(January 2010) Understanding the New Forms of ‘Strategic Spatial Planning’ in Theory and Practice

Understanding the New Forms of ‘Strategic Spatial Planning’ in Theory and Practice image

My research takes a point of departure in the new theorizations of spatial planning at the national and regional level (Albrechts 2004, Albrechts, Healey & Kunzmann 2003, Healey 2007).  The argument presented by these theorists is that a new approach to planning called ‘strategic spatial planning' is emerging.  This turn towards ‘strategic spatial planning' is build up by cases of ‘strategic spatial planning' in practice, particular at the scale of urban regions. 

In Denmark, planning practice at the national and regional level seems to be changing towards the direction suggested by these new theorizations.  This is a change that has been noticed by practitioners and academics since the beginning of the 1990s.  The change has become even more visible in recent (2006) national spatial policies, which articulates the New Map of Denmark as consisting of two metropolitan areas: the Greater Copenhagen Area/Zealand and Eastern Jutland.  Whether the changes in the nature of Danish ‘strategic spatial planning' correspond with the recent theorizations of ‘strategic spatial planning' in the literature has so far not been fully researched.   

My research project explores how we can understand the nature of the changes in Danish ‘strategic spatial planning', and how these changes correspond with the new theorizations of 'strategic spatial planning' in the literature.  I ask the following questions in my research: What is the nature of the changes in Danish ‘strategic spatial planning' in practice?  How is ‘strategic spatial planning' being theorized in the literature?  How do practice and theory correspond, and how does this help us to reflect on both?

My research focuses mainly on three sub-cases of Danish ‘strategic spatial planning', where initiatives towards spatial planning at a strategic level have recently been taken.  These regions are: the Eastern Jutland Region, the Greater Copenhagen Area and Region Zealand.  I have recently carried out a pilot study in these regions and I am planning to do further fieldwork this spring.   The case studies mainly build on interviews with key actors in the planning processes together with document analysis of spatial strategies produced in these processes.  The interviews take a point of departure in the following questions: How are content, scope and driving forces of planning changing?  How are planning processes being changed?  How are the ways, in which legitimacy is built changing? Additional empirical evidence such as minutes from meetings etc. will also be included to the extent that they are available to the researcher.   

References

 Albrechts, L. 2004, "Strategic (spatial) planning reexamined", Environment and Planning B, vol. 31, pp. 743-758.

Albrechts, L., Healey, P. & Kunzmann, K.R. 2003, "Strategic spatial planning and regional governance in Europe", Journal of the American Planning Association, vol. 69, pp. 113-129.

Healey, P. 2007, Urban Complexity and Spatial Strategies: Towards a Relational Planning for Our Times, Routledge, London.