Passion for strategic spatial planning has too rarely endured, thus undermining precisely what it needs, which is a long term perspective.
So often startegic planning is disregarded or under-resourced, but used effectively it could provide a means of delivering inclusive and sustainable development. Therefore research by a practising planner on effective strategy-making is welcome. Jan Vogelij has many years experience both in his native Netherlands and as a past President of the European Council of Spatial Planners (ECTP_CEU). Thus it was an act of bravery bordering on masochism to commit to researching for a PhD at the Technical University of Delft. Dr.Vogelij gained the qualification he deserved, but has also benefitted the planning profession by creating a rigorous assessment of the circumstances under which strategic planning might – and might not – prove effective. His PhD thesis has been published as a book.
From Bologna to Glasgow – five case studies
The empirical core of Vogelij’s work is a series of case studies, that drew on publications and materials on websites but also interviews with stakeholders. Vogelij selected his cases by asking ECTP-CEU colleagues to identify examples of successful strategic decision-making. Thus, each sat within a specific national / local context, and implicitly had been judged against different, context-specific criteria. A long list of 13 was whittled down to five, which between them represented different planning traditions within Europe.
The Piano Strutturale Comunale di Bologna sits in the “urbanism” model of planning that typifies southern Europe. The Drechtstreden 2030 was a cooperation project involving eight municipalities round Dordrecht in the south of Holland, and in the Dutch comprehensive integrated tradition. The Glasgow and Clyde Valley Strategic Development Plan is part of the UK’s land use management approach to planning. Grödental is in the Dolomites of North Italy and commissioned a Master Plan which became the Vision Gherdeina. Five local councils were involved, and though in general Italy exemplifies the urbanism model, this was an innovation that Vogelij deems to be more akin to the comprehensive integrated style of planning. The fifth case study was in Meetjesland, a rural sub-region in the north-east of Belgium, In terms of planning cultures this was the most tricky one to nail down. It is a regime a bit like the land use management of the UK, but very permissive – a poisonous cocktail when it comes to strategic spatial planning!
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