This paper argues that a planning system that allows its policies and practices to gradually lose spatial reflection and spatial coordination capacities within and across different levels of planning administration is less likely to make national and regional plans matter or to have a say in future spatial development processes. The reasoning behind this argument stems from the case of Denmark, where a structural reform that changed the country’s geographies of inter-governmental arrangements significantly transformed the configuration and functioning of the national spatial planning system. Once designed to pursue ‘equal development’ as a result of a structural reform of a different nature implemented during the 1970s, Danish planning as a whole and national and regional planning policies, in particular, currently seem to have become less ‘spatial’ in the sense that the latter only tend to exhibit limited strategic reasoning and geographical thinking in addressing the potential physical structure of and functional relationships within the national territory. At the same time, the planning system seems to display narrower measures of spatial coherence in terms of horizontal and vertical coordination and integration of sectors and policies within and across different levels. Based on an analysis regarding the evolution of planning policies and an examination of the current governance landscape that influences planning practice at national and regional levels, the paper attempts to generate an understanding concerning how the scope of Danish spatial planning has been reoriented over time in light of three interrelated strands of understanding.
International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences, 2013, Vol 57, p. 34-41