The academic debate on metropolitan planning and governance is largely centered around countries of Western Europe. Yet, since the 1990s large urban areas in Central and Eastern Europe have also undergone a very dynamic functional and spatial transformation. The interdependence between political aspects of democratic transition after 1989 and patterns of the spatial development of metropolitan areas in Central Eastern Europe is a well-attested phenomenon. The decentralization process has been the important factor stimulating urban sprawl in CEE as it allowed the newly created, democratically elected local authorities to take over responsibility and control for spatial development. The expansionist spatial policies of suburban municipalities proved to be one of the most advantageous financial strategies, yet very problematic in terms of sustainable development. Although integrated spatial planning is much needed at the metropolitan scale, in institutional terms metropolitan areas were usually relative ‘losers’ in post-socialist state rescaling and restructuring of the planning system.
The empirical part of the paper presents metropolitan planning governance arrangements in their practical (which also means ‘political’) dimensions on the example of eight metropolitan areas in Central Eastern Europe of roughly similar size: Poznan, Wroclaw, Krakow (Poland), Brno (Czech Rep.), Bratislava (Slovakia), Cluj-Napoca (Romania), Dresden, Leipzig (Germany, former GDR). The primary data are based on direct interviews with planning officials, local political figures and academic experts within the metropolitan area, confronted with policy documents and statistical datasets. The main question to be answered is: are there any common post-socialist patterns of metropolitan planning and governance? And how much has post-socialist legacy shaped the current institutional model of metropolitan areas in CEE?
Keywords: metropolitan governance|post-socialism|spatial planning|Central Eastern Europe