Coordinating planning with the market in post-socialist Sofia, Bulgaria

Keywords: planning-market relationship, post-socialist development, value capture tools, market-based instruments, fiscal zoning


Although the interaction between planning and the market in urban development has been the subject of extensive research, its treatment in the literature is still problematic and controversial. Issues regarding this interaction remain topical for post-socialist urban planners, who are still lacking sufficient experience with planning in market conditions, especially when it comes to practice. The contribution of this study is that it identifies two practical approaches, through which urban planners can coordinate plans with markets. First, when setting planning goals, planners must critically assess the relationship between these goals and market demand. If market demand is distorted by market deficiencies, planning must look for opportunities to counteract and rectify distortions, but if market demand properly reflects the interests of stakeholders in urban development, planning must critically reassess its definition of the public interest. Second, when developing urban plans, planners must employ fiscal (financial, monetary) and market-oriented tools for their implementation. To study these relationships, the paper explores different aspects of development in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, as Sofia is a relevant example of the urban trends in post-socialist cities.


Adams, D., Tiesdell, S. (2010). Planners as Market Actors: Rethinking State–Market Relations in Land and Property, Planning Theory and Practice, Vol. 11, No. 2, pp. 187–207.

Aghion, P., Akcigit, U., Cage, J., Kerr, W.R. (2016). Taxation, corruption, and growth, European Economic Review, Vol. 86, pp. 24-51.

Alexander, E. R. (2002). The Public Interest in Planning: From Legitimation to Substantive Plan Evaluation, Planning Theory, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp. 226-249.

Alexander, E. R. (2008). Between State and Market: A Third Way of Planning, International Planning Studies, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp. 119-132.

Alexander, E. R. (2012). Institutional Design for Value Capture and a Case: The Tel-Aviv Metropolitan Park, International Planning Studies, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp. 163-177.

Alfasi, N., Portugali, J. (2007). Planning rules for a self-planned city, Planning Theory, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 164–182.

Anderson, R. J., Hirt, S., Slaev, A. D. (2012). Planning in market conditions: the performance of Bulgarian tourism planning during post-socialist transformation, Journal of Architectural and Planning Research, Vol. 29, No. 4, pp. 318-334.

Asparuhov, S. (2020). Contemporary Features of the Industrial Architecture in Agricultural Areas. Sofia: ATL-50.

Bajić, T., Petrić, J., Nikolić, T. (2016). Fuel poverty and perception on housing and environmental quality in Belgrade’s informal settlement Kaluđerica, Spatium, No. 35, pp. 1-9.

Bakardjieva, T., Gradinarova, B. (2004). Application of Software Agents in Information retrieval in Virtual Learning System in Bulgaria, Advances in Information and Communication Technology, Vol. 145, pp. 178-181.

Bakardjieva, T., Gercheva, G. (2011). Knowledge Management and e-Learning – An Agent-Based Approach, International Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, Vol. 5, No. 4, pp. 360-363.

Balaban, O. (2012). The negative effects of construction boom on urban planning and environment in Turkey: Unraveling the role of the public sector, Habitat International Vol. 36, No. 1, pp. 26-35.

Bengtsson, M., Kock, S. (1999). Cooperation and competition in relationships between competitors in business networks, Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 14, No. 3, pp. 178-194.

Bertaud, A. (2004). The Spatial Organization of Cities: Deliberate Outcome or Unforeseen Consequence?. Working Paper 2004-01. Berkeley: Institute of Urban and Regional Development, University of California, Berkeley.

Bertaud, A. (2018). Order without Design. How Markets Shape Cities. Cambridge: MIT press.

Chauvet, L., Ferry, M. (2021). Taxation, infrastructure, and firm performance in developing countries. Public Choice, Vol. 187, pp. 455–480.

Cozzolino, S. (2020). The (anti) adaptive neighbourhoods. Embracing complexity and distribution of design control in the ordinary built environment, Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science, Vol. 47, No. 2, pp. 203-219.

Čolić, R., Milić, Đ., Petrić, J., and Čolić, N. (2022). Institutional capacity development within the national urban policy formation process – Participants’ views, Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, Vol. 40, No. 1, pp. 69-89.

Daskalova, D, Slaev, A. D. (2015). Diversity in the suburbs: Socio-spatial segregation and mix in post-socialist Sofia, Habitat International, Vol. 50, pp. 42-50.

Davchev, O. (2013). Ot nacionalna identichnost do generativna arhitektura (in Bulgarian), Arhitektura, No. 2/2013, pp. 12-15.

Davcheva, M. (2015). Alternativni reshenia na savremennite targovski centrove (in Bulgarian). Sofia: BAN, Institut za izsledvane na izkustvata.

Fischel, W. A. (1985). The Economics of Zoning Law: A Property Rights Approach to American Land Use Control. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Georgiev, L. (2021). Izchezvaneto na parkovete (in Bulgarian), Capital [online]. [Accessed: 14 Oct 2021].

Georgieva, S. (2015). Detski zavedenia i zhiznena sreda – integracionni procesi (in Bulgarian). Proceedings of the Sixth Scientific Conference on Spatial Planning – Problems and perspectives. Sofia: UACEG Publishing House.

Georgieva, S. (2016). Tendencii v izgrazhdaneto na detski zavedenia (in Bulgarian). Yearbook of UACEG, Sofia, Arhitektura i gradoustroystvo, Vol. XLIX, pp. 83-91.

Hirt, S. (2007a). Suburbanizing Sofia: characteristics of post-socialist peri-urban change, Urban Geography, Vol. 8, No. 8, pp. 755–780.

Hirt, S. (2007b). The Compact versus the Dispersed City: History of Planning Ideas on Sofia’s Urban Form, Journal of Planning History, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 138-165.

Huxley, J. (2009). Value capture finance. Making urban development pay its way. London: Urban Land Institute. (2022). Sredni ceni na prodazhba na imoti v gr. Sofia(in Bulgarian). Sofia: [online]. [Accessed: 15 Jan 2022].

Ivanov, V. (2018). Socialna infrastruktura (in Bulgarian). Sofia: UACEG Publishing House.

Kovachev, A., Slaev, A. D., Zeković, S., Maričić, T., Daskalova, D. (2017). The Changing Roles of Planning and the Market in the Processes of Urban Growth in Belgrade and Sofia, Spatium, No. 37, pp. 34-41.

Lai, L. W. C. (2005). Neo-institutional Economics and Planning Theory, Planning Theory, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 7-19.

Ministry of Agriculture (2012). Tarifa na taksite, koito se zaplashtat pri promyana na prednaznachenieto na zemedelskite zemi. 2002, last amended 2012 (in Bulgarian). [online]. [Accessed: 14 Oct 2021].

Moroni, S. (2004). Towards a reconstruction of the public interest criterion, Planning Theory, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 151-171.

Moroni, S. (2010). Rethinking the theory and practice of land-use regulation: Towards nomocracy, Planning Theory, Vol. 9, No. 2, pp. 137-155.

Moroni, S., Rauws, W., Cozzolino, S. (2019). Forms of self-organization: Urban complexity and planning implications, Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science, Vol. 47, No. 2, pp. 220-234.

National Statistical Institute (2012). Census 2012, Volume 3, Book 23. Sofia: NSI.

National Statistical Institute (2022). Naselenie i demografski procesi prez 2019 godina (in Bulgarian). Sofia: National Statistical Institute [online]. [Accessed: 22 Sep 2021].

Needham, B. (2000). Land taxation, development charges, and the effects on land-use, Journal of Property Research, Vol. 17, No. 3, pp. 241-257.

Nozharova, B., Nikolov, P. (2019). Existing policy framework to support the active mobility in Bulgaria. Strategies and regulations in Varna, Facta Universitatis, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Vol. 17, No. 3, pp. 159-171.

Peterson, G.E. (2009). Unlocking Land Values to Finance Urban Infrastructure. Trends and Policy Options, Vol. 7. Washington, DC: World Bank.

Petrić, J. (2017). Neighbourhood Attachment in Central and Peripheral Areas of Belgrade: Evidence from Stari grad and Kaluđerica, Annals for Istrian and Mediterranean Studies, Series Historia et Sociologia, Vol. 27, No. 2, pp. 295-308.

Roma Capitale (Rome Capital City) (2017) Circolare esplicativa: Determinazione del contributo di costruzione: Interventi di "NE", "DR", "AMP" e "RE". Roma Capitale [online]. [Accessed: 17 Jan 2021].

Slaev, A. D., Collier, M. (2018). Managing natural resources: Coasean bargaining versus Ostromian rules of common governance. Environmental Science and Policy, Vol. 85, pp. 47-53.

Slaev, A.D., Kovachev, A. (2014). Specific Issues of Urban Sprawl in Bulgaria. Journal of European Spatial Research & Policy, Vol. 21, No. 2, pp. 155-169.

Slaev, A. D., Kovachev, A., Nozharova, B., Daskalova, D., Nikolov, P., Petrov, P. (2019). Overcoming the failures of citizen participation: The relevance of the liberal approach in planning, Planning Theory, Vol. 18, No. 4, pp. 448-469.

Slaev, A. D., Nedović-Budić, Z. (2017). The Challenges of Implementing Sustainable Development: The Case of Sofia’s Master Plan, Sustainability, 9 (1), 15.

Slaev, A. D., Nedović-Budić, Z., Krunić, N., Petrić, J., Daskalova, D. (2018). Suburbanization and sprawl in post-socialist Belgrade and Sofia, European Planning Studies, Vol. 26, No. 7, pp. 1389-1412.

Sofia Metropolitan Municipality (2021). Otchet za izpalnenie na byudzeta na Stolichna obshtina – Prihodi (in Bulgarian). Sofia: Metropolitan Municipality [online]. [Accessed: 15 Jan 2021].

Taxation and Customs Union, EC (2021). Data on Taxation. Brussels: European Commission [online]. [Accessed: 16 Jan 2021].

Taylor, N. (1998). Urban planning theory since 1945. London: SAGE.

Vujošević, M., Zeković, S., Maričić, T. (2012). Post-socialist transition in Serbia and its unsustainable path, European Planning Studies, Vol. 20, No. 10, pp. 1707-1727.

Yanev, S. (2019). Grazhdanski organizacii nastoyavat prezastroyavaneto v Sofia da spre (in Bulgarian). Sofia: [online]. [Accessed: 16 Jan 2021].

Zeković, S., Vujošević, M., Maričić T. (2015). Spatial regularization, planning instruments and urban land market in a post-socialist society: the case of Belgrade, Habitat International, Vol. 48, pp. 65-78.

Original Scientific Paper