Law and policy of historic preservation: An international comparative Analysis

Rachelle Alterman and Nir Mualem

Across the globe, more and more countries and city governments are adopting laws and policies to promote the preservation of their built heritage. However, underneath the surface, bubbling debates surface and resurface. The conflicts may vary in types of contested issues and degree of severity. In many countries, judicial or quasi-judicial bodies are increasingly being called upon to resolve such conflicts. Although the Tel Aviv White City declaration has proceeded in a relatively consensual manner, conflicts over preservation efforts elsewhere are expected to be more acute in Israeli society.

For planning tribunals, historic preservation presents an especially tough challenge. The rationale for preservation is almost entirely based on a complex, often enigmatic mix of aesthetics, ideologies, or particular historic narratives. However, while the specifics of preservation contexts and policies may differ, the challenges faced by planning tribunals are similar across countries: How can they better understand these conflicts and contribute to their resolution?

The overall aim of the research is to develop a body of knowledge intended to facilitate cross-national learning among legislators, decision makers, urban and legal professionals. There are three specific research objectives: first, to develop a generic theoretical framework which will help to identify the dimensions of conflicts over historic preservation ; second, to learn how quasi-judicial planning tribunals in selected countries handle the underlying conflicts in historic preservation cases; third, to compare and evaluate how the planning tribunals attempt to resolve such conflicts. The comparative analysis is expected to yield some insights about similarities and differences in the dimensions of the conflicts.