Prosperous cities in Europe have difficulties in offering sufficient affordable housing, they exhibit hot spots with socially deprived population groups, provided these groups have not already been displaced into the agglomeration. And yet city administrations do have a number of instruments at their disposal for countering (but also for reinforcing) these trends.

Lay summary

As principal investigator of an international SNSF project, I investigate the use of such instruments in three cities: Birmingham, Lyon, and Zurich. Urban zoning and building plans determine the permitted uses and plot ratios for each lot of the city, thereby defining the incentives and conditions for private developers. These plans also have an impact on possible housing policies, the creation of public parks or community centres. Departing from the urban planning concept of the "Just City" we explore the urban developments with regard to social hot spots, displacement, affordable housing and the set up of public amenities - from the 1990s to present.

By focusing on the facilitating actors, processes and democratic institutions, the issue of the "Just City" is firstly investigated from a political science perspective. We complement previous work on leadership, democratic accountability and participatory planning with an integral view for three cities featuring different national planning systems and local government systems. Results will be discussed with political decision makers, administrative agencies and political activists.