|Inner city blighted industrial sites are primarily associated with the general phenomenon of deindustrialization within the post-industrial inner city that is caused by spatial and functional restructuring of the industrial activity. Blighted industrial sites are vacant, obsolete, or underutilized industrial buildings, facilities and other related industrial functions and areas. Such blighted areas may have physical, functional, social, economic, and environmental impact problems both within the site, as well as on surrounding properties. Brownfield sites represent a severe form of blighted sites which include real or perceived environmental contamination. Brownfield redevelopment requires environmental clean-up to acceptable regulatory standards which may result in a costly process.
The general research goal is to achieve an understanding of this complex problem context as well as to establish the pertinent planning framework for redevelopment of blighted industrial sites within the Canadian inner city. The research process includes three parts. Part One includes an extensive preliminary literature review of brownfield redevelopment case studies in Canada, United States, and the United Kingdom. It also includes an outline of general planning theory and related interdisciplinary theories. The preliminary findings of literature review reveal a multiple component interactive problem context that indicates a need for an integrative planning framework addressing multiple problem components. The preliminary research findings for the planning framework are further studied and examined in four empirical case studies included in Part Two. The specific research objectives and research questions address three constituent parts of the planning framework including the nature of the problem context, potential policy directions, and the planning process. The central research question is “what is the appropriate planning framework and approach for brownfield redevelopment given a multiple component interactive problem context?
Part Three synthesizes the findings of Parts One and Two, which highlights the proposed planning framework for brownfield redevelopment, including an outline of major problems and policy directions based on impact evaluation by key participants in the empirical case studies, as well as outlining the main characteristics of the planning process. Some of the main problems and issues include site contamination and related legal liabilities, cost of site remediation that may exceed property value, stakeholders’ conflicting objectives, social stigma associated with brownfields, clarity and consistency of the environmental approval process as, community support. The proposed policy directions also represent multiple components and they are mainly as follows:
• To prepare an inventory of brownfield sites,
• To establish public-private partnership for project financing especially for site remediation,
• To develop self-financing mechanism (like TIF/TIEF) to finance cost of site remediation,
• To establish a redevelopment authority that is directly responsible for the process,
• To foster public-private-community collaboration and partnership,
• To secure accessibility of local residents to newly provided opportunities (like jobs),
• To adopt multiple-component integrative planning framework to link major problem components and planning sub-processes
The research findings also highlight the planning process being manifested at two main poles including the project developer and his consulting team, the public approval authority, in addition to community residents and interest groups that are involved in the public consultation process. The development approval process is the common organizational set-up and interface for stakeholders’ involvement in the process. The main characteristics of the proposed planning process include multiple-component multi-disciplinary context consisting of interactive planning sub-processes within each component, multi-level spatial contexts, involvement of multi-stakeholders with conflicting objectives and vision, incrementally adaptive, critical time and timing context, and mixed-rationality comprehensive planning vision. This research asserts the need for addressing the multiple components of environmental, physical, economic, social, and political planning without prior bias or predominance to any of these components. This also asserts the need for multi-stakeholder public-private-community collaboration and partnership.