This case considers
the planning process for creating a regional greenbelt to stem metropolitan growth and sprawl in Medellin, Colombia. While Medellin’s smart growth strategy could potentially lead to positive environmental and land use impacts for the region, the land chosen for a pilot greenbelt project happens to include a large informal settlement known as Comuna 8. Students will take on the role of a project planner advising the Medellin Planning Agency. This case explores the role of the short- and long-term political context for planning decisions, the role of advocacy planning, the time constraints involved with collaborative planning, and the positive and negative implications of smart growth strategies for different planning scales.

Planning Topics

land use planning, smart growth, informal settlements, collaborative planning, greenbelts, regional planning, displacement, social justice, environmental planning, advocacy planning

Learning Objectives

  1. Understand the tradeoffs planners face in advocating for diverse urban communities;
  2. Recognize the significant roles politics and election cycles play in municipal and regional project planning priorities;
  3. Consider the complexity of multiple and sometimes conflicting objectives and plans for the same community;
  4. Think about the possibilities for collaboration and innovative solutions in meeting mutual goals (between community groups, planners, and politicians);
  5. Appreciate questions of scale (local, regional, national, and even international) in planning problems and potential solutions;
  6. Identify the causes of and planning pressures that result from rural-to-urban migration stemming from internal-displacement

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Suggested Readings

  1. Horn, A. (2015). Urban growth management best practices: Towards implications for the developing world. International Planning Studies, 20(1-2): 131-145. Read the abstract
  2. Helene Zerah, M. (2007). Conflict between green space preservation and housing needs: The case of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai. Cities, 24(2): 122-132. Download the full paper
  3. Aguilar, A. (2008). Peri-urbanization, illegal settlements and environmental impact in Mexico City. Cities, 25(3): 133-145. Download the full paper