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Research briefings

Research briefings in European Journal of Spatial Development are concise summaries of research findings or projects of about 5.000 to 6.000 words  targeting an informed audience although not necessarily an exclusively academic audience. They are subject to rigorous editorial review and revision prior to a decision about publication.

The Openness Buzz in Metropolitan Regions: Swedish Regional Development Strategies (#6)

Anna Lundgren


In the networked information and knowledge society, we see a frequent use of the notions of “open” and “openness”; open source, open region, open economy, open government, open innovation. In parallel we can also observe changes of practises relating to how we produce and exchange products, information, knowledge and culture, enabled by the knowledge society, information technology and the Internet. This is the point of departure when this article examines how openness is interpreted and discussed in the three metropolitan regions of Stockholm, Göteborg and Malmö in Sweden. Accessibility as a quality of openness is found to play a particularly important role. From an institutional perspective openness is mainly discussed in relation to governance and policy, although openness may also be related to norms and culture.

16pp (Articles, December 2016, no 6)

Lundgren, A. (2016). The Openness Buzz in Metropolitan Regions: Swedish Regional Development StrategiesEuropean Journal of Spatial Development, Research Briefing, 6


Evergreen issues of planning? Learning from history for sustainable urban-rural systems landscapes (#5)

Madeleine Granvik & Per Hedfors


Contemporary planning for sustainable development has a main focus on sustainable urban areas. This paper highlights a systemic approach as well as integrated and contextual knowledge in spatial planning. Significant theorists within urban planning, landscape architecture and other related fields are faced with a search for knowledge that accommodates the development of sustainable societies. Our historical selected data (Sitte, Howard, Geddes, Migge, Mumford, and McHarg) was analysed in relation to the contemporary UN policy document The Habitat Agenda and the French architectural theorist Francoise Choay’s theory on urban design and critical planning. We identify several issues that could be considered as fundamental and discuss their potential role in current spatial planning in a Scandinavian context. The results are discussed in relation to theory and current planning trends. The main contribution of the study is a tentative theoretical framework that supports urban-rural interaction in spatial planning, titled The Sustainability Approach. This framework is also suggested as a natural evolution of Choay’s planning models.

22pp (Articles, December 2015, no 5)

Granvik, M. & Hedfors, P. (2015). Evergreen Issues of planning? Learning from history for sustainable urban-rural systems landscapesEuropean Journal of Spatial Development, Research Briefing No. 5


Strategies for Sustainable Urban Development and Urban-Rural Linkages (#4)

Kjell Nilsson et al.


An important driving force behind urban expansion is the growth of the urban population. But for Europe, this is not a sufficient explanation. The major trend is that European cities have become much less compact. Since the mid-1950s European cities have expanded on average by 78%, whereas the population has grown by only 33%. In the PLUREL project - an integrated project within the EU’s 6th Research Framework Programme - more than 100 researchers from 15 countries analysed the impacts of urban land consumption at a pan-European level and, through six European and one Chinese case studies, identified how land use conflicts and the pressure towards peri-urban areas can be strategically managed in different development and regulatory contexts. To summarise, the following strategies were identified as important steps towards more sustainable urban-rural futures: (i) better coordination of transport, land use and open space planning; (ii) urban containment and densification – development of a green compact city; (iii) preservation of blue and green infrastructure; and (iv) preservation of agricultural land and the promotion of local production. The need also remains to strengthen governance at the regional level while at the pan-European level there is clearly a need for more policy attention to be given to urban-rural linkages.

26pp (Articles, March 2014, no 4)

Nilsson, K. et al. (2014). Strategies for Sustainable Urban Development and Urban-Rural LinkagesEuropean Journal of Spatial Development, Research Briefing No. 4

Online survey as a tool in participatory urban governance - The Polish experience (#3)

Lukasz Damurski


Sustainable urban governance needs to be participatory. Municipal decision-making processes have to be responsive, transparent and inclusive, they should also actively promote citizen involvement. While the concept of participatory urban governance is increasingly popular in Western societies, in East-Central Europe it struggles to overcome the complex effects of system transformation. The Polish experience of participatory urban governance is still quite shallow with few examples of good practice in this field discernible. To stimulate cooperation between local authorities and citizens we need to develop new tools of social participation in decision-making. In this paper, I present the results of public consultations held in Wroclaw and Zielona Gora in 2007 by means of online surveys. The findings of the studies were used to define the principles of the future development of the respective cities highlighting the growing possibilities for the use of using online surveys as effective mechanisms in co-operation and co-governance.

14pp (Articles, February 2011, no 3)

Damurski, Ł. (2011). Online survey as a tool in participatory urban governance - The Polish experienceEuropean Journal of Spatial Development, Research Briefing No. 3


Marigold beds and villa horses: Low-density housing in Norway (#2)

Kjell Harvold & Eva Falleth


A number of rural municipalities in Norway suffer from population decline. In an effort to attract new residents, local authorities would like to offer large, attractive and secluded building sites. Moreover, such developments are occurring at the same time as Norway is attempting to reformulate its agricultural policy. The new multifunctional agriculture policy (‘Landbruk pluss’) denotes the Norwegian Government’s new thinking. It seeks to promote new business, jobs and attractive housing schemes – in addition to reducing regulatory complexity. However, local councils may potentially run into problems putting this new policy into practice because the low -density housing model that they espouse in many ways contradicts traditional planning policy, which has tended to favour high density housing. Does this mean that low-density housing could become a ‘planning problem’? This is the question discussed in this article. The article also focuses on the question of population change in Norway over the last decade: What kind of population distribution pattern can we detect – and thus, can a new housing policy have any influence on the population distribution pattern?

10pp (Articles, November 2005, no 2)

Harvold, K. & Falleth, E. (2005). Marigold beds and villa horses: Low-density housing in Norway, European Journal of Spatial Development, Research Briefing No. 2

Towards a new European Coastal Mineral Aggregates Planning Regime (#1)

Bert van der Moolen and Ian Wilson



9pp (Articles, November 2003, no 1)

Van der Moolen, B. & Wilson, I. (2003). Towards a new European Coastal Mineral Aggregates Planning RegimeEuropean Journal of Spatial Development, Research Briefing No. 1