It is widely accepted that spatial planning systems can play a central role in promoting sustainability through regulating land use, protecting and enhancing environments, and integrating the policy of other sectors around sustainability objectives. The Green Paper on the Urban Environment, and the 5th Environmental Action Programme `Towards Sustainability' identify spatial planning as one of the main instruments for the delivery of a more sustainable Europe.
Research on the operationalisation of sustainability in practice has identified key issues and principles that need to be embraced by spatial planning systems and policies. Other research on European spatial planning systems suggests that sustainability principles are becoming important factors in shaping planning instruments, procedures and policies, but that the full potential of spatial planning is not being achieved. This proposal draws together these streams of research and takes as its central focus the linkages between spatial planning and sustainability.
The objectives of the proposal are briefly, to examine the extent to which sustainability principles are being built into the systems and policies of spatial planning, and the reasons for variation; and to define the methods and tools necessary to develop the potential of spatial planning for the implementation of sustainability.
The work programme begins with a national overview of the conditions which structure the capacity of spatial planning to embrace sustainability in each of the Partner countries. This overview is later supplemented with more detailed evidence from a questionnaire survey of interests in spatial planning and development to identify, for example, the factors which prevent or encourage sustainable approaches in planning. Sustainability principles and concepts are then elaborated and used in an analysis of case studies in six different geographical contexts. These include two urban, two rural, one coastal and one area of special protection for the environment. The investigation will comprise first, content analysis of spatial planning instruments which apply in the areas to identify the `sustainability content'; and second investigation of a specific development projects to identify the role that the spatial plans have played in bringing about more sustainable outcomes, amongst other instruments and influences. A pilot study of one urban area will be conducted prior to the main investigation. Special attention is paid in the project to the need to bring together and synthesise the findings across different countries and topics.
The proposal meets the objectives of up-dated work programme by responding to the priority to improve the integration of environment into other sectoral policies. The European collaborative dimension is essential in this research because of the interdependence of policy and action on sustainability between different regions and countries, and the need for a multidisciplinary approach. The findings will contribute to the growing amount of transnational and national action on spatial planning for sustainability as well as the transfer of knowledge across the EU.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
6500 ED Nijmegen