Greater Istanbul metropolitan area planning experience (1965-1980)

Implementation of a strategic planning approach


  • S. Guven Bilsel Karatay University
  • F. Cana Bilsel Karatay University



Following the enforcement of the Urban Development Act in 1956 and the foundation of the Ministry of Reconstruction and Settlement in 1958, the first regional plan was developed for the Eastern Marmara Region in Turkey. The regional plan, which was prepared by the Ministry of Reconstruction and Settlement, in collaboration with the State Planning Office aimed at directing the industrial developments, the distribution of the industrial population and defining the hierarchy of urban settlements in the region respectively. The Regional Plan proposed an urban and regional infrastructure and a linear settlement development model for the Greater Istanbul area for the first time. The cities in Turkey were subject to a rapid urbanization due to a continuous flow of population from rural areas to the cities, which accelerated after 1950s. As a result, a multiplicity of new municipalities outside the existing limits of the major cities were formed, which necessitated a holistic planning in metropolitan scale. With this objective, three metropolitan planning offices were established for the major cities, Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir under the Ministry of Reconstruction and Settlement.

In continuity with the principal decisions of the East Marmara Regional Plan, the planning studies for the Greater Metropolitan Area of Istanbul started with the foundation of Greater Istanbul Metropolitan Planning Office in 1965. The distribution of population between European and Asian sides of Istanbul metropolitan area was studied, and a linear pattern of settlement units separated by green areas was adopted in line with the regional plan. A strategic planning model was adopted in the last stage of the metropolitan planning. Based on an extensive survey, the demands of different sectors were defined. Alternative development strategies and scenarios were proposed with regard to the demands of the sectors. Beginning with the regional planning scale, the distribution of the residential and working areas, different strategies were tested with respect to their performances in achieving the initial development objectives. Based on an extensive data, projections, and regional development strategies updated, a plan that could guide the urban development policies was achieved. The metropolitan plan was completed and approved by the Ministry in July 1980.

The Metropolitan Plan of Greater Istanbul constituted the first metropolitan plan, in Turkey, where the strategic planning approach was applied by comparing alternative development strategies. However, it could not be implemented properly as the planning authority was transferred to the Greater Municipality. Yet, with its holistic approach, this metropolitan plan that defined strategies of urban development and natural and urban conservation in metropolitan scale, could have prevented unplanned, piecemeal operations if it could be implemented. In the present paper, the metropolitan planning experience of Greater Istanbul is studied with a focus on the 1980 master plan. The role of the planning decisions in the urban development of the metropolitan city will be discussed at the end of the paper.




How to Cite

Bilsel, S. G., & Bilsel, F. C. (2018). Greater Istanbul metropolitan area planning experience (1965-1980): Implementation of a strategic planning approach. International Planning History Society Proceedings, 18(1), 701–708.