Planning, Design and Managing Change in Urban Waterfront Redevelopment

Gordon, David L. A.

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Gordon, D. L. (1996). Planning, design and managing change in urban waterfront redevelopment. The Town Planning Review, 261-290.

Planning issues for urban waterfront Redevelopment projects are examined in this paper, based upon case studies in New York, London, Boston and Toronto. The research programme was based upon over 100 interviews with key actors in the four cities. The paper is oriented towards practical problems in the implementation of planning. It generally considers the perspective of the redevelopment agency to consider waterfront planning and development techniques. The specific issues which are addressed include changing the waterfront's image, improving accessibility and controlling the quality of the physical environment. An incremental approach to implementation is recommended, with emphasis upon controlling the quality of the public realm and the role of urban design guidelines to guide private development.

Main finding
The urban waterfront in the post-industrial cities New York, London, Boston, and Toronto were subject to a large scale transformation to improve the image of the area. Due to the decline of the port-related activities, the area suffered from isolation and decay. The historic preservation and public access strategies implemented by the redevelopment agencies were analysed to draw lessons related to planning. The results show that the opposing interests occurred between the redevelopment agency (urge for flexibility) and the local government (urge for certainty). This conflict can be eased by applying an incremental urban design approach. This involves focus on the quality of public space and general guidelines for building sites.

Description of method used in the article
Two methods were used: - 6-8 weeks residency in each city. In total 105 interviews were held with agency chief executives (20), agency senior staff servants (19), citizens and consultants (21) and developers (11). - analysis of financial, political and planning documents that was developed into a longitudinal case history for each city, which was then reviewed by two actors with opposing viewpoints.

Policy implications

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