as local governments, public and private stakeholders of the whole city-region have to be aware of the advantages of integration and cooperation and have to be motivated by negative experiences to want and embrace change. Without their active contribution the structure will face constant failure. The understand more deeply what influences agents’ behaviour within a given structure the next chapter will show experiences with the existing Agglomeration planning framework setup –the case of the plan without decision making or ownership.


5. Interviews and the internet survey This chapter explores and evaluates the findings of interviews and internet surveys. It is aimed to supplement literature reviews by drawing on stakeholders experience in the following research questions: 

Is Hungarian planning system capable to make impact on urbanisation processes to ensure that a mutual strategic vision is achievable? Can land-use planning transformed to a strategic and spatial planning?

Whether the Budapest Agglomeration is the appropriate spatial unit to address issues of metropolisation? How to find the boundaries for the planning framework of a city-region mediating between national and local level? How is it connected to morphological and functional urban areas, and economic influence areas?

Is strategic cooperation, partnership and stakeholder engagement effective under the current circumstances? Can it be institutionalised in a mutually agreed process? Who shall exercise the planning power?

Conclusion of both methods will be drawn at the end of the chapter by knitting together the different answers and their possible consequences. 5.1.

The interviews

The total length of the interviews is around 10 hours, therefore this part summarise up only the key points and places them into the frame of the research questions. Participants agreed that Hungarian planning system is lacking the necessary means to make a real impact on city-region scale. Land-use planning as a tool doesn’t encourage attaining strategic thinking when preparing their plans. One former chief architect stated that planners don’t have access to databases on agglomeration level or set objectives and figures; they don’t have feedback while politicians ‘need to see hard proof – evidences to believe that on longer time scale isolation causes more problems than advantages’. To transform land-use planning to strategic planning some suggested to link it up with EU funds by offering incentives for local governments joining up as it would mean more resources and establishing some kind of monitoring system in forms of time scales and set objectives. Former chief architect of Budapest especially condemned the separation of planning and development. In many case experts expressed that data collection especially on commuting and housing is a blind spot. In this system local municipalities could opt to go up to their limits, while accrued figures 43

would be monitored by ‘someone’. IBM Smart Cities’ consultant explained that integrated approach hasn’t taken fully roots yet. He gave examples of using IT technology to streamline urban data, but forming a comprehensive system for planning, or using it to pin-point extent of the FUA wasn’t one of them. Experts emphasised the importance of a metropolitan identity as a main motivating force to work together. However this is not true in all cases. The former deputy-mayor of Budapest said that ‘the city lost 250.000 people to the agglomeration’ – in effect a real Budapest centred view; while the mayor of Esztergom a city outside of the Agglomeration believed that her city already belong functional urban area. Participants noted a strong Budapest dominance, as the capital city’s administration has more weight in every decision due to their financial and administrative capacities- in comparison with a small town where only one planning works for example. Planners in general accepted that the ‘metropolis’ went beyond the agglomeration boundaries however there is no choice made on which extent supposed to be the one to plan for. The RICS Hungary chairman felt that only the morphologically connected areas are part of the real city-region even though from the perspective of businesses perhaps the wider economic urban area is important .The RICS Planning and Development chairman made a point to highlight that the agglomeration ‘is not just Budapest centred anymore, it forms strong cross connections, as well. One consultant said that ‘diversification of roles within the city-region would eventually lead to the realisation of interdependence’ and that ‘metropolis brand building would help overcoming the isolationist thinking’. On strategic cooperation and partnerships interviewees quoted different examples when local politics made it impossible to achieve developments which would have served the wider region: new lanes for the Budapest’s airport on the other side of the border were blocked by housing developments associated with a local mayor. Big retail company chain didn’t get building permission for lack of sufficient public transport; it went 600 meters off to the neighbour town and got one. A district chief architect suggested that top-down objectives and rigid regulation plans are narrowing their manoeuvring abilities and proposed a planning framework where only key topics are covered and laid on maps such as ecological corridors, environmental considerations, development and non-development zones, infrastructural and housing lands. Mutually agreed could reinforces local governments in their role and raise a sense of ownership towards a cityregion which isn’t the case now; because of the lack of representation, local communities don’t feel to be involved into decision making. A planner of Budapest city 44

stated that authorities are going ‘by the law’ but are not interested in solving disagreements. She also felt that Pest County and Budapest – representing two part of the agglomeration - seem to be as a two different realms – parties only inform the other and not consult. 5.2.

The internet questionnaire

The result of the internet questionnaire shows a very mixed picture (Appendix 6). Part 1 is inspired by Lefebvre’s labels of space: ‘perceived’, ‘conceived’ and ‘lived’ (1991). Respondents view on the he metropolis concept – a conceived, representative space – seemed to be widely differing. Answers describe that understanding is leaning towards associations of global cities, skyscrapers reigned skylines, traffic jams and commuting to work. Only 5 participants gave descriptions of theoretical concepts on the metropolis as an urban area matching academic literature reviews on city-regions. Map based perceived metropolis experience however shows that the majority feels that the cityregion is not just a big city, that the ‘limits of Budapest’ are beyond the borders of the capital city. The perceived urban area experienced through daily routines and interactions goes well into the Budapest Agglomeration or spreads beyond covering the functional urban area. Most of the participants do know about planning framework in place. They experience and understand that provision of services and access to amenities relies on interrelationships as not all ‘place’ can offer everything. It is clear for them that a level of differentiation of roles is needed and users have to commute, to move around to use them. They know that issues may be originated in other ‘places’ - over-spilling of negative externals exists both in the conceived and perceived city-region. However experience shows that in overwhelming majority of the cases the lack of communication and collaboration prevents effective mitigations. Views on strategic allocation of functions and uses of new developments shows that they are mostly not in the right place; for which one of the reasons is the efficiency of stakeholder involvement and the willingness to be heard and heed is critically low. This is tangible when looking at local and supra-local plans: competing interests are working against each other even within individual communities as well as between places. Respondents were pessimistic regarding public engagement and meaningful dialogues in planning processes – it seems to be tokenism.


In Part 2 participants were offered to go into more details on the planning framework in the Budapest Agglomeration. They were indirectly asked to share their thoughts on planning’s ability to be strategic and spatial. On the persuasiveness of plans and the inner-cohesion of the planning framework a more disturbing and contradictory ‘landscape’ emerges when looking at the responses as a whole. While more participants believe that planning and framework of plans have strategic qualities and favour long term social, environmental and economic benefits, they also think that: 

Planning and implementation as a process is top-down and only in some cases were possible to incorporate local development aims, objectives – there is no culture of ownership;

Plans do not meet with additional requirements generated by developments, even do they are included into the plans

Plans are prepared in isolation, without regards to wider spatial consequences and ignore possible over-spilling

Communication of plans is poor, they are hard to understand, full of jargon and doesn’t convey message;

Local plans do not thrive to achieve spatially balanced distribution on functions and uses;

New developments particularly housing, employment, retail and services are not aimed to create added value or attract future investments in the city-region;

Answers reveal that local development aims and objectives are dominantly seen as causes of significant conflicts within or between communities, as plan preparation is isolative and lacks effective stakeholder engagement. There is sense that only a limited ‘circle’ of parties are involved into decision making and even so choices are limited by above-the-local influencers. It also means that local governments have a strong top down experience, which is supported by respondents stating that there isn’t any willingness to coordinate and integrate bottom-up initiatives of local communities into supra – local plan level. Regarding the planning framework in general answerers’ views suggest that it is: 

Inflexible, rigid and can’t adapt to changing circumstances;

Less capable to inspire partnerships or cooperation and not inclusive;

Influenced more by daily politics and short term survival tactics that based on evidences of assessments of needs and demands or long term considerations; 46

Planners feel that during planning processes they are able to marshal resources to promote places and functions, but their efforts is more limited to reach out to market actors or form real partnerships. 5.3.


The results of the interviews and the internet survey proved that Hungarian planning system in its present state facing serious difficulties to make impact on urbanisation trends to ensure that a mutual future vision is achievable. This is mainly due to land-use planning practice which just started transforming to strategic spatial planning. Strategic cooperation, partnership and stakeholder engagement is not effective under the current circumstances as the main driving force is financial interest of local municipalities. The planning framework is fragmented with problems of coordination and cooperation both horizontally and vertically. Participants emphasised the need for a mutually agreed and institutionalised process of strategic planning with planning power delegated to a real representative body. Answers suggest that an inclusive and flexible planning framework is important to adapt easily to changing circumstances while keeping long term considerations in focus. There was a consensus that an acknowledged governance structure could inspire partnerships or cooperation and develop a shared common strategic vision. Strategic city-region level planning should work together with regulative local planning and both have to be based on evidences of assessments of needs and demands.


6. Conclusions and recommendations This chapter draws conclusions from the literature reviews on Hungarian urban planning and its relevance for the Budapest Agglomeration, the city-region planning practices of Europe and research findings of the interviews and the internet survey. Limitations of this dissertation are considered at the end of the chapter. 6.1.


This study set out to form an argument for city-region level strategic spatial planning which can address challenges of metropolisation more appropriately in the case of Budapest Agglomeration and leads to an improved planning framework. The aim of the dissertation is to help filling the gap between theoretical approaches and practical considerations. It does it by identifying key themes which can help forming recommendations for an improved Budapest Agglomeration. Critical assessment of the Hungarian planning system and the impacts of the metropolisation in the Agglomeration revealed that the existing framework of land-use plans – future looking strategic papers, structure plans and regulation plans – are not equipped to manage change through time, and lack strategic approach to allocate important uses according to assessed demands and needs. Strategic allocation of housing, employment lands and public transportation became an unachievable target. Planners considered being market actors as they shape the policies affecting development opportunities thus prices (RICS, 2012) and availability of lands as Adams and Tiesdell (2010) noted. In the case of the Budapest Agglomeration Colin’s criticism on Adams and Tiesdell proved that planning policies only preserved status quo and policies were ineffective when market forces were set against them (2014), thus preventing the formulation of a plan-led planning system. Evaluation of the rationale behind city-regions and city-region planning complemented with the case study of several European metropolises showed that city-region planning is not a panacea. Solutions to manage a metropolitan area can vary and to find the appropriate scale it has to reflect on local social structure. The governance in the Budapest Agglomeration is fragmented with problems of coordination and cooperation both horizontally and vertically (Appendix 8). Governance structures reflect social order take shape in a unique time and space context, where planning framework and plans are rules set for agents to follow. A system built on rivalry would only reproduce the 48

failures of the old one. Cooperation of the new consultation bodies – Pest County and Budapest city is only informing at its best. There is a need to mediate between local and national level policies and aspirations in sub-regional decision making and planning power delegation shall reflect on it. In the case of the Budapest Agglomeration the already formed agglomeration plan acknowledged some extent by all actors shall be the starting point to build up a city-region governance structure. Even though this artificial administrative area lacks a unified representation it is still known by people, acknowledged by legislation and part of the wider national planning framework. Its territorial delimitation not necessarily appropriate but built in flexibility to join could help in overcoming it. Research shows that the appropriate scale of the Budapest Agglomeration is the beyond its current extent: some suggesting the FUA, some the economic area. A representative governance body involving stakeholders and engaged with public and private spheres would give life and credibility to plans as well as provide a platform to cooperate and communicate with. A new governance body would be required to maintain a city-region wide data collections and evaluation system to ensure that decisions are evidence based and up-to-date and all data are accessible particularly by local planners.



The last research objective is to recommendations for the Budapest Agglomeration to achieve an improved governance structure and strategic spatial planning framework. Based on the research findings I have identified 3 key themes which can help achieve this objective: The nature of planning  The planning framework has to integrate local and supra local aspirations and derive from understanding how markets operate. Strategic aims and objectives has to be devised on city-region level, to be able to transfer it to local;  Boundaries of a city-region should be subject of functional connections as well as identity of local areas;  Planning needs to have an accessible monitoring system to get feedbacks, an IT system integrating local inputs of measurable figures on land take-up and uses developed can provide information and support city-region wide decision making with evidences; 49

 New technologies as mobile phone cell-data analysis can help tracking down commuting and to find the real extent of the functional area. Opposed to ad-hoc measurements and national census in every ten years, cell information is up-todate almost on daily base and provide a comprehensive picture of movement patterns. The structure of city-region governance  Effective city-region planning requires an open governance system where it is possible to insert an organisational structure above local and under regional level.  The research supports that the Budapest Agglomeration’s administrative entity could developed to form a new city-region planning entity.  Integration of local governments has to be flexible to allow easy adaptation to changing circumstances while endorsed by higher levels to actors.  Representative city-region body must reflect on the fact that even without nonstate actors there is more than a hundred local community to be represented, involvement of non-state stakeholders is also crucial;  Awareness and acknowledgement by actors is crucial to have an empowered governance structure in place;  City-region governance - in the lack of further power delegation from state – shall be foremost an alliance for planning the region, capable of realising common strategies and guideline for regulation plans to follow it. The agents of planning power  Current approaches don’t emphasise a city-region governance structure and the newly forming entities - would lack sufficient skills, tools and capacities;  Horizontally local level planning shall complement each other, while strategic level planning on city-region level should direct them in defining a wished future;  Capacity building is necessary to be able to conduct substantive analysis of trends and to interpret them for decision making. Defining an actual city-region, imagining a working sub-regional governance and devising a structure in which planning can perform better would require research of topics and engagement of people on a multiplied scale. Hopefully showing a path inspires others to follow.




Delving into several topics was beyond the limitations of this dissertation. While an abundant academic literature is available on European or British spatial strategic planning – this is not the case in the Hungarian urban planning. Concepts and new ideas usually emerge on empirical way. Lukovich (2002a) noted that one of the biggest challenges is to convey from English to Hungarian is terms used are often not interchangeable. Planning is often regarded as a side-branch of architecture (MUT, 2009) as opposed to the development planning as a social process articulated by Healy (Healy et al., 1997).The transfer of concepts is not straightforward between the two languages. The interviews The limitations showed up in the early stages as without face-to-face introduction the only way of approaching participants was via email. Emails of invitations sent from the Heriot-Watt university mailing system probably meant some assurance for readers, but the proportion ending up in spam or ignored remain unknown. Interview results are slightly biased towards the narrower circle of interviewees as none of the invited planning officer from settlements of the Agglomeration accepted my request. The internet survey The survey was accepting responses for only around one and half months. In this period I tried to use the most effective channels to distribute the survey and invite fellow planners to fill the questionnaire. Still people reached might not have necessarily immersed or interested in city – region planning. Personal visits might have led to more empirical experience from the planners working the agglomeration area.

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Appendix 1 – The Research Plan


Appendix 2 – The Guidebook: Key Topics







Appendix 3 – The Guidebook: interview participant list


Appendix 4 – The Guidebook: Data protection disclaimer


Appendix 5 – Internet Survey Questionnaire








Appendix 6 – Internet Survey Result






Appendix 7 – Key decision makers in the Budapest Agglomeration


MSc Thesis: The Challenges of the Lack of Sub-national Planning on City-region level: Budapest  

Hungarian planning struggles. Budapest and the Agglomeration is an administrative unit going through a rapid urbanisation. It has a plan but...

MSc Thesis: The Challenges of the Lack of Sub-national Planning on City-region level: Budapest  

Hungarian planning struggles. Budapest and the Agglomeration is an administrative unit going through a rapid urbanisation. It has a plan but...