Spatial Planning

The Promised Land or Rolled-Out Neoliberalism?

Authored by: Simin Davoudi

The Routledge Handbook of Planning Theory

Print publication date:  August  2017
Online publication date:  August  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138905016
eBook ISBN: 9781315696072
Adobe ISBN:


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The new millennium marked the revival of strategic spatial planning in many parts of the world (Albrechts et al., 2003, Sartorio, 2005; Healey, 2007; Davoudi and Strange, 2009; Friedmann, 2004; Watson, 2002; Gunder, 2010). In defining what spatial planning is and promoting its virtues, commentators often contrast it with traditional land use planning, master planning, and/or project-based planning. They argue that spatial planning is a long range and strategic approach to place-based integration of sectoral policies. Some suggest that the revival of spatial planning marks a paradigm shift, while others argue that it has introduced a slippery concept. For the former the spatial planning approach is ‘the Promised Land’, while for the latter it is a ‘mirage’ (Cullingworth et al., 2015: 4). Concerns are also raised about having ‘too little or too much’ of spatial planning and ‘the dangers of spatial planning’ particularly when ‘the question of space and spatial organisation is treated separately from other considerations, or when it assumes primacy over these’ (Parr 2005: 120). The terminology itself has been subject to debate, too, and seen as an example of ‘Euro-English’, referring variously to l’amenagement du territoire, Raumordnung, pianificazione territoriale, and urban and regional planning (Salet and Faludi, 2000).

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