Crisis in Turkey linked to Urban Planning

We have received alarming messages from Dr. Ümit Özcan, Vice President of SPO (Turkish Chamber of City Planners) and we are supporting them in the best possible way.

Internationally, professional and non-governmental organizations are responsible for the protection and development of public benefits, goods, spaces and services. The ECTP-CEU has become increasingly aware that, with respect to these democratic responsibilities to the society, the Chamber of City Planners (the recognised professional planning organization in Turkey) has been struggling to ensure that plans and projects within Turkey are compliant with planning rules and laws in order to deliver a range of public participation and benefits.

Unfortunately the decision processes in Turkey seems to have fallen short of what is required and has resulted in the filing of almost 600 lawsuits in order to protect the public interest. These problems have also given rise to peaceful protests and demonstrations. The ECTP-CEU is concerned that despite this the response from the Government, after a first step of discussion, has been confrontational.
Especially the government actions against Chamber of City Planners members in Istanbul Branch have created a deep concern on ECTP-CEU and for our member countries.

The persistent processes as well as project implementations in Turkey that have been closed to the public participation seem controversial. However we are also concerned that the basis of the proposals seems to have not stood up to perfect technical scrutiny. For example, it appears that there were many objections from professional organizations to the plans of the 3rd Bridge of Istanbul, which was accomplished by the government with a groundbreaking ceremony on 29 May 2013. After millions of trees were cut down for building the bridge pier and the connection to the main roads, these plans have been cancelled by the government itself on 11 July 2013 because these installations were built at the wrong place.

This very recent example raises the concern that, the planning practice in Turkey could be in direct conflict with the international principles of planning science and practices. These include not only those promoted by the ECTP-CEU itself through its 2013 Charter of European Planning but also those of the European Union, for example , the Leipzig Charter and Toledo Declaration.

Click here to read the report drafted by Duygu Cihanger about the urbanistic problem, origin of the current social conflict in Turkey. It includes maps and photos very illustrative of the history of the square and the urban proposal.