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Spatial planning refers to the methods used by the public sector to influence the distribution of people and activities in spaces of various scales. Discrete professional disciplines which involve spatial planning include land use, urban, regional, transport and environmental planning. Other related areas are also important, including economic and community planning. Spatial planning takes place on local, regional, national and inter-national levels and often result in the creation of a spatial plan.
There are numerous definitions of spatial planning. One of the earliest definitions comes from the European Regional/Spatial Planning Charter (often called the 'Torremolinos Charter'), adopted in 1983 by the European Conference of Ministers responsible for Regional Planning (CEMAT): "Regional/spatial planning gives geographical expression to the economic, social, cultural and ecological policies of society. It is at the same time a scientific discipline, an administrative technique and a policy developed as an interdisciplinary and comprehensive approach directed towards a balanced regional development and the physical organisation of space according to an overall strategy."
Numerous planning systems exist around the world. Especially in Northwestern Europe spatial planning has evolved greatly since the late 1950s.
Spatial planning systems in Europe
Various compendia of spatial planning systems can be found. Below is a table showing some of the main sources, the countries covered and the date of publication..
European spatial planning
In 1999, a document called the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP) was signed by the ministers responsible for regional planning in the EU member states. Although the ESDP has no binding status, and the European Union has no formal authority for spatial planning, the ESDP has influenced spatial planning policy in European regions and member states, and placed the coordination of EU sectoral policies on the political agenda.
At the European level, the term territorial cohesion is becoming more widely used and is for example mentioned in the draft EU Treaty (Constitution) as a shared competency of the European Union; it is also included in the Treaty of Lisbon. The term was defined in a "scoping document" in Rotterdam in late 2004 and is being elaborated further using empirical data from the ESPON programme in a document entitled "The Territorial State and Perspectives of the European Union". At the minister's conference in May 2007 in Leipzig, a political document called the "Territorial Agenda" was signed to continue the process begun in Rotterdam, revised in May 2011 in Godollo.
- Comprehensive planning
- European Spatial Development Perspective
- ISOCARP - International Society of City and Regional Planners
- Landscape architecture
- Land use planning
- Regional planning
- Principles of Intelligent Urbanism
- Unified settlement planning
- Urban planning
- "Council of Europe". Council of Europe. Retrieved 2013-10-06.
- "espon.eu". espon.eu. Retrieved 2013-06-26.
- "Microsoft Word - TSP-First-Draft-as-of-260606.doc" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-06-26.
- Andreas Faludi, Bas Waterhout, The Making of the European Spatial Development Perspective, London Routledge 2002. ISBN 978-0-415-27264-3.
- Gerhard Larsson, Spatial Planning Systems in Western Europe - An Overview, Delft Univ Press (2006), ISBN 978-1-58603-656-0.
- Gerhard Larsson, Land management as Public Policy, University Press of America (2010), ISBN 978-0-7618-5248-3. 
- UNECE, Spatial Planning - Key Instrument for Development and Effective Governance with Special Reference to Countries in Transition, Report ECE/HBP/146, Geneva UNECE 2008.
- Richard H. Williams, European union spatial policy and planning, London Chapman 1996. ISBN 978-1-85396-305-6.
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- CEMAT - European Conference of Ministers responsible for Regional Planning
- EJSD - European Journal of Spatial Development
- ESPON - European Observation Network on Territorial Development and Cohesion
- Planum - The European Journal of Planning
- VASAB - Baltic Sea Region Spatial Planning Initiative VASAB