The preparations for the May Spatial development Forum “Harmony in Complexity” started in Saint Petersburg. At the first strategic session that took place on April 15th, representatives of the authorities, academic and business communities discussed question of the long-term planning of region development. Main topic of the coordinative meeting was the review of the priorities of future work.
As Saint Petersburg and Leningrad region are different constituent entities of the Federation, different administrative structures plan their development. Now, work of municipal and regional authorities adjoin within the strategy of complex development of Saint Petersburg surrounding area; but the separate decision making processes might cause difficulties in the future. Furthermore, role of expertise and circle of influence of business and science in the process of planning are not defined.
Alexander Govorunov, vice-governor of Saint Petersburg, points out that megalopolis requires regular immediate decision making in urban and spatial development planning. Participants of the Forum need to reach the balance between modern development and cultural heritage preservation, before strategy and concept designing.
“We are not always aware of the long-term outcomes of our decisions. But in a long run today’s urban development and city master plans would make more sense, - assumes Alexander Govorunov. – Saint Petersburg has an immense academic potential that should be unlocked in this process. Upcoming Forum might become a primary platform for cooperation of authorities and science in strategic plans for urban development in transportation services, architecture, ecology and others”.
Vladimir Nikiforov, pro-rector of the academic research of ITMO University, also admits the importance of the collaboration of the municipal authorities with the academic community. Metropolis life planning in 21st century cannot be reduced only to architectural design approval, followed by further construction. “Smart” city requires application of the advanced technologies for the logistics, transportation of the energy supply system and the large-scale implementation of infocomms. There is no such scientific centre that could implement innovation on a city scale on its own, therefore the mechanism of participation of all the members of regional development should be introduced.
Participants of the discussion agreed that Saint Petersburg and Leningrad region need a common center for coordination of the decision making process. Vladimir Khodirev, chief executive of research and production association “Tetrapolice” suggests reconstituting the State Planning Committee of the USSR in a modern format as a solution to the problem. The expert thinks that such method of organization through planning might form a positive dynamic for country development due to the stimulation of branches of private entrepreneurship, necessary for the State. Grigory Yavlinsky, leader of “Yabloco” floor at the Legislative Assembly, presented a draft of the strategy for interaction between the federated states: long-term strategy “Big Saint Petersburg” became the central point of the discussion in the second day of “Harmony in Complexity” Forum. The politician admitted that the document might create a predictable future of the region, so important for entrepreneurs and investors. What is more, the project reconciles city and region views on urban development, economic and social issues.
“I often hear that it is difficult to cross the lines of constituent territories of the federation during the planning processes. This regulatory constraint is artificial because Saint Petersburg and Leningrad region constitute a living body, - Yavlinsky emphasizes. When we limit ourselves to this approach, we cannot find rational solutions to a number of problems”.
Next strategic session took place from April 18th to April 21st. There participants discussed research project «UniverCity» and the possibility of creating a university cluster within the context of spatial and socioeconomic development of Saint Petersburg. The “Harmony in Complexity” Forum took place on May 20th-24th, 2015. Government of Saint Petersburg and Administration of Leningrad region, Board of rectors of Saint Petersburg Higher Education Institutions and the Institute of Design and Urban Studies of ITMO University organized the event.