(January 2010) What form of the SCBA-process will support planning practice best?

What form of the SCBA-process will support planning practice best? image
The SCBA has an increasing important and formalized role in Dutch planning practice for appraisal and is obligatory for large infrastructure projects (Annema, e.a., 2007). Nevertheless, the SCBA is heavily contested in Dutch planning and abroad (Annema, e.a., 2007; ECMT, 2003; Haezendonck, e.a. 2007) and experienced by many Dutch planners as a frustrating tool, especially when used for evaluation of infrastructure projects with a broader goal for economic development (Savelberg e.a., 2008). This research will focus on process related problems, which are for example the experiences of local civil servants and politicians that the SCBA is not transparent (black box) and is used too late in the planning process as a final assessment instead of learning tool. Similar process-related concerns are experienced in several European countries when using the SCBA (ECMT, 2003).

According to many scholars in planning theory, for example Owens (2004) and Innes (1998), these process-related problems occur when a technical instrument like the SCBA is being used in a multi-actor communicative planning process. Furthermore, acknowledged is that the technical rational and communicative rational approaches could and should be complementary. This knowledge leads to many attempts to integrate elements of the communicative approach within or complementary to instruments of the technical approach. This search for balance is necessary and not finalized jet, considering the ongoing tensions and frustrations in Dutch and European planning practices of appraisal of infrastructure projects with a wider goal for economic development.

The goal of this research is to find-out what form of the SCBA-process is most useful to support planning practice of infrastructure projects with a wider goal for economic development. A central hypothesis is that the SCBA can play an important and satisfying role for supporting the design and evaluation of regional infrastructural plans with a wider goal for economic development if the evaluation tool being is used as a learning instrument instead of final assessment. This hypothesis will be tested in Dutch planning practice. Firstly through case studies of finalized SCBA's and secondly through three case studies of ongoing SCBA's. In a following phase, the temporary results of a probable suited form of the SCBA-process to supporting the design and evaluation of regional infrastructural plans with a wider goal for economic development will be tested in focus groups in an experimental setting.

References
Annema, J. A., C. Koopmans, B. van Wee (2007). "Evaluating Transport Infrastructure Investments: The Dutch Experience with a Standardized Approach.", Transport Reviews 27 pp 125 - 150

European Conference of Ministers of Transport (2004) Assessment & Decision Making for Sustainable Transport OECD Publications Service

Haezendonck, E., (2007) Transport project evaluation, Extending the Social Cost-Benefit Approach Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham, UK

Owens, S., T. Rayner, O. Bina (2004). New agendas for appraisal: reflections on theory, practice and research, Environment and Planning A 36 pp 1943 - 1959

Innes, J. E. (1998). Information in Communicative Planning, Journal of the Americal Planning Association 64 pp 52 - 63

Savelberg, F., A. 't Hoen, C. Koopmans (2008) De schijntegenstelling tussen visie en kosten-batenanalyse, Kennisinstituut voor Mobiliteitsbeleid, Den Haag