Type de publication:

Conference Paper


53ème congrès de la European Regional Science Association, Palerme, Italy (2013)

Numéro d'appel:





Issues in social and economic cohesion and regional sustainable development have steadily gained importance in European policies since the 1980s. Their main principles, promoted by the Structural Funds, the European Spatial Development Perspective and the Lisbon-Gothenburg agenda, have been diffused to national and regional planning systems especially regarding two dimensions of regional and urban development: residential segregation and urban sprawl. However, national planning frameworks and regional planning have adopted these principles in different ways, thereby altering approaches to planning and its regional and local practice. This contribution aims at showing how EU principles are translated to Western European city region level and how this integration leads to dynamic institutional changes in the planning practice. It focuses in particular on planning of residential development and multi-level governance processes. Methodologically, the study is based on an analysis of planning documents on the one hand and qualitative field-work on the other hand. Based on a study of different spatial planning systems across the Alps as a European trans-border area, the paper investigates first and foremost how principles and approaches of spatial planning converge across countries and between city regions, and to which extent they diverge. For that, the paper examines two specific national planning frameworks and medium-sized urban region examples in more detail - the Grenoble urban region (600 000 inhabitants) in France and the trans-border region of Geneva (910 000 inhabitants) in Switzerland. Both cities, situated in a highly dynamic region of the Western Alps, are characterized by significant urban growth and sprawl dynamics. In order to react to ongoing functional urban expansion they have upscaled and enlarged their planning territories, incorporating urban, peri-urban and rural areas. Strategic spatial development projects were born which are based on multi-level governance processes and territorial cooperation, including various public and private actors at diverse scales. The comparison between these two cases highlights differences in the implementation of governance, in decisions-making processes as well as in impacts on spatial development. It is shown that issues in residential development, specifically residential segregation and land consumption, are today integrated in wider urban development strategies and that their implementation, and thus spatial planning impacts, rely on the effectiveness of the multi-level city region governance.


Humanities and Social Sciences/Architecture, space managementHumanities and Social Sciences/GeographyConference papers