Why Integrated Planning?
Integrated urban planning and policy that connects across different sectors (such as housing, energy, mobility and health) is increasingly recognised as vital parts of European spatial planning and sustainable development in general (see for instance the many initiatives in the world of smart cities and communities 1)Edelenbos, J., Hirzalla, F., van Zoonen, L., van Dalen, J., Bouma, G., Slob, A., & Woestenburg, A. (2018). Governing the complexity of smart data cities: Setting a research agenda. In Smart Technologies for Smart Governments (pp. 35-54). Springer, Cham. The concept of integrated planning stems from the idea that the government landscape is “traditionally organized around functional sectors”2)Healey, P. (2006). Relational complexity and the imaginative power of strategic spatial planning. European Planning Studies, 14(4), 525-546..(such as mobility, water, nature, energy). Major societal challenges, such as climate adaptation and decarbonization require a different view on the complex relations between these sectors.
Within the RESIN project, TNO has developed the Urban Innovation Framework in order to help cities achieving solutions to these complex and challenging problems. The framework is based on years of experience within the field of urban innovation and consists of five main perspectives: cross-domain integration, the decision making context, developing the innovation ecosystem, organisational integration and closing the policy/learning cycle.
In novel approaches of city planning, complexity theory is used to describe the interdependency, interconnectedness, and non-linear dynamical behavior of problems that cities are confronted with. The complex systems approach is a promising new way to describe and explain how cities form, evolve, adapt, and evolve in response to changing conditions3)Sanders, T.I., 2008, Complex Systems Thinking and New Urbanism, in: New Urbanism and beyond : designing cities for the future, T. Haas, New York : Rizzoli. The complexity approach emphasizes the city as a whole, the relation between its composing parts, and the underlying interacting variables, structures and dynamics that together lead to emerging situations (problematic or not) in cities. It, therefore, can be used for a holistic view on city problematics, and offers a framework for integration. Planning in complexity asks for approaches that are better able to cope with self-organization, emergent behavior and surprise: a step-by-step approach instead of the ‘design of the future’ approach. New approaches like adaptive management, and co-creation fit better to this.
The ‘layers approach’4)Priemus, H. (2004). From a Layers Approach towards a Network Approach: A Dutch Contribution to Spatial Planning Methodology, Planning, Practice & Research, 19(3) pp. 267–283. is a holistic planning method that emphasizes three interconnected layers that influence one another: the layer of the subsurface, or substratum, the layer of the networks, or infrastructures, and the occupation layer, the layer where people live, work, recreate etc. It is, in fact, a system approach. The layer of the subsurface contains the interlinked soil, water, groundwater, and sediment processes and the link with the ecological system. It is the layer upon which the other layers are built. The networks layer contains the physical (infrastructures) and social networks. The networks layer fosters horizontal connectivity from neighborhood to city to other cities. The infrastructures carry the flows of data, material, mobility (people), energy, water, etc. The occupation layer is the layer where activities of people take place and contains the physical structures (houses, offices, etc.) for these activities. Each layer delivers the conditions for the functioning in the other layers. The subsurface layer contains for instance the soil conditions which influence the type of buildings, the configuration of the built environment, or influence what kind of activities can be organized in the occupation layer. The idea is that change in the layers will take place in different time scales. The subsurface layer will change on a geological time scale, with a magnitude of about 100 and more years. The physical appearances in the network and occupation layer , i.e. the infrastructures and buildings, can change a little bit faster, in a time frame of 30-50 years, while the social networks and activities in the occupational layers can change much faster (in less than a year).
Bringing both approaches together in a conceptual model that emphasizes:
- the importance of connectivity. Horizontally between districts and cities, vertically between the subsurface, infrastructures, networks and people (the social-ecological system);
- the interdependencies between different levels of scale on district, city, and national level;
- the networks and infrastructures as social and physical forms that foster the connectivity and support the flows of energy, mobility, material, data, etc. in the city. The network or infrastructures layer plays an important role for the functioning of the city system ;
- the concept of self-organization and emergence that asks for planning system that can better deal with bottom-up processes and surprises;
Different planning systems across Europe
Four major traditions of spatial planning can be identified within the EU and her Member States (CEC, 1997):
- The regional economic planning approach, where spatial planning is used as a policy tool to pursue wide social and economic objectives, especially in relation to disparities in wealth, employment and social conditions between different regions of the country. Central government inevitably plays a strong role. France is associated with this approach.
- The comprehensive integrated approach, where spatial planning is conducted through a systematic and formal hierarchy of plans. These are organised in a system of framework control, where plans at lower levels must not contradict planning decisions at higher levels. Denmark and The Netherlands are associated with this approach. In the Nordic countries local authorities play a dominant role, while in federal systems such as Germany, the regional government also plays a very important role.
- The land use regulation approach, where planning is a more technical discipline in relation to the control of change of use of land. The United Kingdom tradition of ‘town and country planning’ is the main example of this tradition, where regulation is aiming to ensure sustainable development and growth.
- The urbanism approach, where the key focus is on the architectural perspective and concern with urban design, townscape and building control. This tradition is significant in the Mediterranean countries and is exercised through rather rigid zoning and codes and through a wide range of laws and regulations.
- Over time the planning systems in the states borrow and mix elements from the other styles of spatial planning and thus are dynamic.
Why is integrated planning a key challenge?
Strategic and integrated planning is about managing interdependencies between domains, networks and actors! It is a key challenge because it cahllenges traditional ways of thinking and working wihtin a city. However, it is a crucial step towards succesful climate adaptation. As the city is a complex system, the solutions to a climate adaptive cities stem from various (connected) domains. To not strategically align will result in ineffective and costly climate adaptive solutions.
How to integrate planning
The RESIN consortium developed The Integrated Planning Challenge methodology, which builds on work that has been done by Meijers and Stead 5)Meijers, E. & Stead, D. (2009). Spatial Planning and Policy Integration: Concepts, Facilitators and Inhibitors. Planning Theory and Practice, 10(3), pp. 317-332..These authors distinguish between three ‘levels’ of policy integration; cooperation, coordination and integrated policy making.
These levels are dependent on a variety of variables (interaction, interdependence, formality, resources needed, loss of autonomy, comprehensiveness, accessibility and compatibility). The variables determine the relation between the stakeholders. This relationship can best be described along the following rule of thumb: the higher the degree of the interdependent variables the higher the level of policy integration. High levels of policy integration demand more interaction, interdependence, formality, shared resources, loss of autonomy, et cetera between sectors. Consequently, the higher the level of policy integration the more policies are cross-cutting sectors. It is important to note that there is no ideal state of integrated policies. Every context requires a different degree or level of integration. Finding the ideal level of policy integration in relation to the context is quite a challenging process.
This process can be approached by working towards three critical goals. Starting off, it is useful for each sector to create a shared understanding of each other’s values. Secondly, there is a need to create a shared problem and awareness of the context. Lastly, specific actions should be drawn out in order to achieve a desired level of policy integration. These goals can best be achieved in an open and transparent process. The table below provides different thematic levels of integration.
|Level of integrated planning||Examples||Elaboration|
|alignment or integration of domain planning||Towards one planning document and planning system for different domains|
|flexible, strategic, adaptive plans, opening possibilities||Open and flexible spatial planning tools that stimulate seeking for cross-overs and capturing added value of cooperation|
|methodological criteria to balance domains||Formally decide on prioritization between different domains within in districts.|
|alignment of subsidies, budgets and incentives||Alignment of financial flows within districts|
|alignment of accountancy requirements||Alignment of performance measures of different domains|
|coordination, cooperation and integration of departments||Should different teams or departments within the city closer cooperate or merge?|
|alignment of responsibilities at decision making level||Should somebody be responsible for seeking cross-overs between domains?|
|Integrated database and collaborative knowledge development||Make sure that available data and quality from different urban planning domains is comparable.|
|Operational project level
|integrated project organization
|Involve cross-domain expertise in an intensive working project team|
|integrated tendering to private parties
|Include ‘integrated goals’ in tender specifications|
|stakeholder integration||Involve external stakeholders from different domains|
Most encountered in
The process of integrated planning runs in an integrated way parallel to the entire RESIN process, defined in the RESIN framework. Thinking about how an integrated approach can help to tackle the urban challenges in particular relates to the phases of
The lessons learned from the Integrated Planning Challenge are that such objectives should be broadly defined, taking into account the solutions (options) other sectors can potentially provide. Consequently, integrated projects can be further defined in the implementation plan. However, if cities start to think on cross-sector synergies in the implementation planning phase, chances may be missed.
Footnotes [ + ]
|1.||↑||Edelenbos, J., Hirzalla, F., van Zoonen, L., van Dalen, J., Bouma, G., Slob, A., & Woestenburg, A. (2018). Governing the complexity of smart data cities: Setting a research agenda. In Smart Technologies for Smart Governments (pp. 35-54). Springer, Cham|
|2.||↑||Healey, P. (2006). Relational complexity and the imaginative power of strategic spatial planning. European Planning Studies, 14(4), 525-546.|
|3.||↑||Sanders, T.I., 2008, Complex Systems Thinking and New Urbanism, in: New Urbanism and beyond : designing cities for the future, T. Haas, New York : Rizzoli|
|4.||↑||Priemus, H. (2004). From a Layers Approach towards a Network Approach: A Dutch Contribution to Spatial Planning Methodology, Planning, Practice & Research, 19(3) pp. 267–283.|
|5.||↑||Meijers, E. & Stead, D. (2009). Spatial Planning and Policy Integration: Concepts, Facilitators and Inhibitors. Planning Theory and Practice, 10(3), pp. 317-332.|