The concept of regional/spatial planning
Regional/spatial planning gives geographical expression to the economic, social, cultural and ecological policies of society. It is at the same time a scientific discipline, an administrative technique and a policy developed as an interdisciplinary and comprehensive approach directed towards a balanced regional development and the physical organisation of space according to an overall strategy.
European dimension of spatial planning
Regional/spatial planning contributes to a better spatial organisation in Europe and in finding solutions to problems that go beyond the national framework. Its aim is to create feelings of common identity, in North- South and East-West relations.
Characteristics of spatial planning
Man and his well-being as well as his interaction with the environment are the central concern of regional/spatial planning, its aims being to provide each individual with an environment and quality of life conducive to the development of his personality in surroundings planned on a human scale.
Regional/spatial planning should be democratic, comprehensive, functional and long-term oriented:
democratic: it should be conducted in such a way as to ensure the participation of the people concerned and their political representatives;
comprehensive: it should ensure the co-ordination of various sectoral policies and integrate them in an overall approach;
functional: it needs to take into account the existence of a regional consciousness based on common values, culture and interests, sometimes crossing administrative and territorial boundaries, without overlooking the institutional arrangements of different countries;
long-term: it should analyse and take into consideration long-term trends and development. It should be oriented to address economic, social, cultural, ecological and environmental phenomena and interventions.
Regional/spatial planning must take into consideration the existence of a multitude of individual and institutional decision-makers, which influence the organisation of space, the uncertainty of all forecasting studies, the market pressures, the special features of administrative systems and the different socio-economic and environmental conditions. It must however strive to reconcile these influences in the most harmonious way possible.
The fundamental objectives are: balanced socio-economic development of
the regions; improvement of the quality of life; responsible management of natural resources and protection of the environment; and rational use of land.
Implementation of regional/spatial planning objectives
The achievement of regional/spatial planning objectives is essentially a political matter. Many private and public agencies contribute through their actions towards developing and changing the organisation of space. Regional/spatial planning reflects the desire for interdisciplinary integration and co-ordination and for co-operation between the authorities involved. It must be based on active citizen participation.