Changing Direction: Defensive Planning in a Post-Conflict City
City: Analysis of Urban Trends, Culture, Theory, Policy, Action, 18:4-5, 455-462 (2014)
12 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2015 Last revised: 18 Oct 2015
Date Written: September 25, 2015
This paper examines of a number of documents recently uncovered from the Northern Ireland Public Records Office which show that the security forces played a key role in shaping the redevelopment of the city of Belfast in the 1970s and 1980s. The documents considered here provide conclusive evidence that urban planning played a key role as a counter-insurgency measure within Northern Ireland and that the involvement of the security forces in 'defensive planning' extended some way beyond that which had hitherto considered to have been the case. With the aim of creating a 'cordon sanitaire' around the main areas of conflict, the planning system within Northern Ireland was successfully harnessed to achieve the key military objective of spatially isolating large sections of north and west Belfast from the rest of the city. Significantly, the planning system very successfully achieved the objectives that were set for it by the security agencies. However, the legacy of this approach is that there are now large sections of the city isolated from the economic and social mainstream of post-conflict Belfast. This paper argues that what is now required is a reconfiguration of the planning system within the city to one which embraces the reflexive aspects of equality law in order to ensure that the planning system is steered in a different direction from one based on exclusion and segregation, to one that embraces social cohesion and integration. Only by adopting this approach it is argued, can the conflict transformation objectives of the 1998 peace agreement be realised.
Keywords: Defensive Planning, Reflexive Regulation, Segregation, Conflict Transformation, Belfast
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