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Spatial planning

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The graphical scheme of the Detailed Urbanist Plan for a settlement within the Municipality of Aerodrom in the City of Skopje, North Macedonia.

Spatial planning mediates between the respective claims on space of the state, market, and community. In so doing, three different mechanisms of involving stakeholders, integrating sectoral policies and promoting development projects mark the three schools of transformative strategy formulation, innovation action and performance in spatial planning [1]

Spatial planning systems refer to the methods and approaches used by the public and private sector to influence the distribution of people and activities in spaces of various scales. Spatial planning can be defined as the coordination of practices and policies affecting spatial organization. Spatial planning is synonymous with the practices of urban planning in the United States but at larger scales and the term is often used in reference to planning efforts in European countries. Discrete professional disciplines which involve spatial planning include land use, urban, regional, transport and environmental planning.[2] Other related areas are also important, including economic and community planning, as well as maritime spatial planning. Spatial planning takes place on local, regional, national and inter-national levels and often results in the creation of a spatial plan.

An early definition of spatial planning comes from the European Regional/Spatial Planning Charter[3] (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. The form of planning largely diverges and co-evolves with societies and their governance systems.[4] Every country, and states within those countries, have a unique planning systems that is made up by different actors, different planning perspectives and a particular institutional framework. Perspectives, actors and institutions change over time, influencing both the form and the impact of spatial planning.[5][6] Especially in Northwestern Europe spatial planning has evolved greatly since the late 1950s. Until the 1990s, the term ‘spatial’ was used primarily to refer to the way that planning should deal with more than simply zoning, land use planning, or the design of the physical form of cities or regions, but also should address the more complex issues of the spatial relationship of activities such as employment, homes and leisure uses.[7]

Spatial planning systems in Europe[edit]

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.

  Key to columns (left to right)
  COMMIN COMmon MINdscapes
  COST C11 COST Action on Green Structures and Urban Planning
  ESPON European Observation Network for Territorial Development and Cohesion COMPASS project  
  DG-REGIO European Directorate-General for Regional Policy
  CEMAT European Conference of Ministers responsible for Regional/Spatial Planning  
  ESTIA European Space and Territorial Integration Alternative
  ISOCARP International Society of City and Regional Planners
  MLIT Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
  LEXALP Legal Systems for Spatial Planning
  RCEP Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution
  UNECE United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
  VASAB Vision and Strategies around the Baltic Sea
Albania 2000
Armenia 2006 2000
Austria 2007 1997 2008 2008
Belarus 2007 2000
Belgium 2007 1997 2008
Bulgaria 2007 2003 2000 2008
Cyprus 2007
Czech Republic 2007 2008
Denmark 2007 2005 2007 1997 2008 2019
Estonia 2007 2007 2008 2018
Finland 2007 2005 2007 1997 2005 2008 2018
France 2005 2007 1997 2008 2007 2008 2000
Georgia 2003
Germany 2007 2005 2007 1997 2008 2007 2008 2000 2019
Greece 2007 1997 2000 2008
Hungary 2007 2000 2008
Rep. Ireland 2007 1997 2008 2000
Italy 2005 2007 1997 2008 2008
Latvia 2007 2007 1998 2018
Lithuania 2007 2007 1998 2018
Luxembourg 2007 1997 2006 2008
Malta 2007
Netherlands 2005 2007 1997 2008 2007 2000
North Macedonia 2000 2002
Norway 2007 2005 2007 2008 2000
Poland 2007 2005 2007 2008 2018
Portugal 2007 1997 2004 2008
Romania 2007 2000 2001
Russian Federation  2007 2008 2020
Serbia 2000 2008 2007
Slovakia 2007 2008
Slovenia 2007 2003 2008 1997
Spain 2005 2007 1997 2008
Sweden 2007 2005 2007 1997 2008 2000 2018
Switzerland 2007 2008 2008
Turkey 2008
United Kingdom 2005 2007 1997 2008 2007 2000

European spatial planning[edit]

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[8] in a document entitled "The Territorial State and Perspectives of the European Union".[9] 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 Gödöllő.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ziafati Bafarasat, A., 2015. Reflections on the three schools of thought on strategic spatial planning. Journal of Planning Literature, 30(2), pp.132-148.
  2. ^ Van Assche, K., Beunen, R., Duineveld, M., & de Jong, H. (2013). Co-evolutions of planning and design: Risks and benefits of design perspectives in planning systems. Planning Theory, 12(2), 177-198.
  3. ^ "Council of Europe". Council of Europe. Retrieved 2013-10-06.
  4. ^ Allmendinger, P. (2009). Planning theory. Palgrave Macmillan.
  5. ^ Van Assche, K., & Verschraegen, G. (2008). The limits of planning: Niklas Luhmann's systems theory and the analysis of planning and planning ambitions. Planning theory, 7(3), 263-283.
  6. ^ Gunder, M., & Hillier, J. (2009). Planning in ten words or less: A Lacanian entanglement with spatial planning. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
  7. ^ Caves, R. W. (2004). Encyclopedia of the City. Routledge. pp. 624. ISBN 9780415252256.
  8. ^ "espon.eu". espon.eu. Retrieved 2013-06-26.
  9. ^ "Microsoft Word - TSP-First-Draft-as-of-260606.doc" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-06-26.

External links[edit]

  • 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 - Vision and Strategies around the Baltic Sea - Baltic Sea Region intergovernmental cooperation in spatial planning and development