Urban megaprojects, nation-state politics and regulatory capitalism in Central and Eastern Europe: The Belgrade Waterfront project

29th Mar 2018

Urban megaprojects, nation-state politics and regulatory capitalism in Central and Eastern Europe: The Belgrade Waterfront project

A new paper by Monika Grubbauer and Nebojša ńĆamprag is now available online.

 

Abstract

In this paper, we explore how state-led regulatory planning is utilised to push for delivery of an urban megaproject (UMP) in the specific context of post-socialist Central and Eastern Europe. Our focus is on the large-scale brownfield redevelopment project ‘Belgrade Waterfront’ under implementation in the Serbian capital, a joint venture between the Republic of Serbia and Abu Dhabi-based investor Eagle Hills. We show this UMP to be an extreme example of state-led regulatory intervention, characterised by lack of transparency and haste in decision-making processes, all of which serve to prioritise private investors’ interests in project delivery above the principles of representative democracy. Through analysis of legislative and planning documents, expert reports and media coverage from the period between 2012 and 2017, we explore the legislative mechanisms, contractual strategies and modes of governance involved in the project’s delivery. This provides two insights: first, it reveals that, in contrast with the active role of local governments in conceiving entrepreneurial strategies that is often assumed today, in the case of Belgrade Waterfront, the national government has instead played the decisive role; second, it shows how modifications to national law were instrumental in defining public interest, in enabling certain types of contracts to become technically legal, and in minimising risks for the private investor. We conclude by highlighting the need to further conceptualise nation-state politics and autocratic rule as driving forces of urban development processes.

 

 

Read the full paper here.

 

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