Deputy Head of Urban Economics Division / City Development Department
RIGA CITY COUNCIL
Ljeta Putane is the Deputy Head of the Urban Economics Division at the Riga City Development Department in Latvia.
The Development Department is responsible for all strategic and territorial planning in the city and has recently embarked on an ambitious programme to design Riga Territorial Plan 2018-2030, comprised of 11 thematic plans that cover topics ranging from green spaces to housing policy and transport.
One of these plans, initiated by the public, is focused on the development of the Freeport of Riga, recognising its economic as well as environmental impact on the city. Ljeta has defined and manages this thematic plan based on an innovative process focused on wide stakeholder engagement and collaborative development.
Prior to joining the Riga City Development Department Ljeta worked in London for Savills, one of the largest planning consultancies in the UK and Bryanston Square, an Education Consultancy that designs and builds better functioning schools. Ljeta holds a degree in Town and Country Planning from the University of Manchester.
This paper will discuss how community involvement has been key to the planning process of the Freeport of Riga, the leading port in the Baltic States. It will argue that bottom-up planning has resulted in a more balanced plan with tangible solutions and effective implementation. Last year Riga municipality started its work towards a new spatial plan that would be comprised of 10 thematic plans, each addressing a specific topic such as housing, transport, etc. However, in the early stages of consultation, the public asked to see a separate thematic plan that would be solely focused on the development of the Freeport of Riga. The municipality welcomed this initiative as lately there had been an increased concern over the Freeport’s effects on the surrounding environment and the citizens’ quality of life. Equally though the port is a major economic driver providing opportunities for people and businesses alike. With this in mind, it was clear that there is a need for a plan that would strike a balance between the needs of the citizens and those of the port. To achieve this, it was crucial that the public is involved in all stages of planning. This paper examines the different ways in which the community has participated throughout the planning process by helping the municipality arrive at a more comprehensive thematic plan that will improve the city - citizen - port relationship. It will also discuss the challenges and benefits that arose from a community led planning in this particular case.