The evolution of planning thought in Serbia: Can planning be ‘resilient’ to the transitional challenges?

Ana Peric


Planning is deeply embedded in a specific planning context: it implies not only planning system – institutional, legal and regulative framework of planning policies, but also planning culture – steering styles, norms, values, belief systems, visions and frames of the actors involved in the planning process. In recent decades the planning context changed as well in the western world as in developing countries. New approaches, instruments and tools have been developed and implemented. However, there is a great difference in the extent of implementation of innovative planning approach depending on a certain societal setting. Thus, it is a challenging task to observe the planning change throughout a transitional context. As evolutionary resilience is understood as seeking opportunities out of crises, the aim of this research is to identify the elements important for making the planning ‘resilient’ throughout transitional periods. To illustrate such an approach, the case study of Serbia – the state that has undergone the turbulent transformations in terms of its political, socio-economic and, consequently, planning system and practices, is chosen. 

Before proceeding with the overview of the planning system transformation in Serbia, a general framework made of factors affecting the evolution of planning thought are briefly presented: in addition to the mentioned systemic factors (laws, government, political and economic/market forces) and planning culture – the influence of local politics, local context and individuals or ‘movements’, will be shortly explained. Further, since the relationship between past, present and future is crucial to understand the nature of evolutionary process, the case study will be analysed through a brief historical overview of the planning evolution in Serbia, through: communist period (until 1989), post-communist phase (until 2000), and a contemporary period (until present). In order to achieve the analytical coherence, all the evolution stages will be observed through the lens of: context (prevailing ideology, state system), planning practice (and products of planning), and planning process (i.e. methodological approach). The contemporary planning modus in Serbia will be illustrated with a distinct example of the “Belgrade Waterfront” project, thus elucidating the contradictory interests and manifold influences of market, political, community and professional demands. The paper will end with highlighting the crucial factors for improving the ‘planning resilience’ within transitional systems, being these in the domains of stakeholder collaboration, position of planning expertise, or nature of governance arrangements.

Full Text:



Davoudi, Simin. “On Resilience.” disP - The Planning Review 49 (2013): 4–5.

Djukic, Aleksandra and Aleksandra Stupar. “Globalizing the Belgrade Waterfront: Mega-projects for a Sustainable Development?”. In Proceedings of the 50th ISOCARP Congress “Urban Transformations: Cities and Water”, ed. Amos Brandeis (Gdynia, Poland, September 23–26, 2014), 205–212. Hague: ISOCARP, 2014.

Dühr, Stefanie, Claire Colomb, and Vincent Nadin. European Spatial Planning and Territorial Cooperation. London: Routledge, 2010.

Getimis, Panagiotis. “Comparing Spatial Planning Systems and Planning Cultures in Europe.” Planning Practice and Research 27 (2012): 25–40.

Healey, Patsy. Collaborative Planning – Shaping places in fragmented societies. London: MacMillan Press, 1997.

Healey, Patsy. “The universal and the contingent: Some reflections on the transnational flow of planning ideas and practices.” Planning Theory 11 (2011), 188–207.

March, James G., and Johan P. Olsen. “The New Institutionalism: Organizational Factors in Political Life.” American Political Science Review 78 (1984), 734–749.

Marinovic-Uzelac, Ante. Teorija namjene povrsina u urbanizmu [Land Use Theory in Urbanism]. Zagreb: Tehnicka knjiga, 1989.

Maruna, Marija.“Can Planning Solutions Be Evaluated without Insight into the Process of their Creation?”. In Proceedings of the REAL CORP 2015 Conference “Plan Together–Right Now–Overall”, eds. Manfred Schrenk, Vasily Popovich, Peter Zeile, Pietro Elisei, and Clemens Beyer (Ghent, Belgium, May, 15–18, 2015), 121–132. Vienna: REAL CORP, 2015.

Nedovic-Budic, Zorica, and Branko Cavric. “Waves of planning: A framework for studying the evolution of planning systems and empirical insights from Serbia and Montenegro.” Planning Perspectives 21 (2006): 393–425.

Nedovic-Budic, Zorica, Slavka Zekovic, and Miodrag Vujosevic. “Land Privatization and Management in Serbia – Policy in Limbo.” Journal of Architectural and Planning Research 29 (2012), 307–317.

Peric, Ana, and Marija Maruna. “Predstavnici drustvene akcije u procesu regeneracije priobalja – slucaj braunfild lokacije ‘Luka Beograd’” [The Representatives of Social Action in Waterfront Regeneration – the Case of the Brownfield Site ‘Belgrade Port’], Sociologija i prostor, 192 (2012), 61–88.

Peric, Ana. “Institutional cooperation in the brownfield regeneration process: Experiences from Central and Eastern European countries.” European Spatial Research and Policy 23 (2016), forthcoming.

Rydin, Yvonne. “Re-Examining the Role of Knowledge within Planning Theory.” Planning Theory 6 (2007), 52–68.

Schmidt, Vivien Ann. “Discursive Institutionalism: The Explanatory Power of Ideas and Discourse,” Annual Review of Political Science 11 (2008), 303–326.

Verma, Niraj. (Ed.). Institutions and planning. Oxford, UK: Elsevier, 2007.

Vujosevic, Miodrag. “Collapse of strategic thinking, research and governance in Serbia and possible role of the spatial plan of the Republic of Serbia (2010) and its renewal.” SPATIUM International Review 23 (2010), 22–29.

Vujosevic, Miodrag and Ksenija Petovar. “Javni interes i strategije aktera u urbanističkom i prostornom planiranju,” Sociologija i prostor 190 (2006), 357–382.

Vujosevic, Miodrag and Zorica Nedovic-Budic. “Planning and societal context – The case of Belgrade, Serbia.” In The urban mosaic of post-socialist Europe: space, institutions and policy, eds. Sasha Tsenkova, and Zorica Nedovic-Budic. Heilderberg: Springer, 2006.

Vujosevic, Miodrag, Slavka Zekovic, and Tamara Maricic. “Post-socialist transition in Serbia and its unsustainable path.” European Planning Studies 20 (2012), 1707–1727.

Zekovic, Slavka, Miodrag Vujosevic, and Tamara Maricic. “Spatial regularization, planning instruments and urban land market in a post-socialist society: The case of Belgrade.” Habitat International 48 (2015), 65–78.


Copyright (c) 2016 Ana Peric

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.