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The Future of Collective Farms' Built Social Infrastructure: Choosing Between Central Place and Network Theories

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The aim of this paper is to discuss local and regional planning and development practices in a post-socialist country such as Estonia. Two approaches — central places and network theories — are used as a conceptual basis. According to the first hypothesis, planning and development of social infrastructure (e.g. schools, sports halls) has remained based on the central place theory — as an outdated planning approach — in Estonia. The second hypothesis argues that while, on the one hand, the application of the network paradigm and increased cooperation between local communities would considerably save public resources, on the other hand, because of the path dependency of Soviet centralized planning and development practices, the networking and lobbying takes place vertically rather than horizontally. This restricts both administrative cooperation and networking on the local and regional levels. The paper consists of three parts. The first part describes the turn in Western planning theory: the shift from normative top-down planning to a bottom-up approach and networking. The second part analyses critically the Soviet and post-Soviet planning theory and practices: the planning and development culture created during the Soviet era. Finally we present a case study of a community planning procedure in the Suure-Jaani locality — a good example of the influence of historical changes in the settlement system and planning culture of the past on current development.
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Keywords: Social infrastructure; ad hoc solutions; central place theory; networking; regional and local planning

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Tartu Pärnu College 2: University of Tartu, Institute of Geography

Publication date: October 1, 2005

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