Spatial governance and planning systems and the capacity for public control of spatial development: a European typology

Although the functions of spatial governance and planning systems are generalizable, 30 years of comparative studies, especially in Europe, have shown the heterogeneity characterising these “institutional technologies”. Particularly, they differ in the capacity for public control of spatial development, a crucial aspect for the life of entire cities, regions and countries. The proposed contribution builds on the materials of the recently concluded ESPON COMPASS research project to propose a European typology on this issue. Based on the opinions expressed by respective national experts, the systems of 39 countries (28 EU and 11 non-EU) are compared in relation to the mechanisms to allocate land use and spatial development rights as well as to the prevalence of public vs. private interests in guiding the development decisions. As a result, the European systems are placed on an X-Y diagram, which makes it possible to cluster them in consistent types that raise new comparative observations and general findings. In summary, the capacity for public control of spatial development looks variegated in Europe, and is conditioned by a mixture of factors. In this scenario, the different models adopted for allocating spatial development rights need to be understood in the context of actual state-market relations.
spatial governance, spatial planning, spatial development, systems