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CALL FOR PAPERS: Current challenges for local spatial planning in EU country systems

Guest Editor: Maciej J. Nowak – West Pomeranian University of Technology in Szczecin

According to numerous authors, the local level is crucial from the perspective of the spatial planning system. Critical spatial planning decisions are often made at this level, and the most important (and also the most problematic) spatial planning instruments, particularly spatial plans, are applied. Public authorities at the local level, responsible for implementing and applying the indicated instruments, must consider the risk of numerous problems. Of particular importance is the possibility of severe spatial conflicts. A separate challenge is determining the optimal way of including diverse sectoral issues in spatial planning instruments, particularly regarding climate change adaptation objectives.

The discussion on the challenges and problems of spatial planning at the local level is hampered by the mutual severe diversity of national systems. Legal regulations and cultural and social conditions (which determine the direction of planning practices) are different. Also, the geographical location, the size of the country, its administrative structure and even the level of socioeconomic development can significantly change the specifics of the discussion of spatial planning in a given country. These differences also exist (although to a lesser extent than in the overall international perspective) in countries on the same continents. European countries are an example of this. Already in classifications carried out more than 20 years ago, certain 'families' of these countries were distinguished from the perspective of legal approach or planning tradition. Given the severe dynamics of systemic change in most countries, these classifications should be cautiously approached. However, there is no doubt that membership in the European Union provides a basis for comparing and contrasting the solutions of individual countries. European Union bodies do not directly influence the shape of local spatial planning solutions. This influence is usually described as indirect, possibly more strongly linked to more sectoral (from the point of view of spatial planning) issues. However, irrespective of the above, there are similar spatial problems in different groups of EU countries, forcing a similar response at the local spatial planning level. In addition, the demands contained in some European Union documents (e.g. Territorial Agenda 2030) are also addressed to public authorities at the local level, responsible for spatial planning. The role of actions related to the European Union's cohesion policy must also be highlighted here.

The special issue of the journal 'Europa XXI' will be to isolate the key current issues and barriers concerning the functioning of local spatial planning levels in the European Union countries. The formulation of the objective and proposal of this issue is a continuation of the themes undertaken within the ESPON COMPASS project and the issue 35/2018 of 'Europa XXI' prepared on its basis. Accordingly, the editors invite the submission of valuable publications on the following topics in particular:

- identifying the specific characteristics of spatial planning instruments at the local level in the countries (or a selected country) of the European Union. Identify key barriers and constraints to the use of these instruments;

- identify how local-level spatial planning systems of European Union countries take into account the climate change adaptation objectives;

- identify how European Union countries' local level spatial planning systems take into account environmental objectives, in particular, link to the environmental impact assessment procedure;

- to assess how spatial planning instruments of European Union countries restrain uncontrolled urbanisation processes and how they resolve spatial conflicts;

- verification of the relationship of local public authorities in charge of spatial planning with higher level public authorities (regional, national), defining existing barriers;

- analysis of solutions promoting public participation in spatial planning in European Union countries at the local level;

- define the critical directions of changes in the local spatial planning systems of the European Union in recent years and the degree of their relation to the guidelines defined in the literature and at the level of the EU documents;

- identify the relationship between strategic spatial planning and regulatory spatial planning in European Union countries;

- specificities of spatial planning in border and cross-border areas (including cross-border functional areas and areas at the external borders of the European Union).

The articles can be either a case study of a specific European Union country or a comparison of selected solutions in more than one country. In the first option, however, it is advisable to relate both the theory and the presented results to a broader international context. In the second option, it is suggested to present an in-depth concept justifying the possibility of comparing the countries referred to in the article.

If you are interested to submit a manuscript, please contact us at:


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