Dr. Kristian Olesen
PhD project: Strategic spatial planning in transition - understanding the new forms of strategic spatial planning in theory and practice
Period: 01-08-2008 – 31-08-2011
Supervisors: Tim Richardson and Petter Næss
Abstract: This PhD thesis explores contemporary transformations of strategic spatial planning in Denmark in a context of changing governance structures and rescaling of planning powers. The Danish structural reform in 2007 led to a number of changes in the planning system, hereunder abolition of the counties, mergence of municipalities, creation of new administrative regions, and transfer of planning powers to municipal and national scales. In this context new experiments of strategic spatial planning were initiated at subnational scales with the state and municipalities as key players. In the Greater Copenhagen Area, the Ministry of the Environment prepared a legally binding national planning directive as the overall spatial framework for urban development in the city region. In Eastern Jutland and Region Zealand, the Ministry of the Environment initiated informal, voluntary, dialogue-based strategy-making processes with the aim of preparing similar spatial frameworks.
The research is carried out as in-depth case studies of these three spatial planning episodes. The research builds on document analysis of spatial strategies, background reports, notes from meetings, press releases etc. together with semi-structured interviews with national, regional and municipal planners involved in these three processes or involved in national spatial strategy-making.
The main aim of the research is to develop an understanding of the nature of contemporary changes in Danish strategic spatial planning in practice, and explore how these changes correspond with contemporary theorizations of strategic spatial planning in the planning literature. In particular the research focuses on how the core idea of planning is being transformed, how relationships being actors are changing, and how space is being re-imagined. Through these questions the research explores whether contemporary transformations of Danish strategic spatial planning follow general trends seen elsewhere in Europe, or whether we seen something particular about contemporary transformations of Danish strategic spatial planning.
In this way the research aims to contribute to both planning theory and planning practice, by engaging in critical discussions on contemporary transformations of strategic spatial planning and its future role.