A participatory approach to Societal Cost Benefit Analysis (SCBA) as a way to start the debate on transforming residential subdivisions

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
Residential subdivisions remain the preferred living environment for the majority of the people living in Flanders. But, this mode of living comes at a high societal cost. These costs are paid by society as a whole, whereas the advantages are only experienced by the residents (De Decker, 2011). In Flanders, there is an ongoing debate on how to reduce these costs since the sixties (Anselin, 1967; Braem, 1967; Strauven, 1980). In spite of this debate, the subdivision of open land continues at a rate of 6 ha each day (De Decker et al., 2010). Our hypothesis is that a societal cost-benefit analysis (SCBA) could benefit a more informed debate. A SCBA analyses the costs and benefits of (spatial) scenarios (ECORYS, 2008, p. 15) and relies on heuristics to translate these costs and benefits, in a transparent way, to a number of (monetary) values. As such a SCBA allows to include perspectives from multiple sectors (e.g. planning, ecology, heritage, mobility) and supports a strategic debate among policy makers. The conducting of a comprehensive SCBA is a complex process. We particularly propose to use SCBA as a dynamic and participatory instrument, that evolves along with the debate. As such, it would no longer only be a decision-support tool for policy makers, but also a capacity building tool that helps participants to reflect over the impact of their current (spatial) behavior and over how to reduce the societal cost of this behavior. In the paper, we will discuss how the participatory SCBA supports the definition of values, the composition of the value framework and the construction of the publics. Keywords: participatory societal cost benefit analysis; dynamic instrument; value framework; constructing publics
Planning for Transition – book of proceedings 31; 2