Planning for peacebuilding in contested cities: a needs-based analysis in Belfast and Jerusalem
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This research project is primarily a case study about planning practice and its affect on peacebuilding activities in Belfast and Jerusalem. The primary method of data collection is semi-structured interviews with planners, policymakers, and community leaders involved in peacebuilding activities in the study cities. The primary data collection is triangulated with a literature review and a number of supplementary planning documents, books, and videos on the subject matter. The data has been analyzed using the lens of fundamental human needs, as laid out by Max-Neef, who sees all human needs as equally important rather than hierarchical as some human need theories are. Both Belfast and Jerusalem have centralized planning systems based on the British Town Planning model. Planning in both cities is frequently viewed as a contentious issue, most especially around housing issues. In both cities, one population group is characterized as “bursting” at the seams in terms of housing need, while the other population group feels endangered. Security issues are critical in both cities resulting in the building of security barriers, which ultimately change patterns of free movement in the city and affect the imagined city of both sides of the conflict. The barriers affect the ability to meet other fundamental human needs as well, such as the need for participation and understanding. Despite the clear problems in these cities, there are some indications of success as well. Northern Ireland ran a hugely successful public consultation on the direction the citizens want the government to go in. The resounding answer was for a shared future and some planners and urban leaders have taken this to heart and are working hard to build and define shared spaces in the urban fabric. This work is happening at all levels of the community and several excellent projects have been a positive result of cross-community work aimed at building understanding. In Jerusalem several organizations and various planners are working on similar goals to empower the disadvantaged Palestinian community and instill more justice in the planning system.