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European spatial planning policy

Atkinson, Rob; Zimmermann, Karsten


Karsten Zimmermann


Hubert Heinelt

Sybille Munch


In this chapter we argue that there has been a growing interest in spatial planning policies supported by the European Commission and a limited number of member states across Europe for several decades and that its roots lie in the planning systems and practices of a number of North-Western European countries, most notably France, Germany and the Netherlands. It may be seen to derive its meaning from a ‘mix’ of planning approaches variously captured by the German notion Raumplanung, the Dutch term Ruimtelijk Planning and the French concept of aménagement du territoire. In terms of its ‘origins’ European Spatial Planning draws on and reflects the different planning traditions and cultures in these countries but this also means it is something of a ‘contested notion’ in terms of its implications, practice and geographical origins. In recent years the notion of European spatial planning has found less overt recognition and support in the sense that it has been incorporated into the territorial development approach. With the Territorial Agenda coming into effect 2007 (EU Ministers for Spatial Planning and Development 2007) the notions of territorial cohesion and territorial coherence more or less absorbed what was previously included under the rubric of European spatial planning, thus simultaneously appearing to downgrade both the idea and political significance of strategic spatial planning at transnational and national levels whilst giving it greater legitimacy as an approach and methodology associated with the Territorial Agenda (EU Ministers Responsible for Spatial Planning and Territorial Development 2011).


Atkinson, R., & Zimmermann, K. (2018). European spatial planning policy. In H. Heinelt, & S. Munch (Eds.), Handbook on EU PoliciesEdward Elgar

Acceptance Date Jan 1, 2018
Publication Date Jan 1, 2018
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Book Title Handbook on EU Policies
Keywords European spatial planning, territorial development, territorial cohesion, European Union
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Additional Information Additional Information : This is a draft chapter that has been accepted for publication by Edward Elgar Publishing in the forthcoming book Handbook on EU Policies edited by Hubert Heinelt and Sybille Munch, due to be published in 2018.


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