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Debate articles

Debate articles in European Journal of Spatial Development are contributions that develop, nuance or initiate an important research or policy debate within the subject area of the journal. Before publication they also undergo rigorous editorial review and revision before publication. These articles usually count 3.000 words.

EU territory and policy-making: from words to deeds to promote policy integration

Philippe Doucet, Kai Böhme & Jacek Zaucha


In this paper Philippe Doucet, Kai Böhme, and Jacek Zaucha, address recent developments in the area of EU territorial cohesion. A first section is dedicated to the emergence of the place-based approach as a new paradigm of the EU cohesion policy, and the subsequent need for vertical, horizontal and territorial integration of policies. In a second step, progress recently made in the framework of the EU Territorial Agenda revision process towards a better understanding of, and recognition of the need for, territorial cohesion and policy integration is commented upon. Finally, a case is made for tangible steps to be taken to reform formal EU policy making, to strengthen the territorial dimension of both the overall policy approach and relevant sectoral policies.

24pp (Debate, January 2014)

Doucet, P., Böhme, K. & Zaucha, J. (2014). EU territory and policy-making: from words to deeds to promote policy integrationDebate article, European Journal of Spatial Development.


Europe should cherish its major urban nodes

Arjen van der Burg 


In this article Arjen van der Burg argues that by choosing the spatial concept of 'polycentricity' the European Territorial Agenda (TA) has opted for an outdated one. An alternative approach would have been to place emphasis on the major European urban nodes that function within worldwide networks and to leave the planning of the urban regions entirely up to the member states of the European Union (EU).

8pp (Debate, August 2011)

Van der Burg, A. (2011). Europe should cherish its major urban nodesDebate, European Journal of Spatial Development.


Is the ‘Creative Class’ Necessarily Urban? Putting the Creativity Thesis in the Context of Non-urbanised Regions in Industrialised Nations

Cali Nuur & Staffan Laestadius


In this article Cali Nuur and Staffan Laestadius raise the notion of creativity in the context of non-urbanised regions in industrialised nations. They argue that in a world where urbanization is proceeding faster than ever where traffic congestion is growing, where environmental problems like smog and water pollution are significant in many of our dynamic regions and where housing prices are rocketing, opportunities may emerge for creative combinations of talented people and non- or less- urbanized regions to develop their competitiveness. What we assert is that there is variety of lifestyle-related activities outside large urbanised centres which may attract talented people who want to combine their professional and private lifestyles – and this creates opportunities.

13pp (Debate, June 2009)

Nuur, C. & Laestadius, S. (2009). Is the ‘Creative Class’ Necessarily Urban? Putting the Creativity Thesis in the Context of Non-urbanised Regions in Industrialised NationsDebate, European Journal of Spatial Development


The Politics of Gating

Zoltan Csefalvay, Rowland Atkinson, Bill Smith Bowers & Tony Manzi


Gated residential developments, neighbourhoods to which public access is restricted, continue to generate academic, policymaker and public curiosity. In a recent paper in the EJSD Tony Manzi and Bill Smith-Bowers (2006) attempt to provide what they see as a more subtle approach to these developments, arguing, that hostility to gated communities is misplaced on several grounds. In a debate article Rowland Atkinson argue, in response, that there are several problems with the positions they adopt, and that these should be considered if we are to effectively discuss how planning practice and housing systems should work with or against these new trends in the built environment.

In this new debate article Zoltan Csefalvay argues that the examination of gated communities requires freedom from the inherent bias of the recently popular politics-driven approach. He suggests that to understand gated communities we need to understand the market-driven process approach as such we should concentrate on the rational and fconomically rooted motivations of homeowners, developers, and local governments. In other words he argues that the notion of gated communities should be demystified.


Csefalvay, Z. (2009). The demystification of gatingDebate, European Journal of Spatial Development

Atkinson, R. (2008). The politics of gating (A response to Private Security and Public Space by Manzi and Smith-Bowers)Debate, European Journal of Spatial Development

Bowers, B.S. & Manzi, T. (2006). Private Security and Public Space: New Approaches to the Theory and Practice of Gated CommunitiesEuropean Journal of Spatial Development, 22

The emerging Norwegian municipal structure

Jørgen Amdam


Calls have been made for fewer regions in Norway. Norway is currently divided into 19 counties and 434 municipalities. The political and administrative structures at the local and regional levels are currently the subject of some debate. In this debate article by Prof. Jørgen Amdam, Institute of planning and administration, Volda University College, Norway, the challenges posed in respect of emerging changes in Norway’s municipal and county structures are examined. Focus is placed on possible alternatives and their potential consequences, each illustrated by means of reference to specific cases of municipalities in Møre and Romsdal County. It is suggested that so-called communicative planning processes are needed to be implemented for a change ‘from below’ to be successful.

25pp (Debate, August 2007)

Amdam, J. (2007). The emerging Norwegian municipal structureDebate, European Journal of Spatial Development


European spatial planning

Christer Bengs & Maria Prezioso


Much of the European work undertaken on spatial planning has been carried out in the context of intergovernmental co-operation, which is not always promoted by the Commission. The process and results of the ESPON programme can be understood in the context of globalisation and the conflicting scenarios for European integration. The most important question related to future co-operation on European spatial planning, concerns the scientific quality of the results however, not their alleged policy implications.


Bengs, C. (2006). ESPON in contextDebate, European Journal of Spatial Development

Prezioso, M. (2007). Why the ESPON Programme is concerned more with ‘policy implications’ than with ‘good science’Debate, European Journal of Spatial Development

Is there no future for planning in our cities?

Shipra Narang & Lars Reutersward


The recent focus on improved governance in cities has raised some concerns about the role of urban planning. Questions have been raised on whether good governance is a substitute for planning, and if it is adequate in itself to achieve sustainable development. Is there no future, then, for planning in our cities?

11pp (Debate, April 2006)

Narang, S. & Reutersward, L. (2006). Improved governance and sustainable urban development Strategic planning holds the keyDebate, European Journal of Spatial Development

What is the role/meaning of planning theory today?

Christer Bengs & Tore Sager


The planning context across Europe is changing for a number of reasons. Firstly, given the increased level of competition associated with the liberalisation of markets and globalisation more generally, the continuing need for ever more productive investments are accentuated. In this context, environmental standards are often among the first casualties. Secondly, globalisation underpins the need for high-quality environments and attractive localities for consumption. Thirdly, globalisation causes the restructuring of existing urban systems, which can have a dramatic impact on individual localities.

Planning theory as pursued by the profession has therefore to submit or adjust to whatever trends are currently prevailing, or must stand up for matters that are considered essential, or is often obliged to do both.The question therefore arises, in what direction are we going, and what is the role/meaning of planning theory today?


Bengs, C. (2005). Planning Theory for the naive? Debate, European Journal of Spatial Development

Sager, T. (2005). Communicative Planners as Naïve Mandarins of the Neo-liberal State? Debate, European Journal of Spatial Development

The ‘Third Report on Economic and Social Cohesion

was published by the European Commission on the 18th of February 2004.

Christer Bengs, Andreas Faludi, Heikki Eskelinen & Ilari Karppi


The report is likely to have a central role in shaping policy discussions on cohesion and regional development related issues for the foreseeable future, not least because it provides a blueprint for European cohesion policy after EU-enlargement in May 2004 and for the next Structural Funds programming period beyond 2006. It is also highly relevant to academic research in this area, e.g. through the work undertaken within the ESPON research framework

To highlight this important event we will have a number of experts on regional policy and cohesion commenting on the report, its findings and its academic relevance.


Bengs, C. (2004). Introduction to a discussion on the third cohesion report: Policy-relevant research and research-relevant policyDebate, European Journal of Spatial Development

Faludi, A. (2004). The Third Cohesion Report and the European Spatial Development PerspectiveDebate, European Journal of Spatial Development

Eskelinen, H. (2004). Third report on economic and social cohesionDebate, European Journal of Spatial Development

Karppi, I. (2004). The Social Aspects of Enlargement: Reflections on the 2004 Cohesion ReportDebate, European Journal of Spatial Development