The Treatment of Space and Place in the New Strategic Spatial Planning in Europe


This article examines recent European experiences in urban and regional spatial strategies. It focuses specifically on the concepts of space and place deployed within these strategies and the institutional work these concepts are called upon to do. It explores how far such concepts reflect the shift in geographical thought to a dynamic, dis‐contiguous, relational conceptualization of spatiality. These issues are explored through an analysis of three recent strategic planning episodes: The Netherlands Fifth National Policy Document on Spatial Planning, the Regional Development Strategy for Northern Ireland, and the Framework Document for Milan. All are innovative in their contexts in one way or another and provide exemplars of new ways of thinking about space and place, and the role of spatial strategies in contemporary governance contexts. All the episodes reflect in some way new relational geographical ideas, but many traditional planning ideas live on. The analysis highlights the political dimensions of developing new spatial vocabularies to guide urban and regional development and the significance of the institutional context in shaping and accepting new spatial planning concepts.