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Public city, private interest: Facing the conflict of power and ownership in the field of planning practices in İzmir
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This thesis investigates exertion of power in planning processes with special attention to private ownership of urban land and conflict resulting from its negative impacts on urban commons. Research questions and confronts procedural claims of communicative planning ideology by focusing on actual planning practices. Communicative planning ideology is criticized for its universal, idealist and context free prescriptions. Research argues that actions in planning process involve both formal and conventional communicative mechanisms as well as informal, insidious and dubious practices. When private interests based on real estate ownership are concerned actors, their motives, and actions change significantly. Case study focuses on the case of a vacant urban land in the Central Business District of city of İzmir which was once a public property. What makes this land plot unique and interesting to study is that although several plan modifications, two protocols, and two competitions were put into implementation to transform the area into a commercial setting, all these attempts have ended in a spectacular failure. The main narrative of this thesis tells about this process and its failure by focusing on the planning processes. While doing this thesis also provides a criticism of planning theories. It is found that rather than theoretically prescribed forms of communication, strategic and tactical mechanisms of power relations dominate planning processes. It is believed that powerful groups realize their ends by trying all sorts of wiles. This research also aims at identifying these wiles. Findings revealed that there are other actions so influential on both substantive and procedural dimensions of city planning, but they are not acknowledged or simply downplayed by theory. Without a coherent understanding of actual planning practices, establishing and maintaining an effective planning system will have certain drawbacks. This research aims at contributing to efforts for improving spatial planning system in Turkey which is being distorted by rapid privatization and normalized plan modifications by exploring actual planning practices.