Planning, Platforms, Participation: City Resilience and Illegal Drugs in Belfast

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Abstract

Recent interventions in planning theory discuss the merits of resilience. This paper offers a contribution to this debate through an analysis of a city embarking on its maiden resilience journey. Like other cities around the world Belfast suffers similar environmental, economic and social problems (e.g. flooding, unemployment and exclusion). However, there is a distinct uniqueness in that Belfast is still struggling with the toxic fallout from its violent socio-political history - ‘the Troubles’ - and subsequent sobriquet as a ‘post-conflict city’. Despite progress on peace and reconciliation it remains to a large extent deeply divided and socially segregated. This paper shows that illegal drugs are a ‘chronic stress’ not yet adequately analysed in local resilience deliberations, and claims that until this is properly problematised then Belfast’s future Resilience Strategy will struggle to deliver transformative change for the areas adversely affected. We are also concerned that a predictable policy agenda scripted by influential voices renders this pressing priority of the city’s silent citizens unheard in Belfast’s resilience discussions. To combat this, we suggest that sentiment platforms would prove to be a more effective participatory method for planning in lending life to the ‘lived experiences’ of those impacted by the drugs problem.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)320-339
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Planning Studies
Volume25
Issue number4
Early online date25 Apr 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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