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Governing densification - The impact of performance-based planning on qualitative urban densification (GoverDENSE)

English title Governing densification - The impact of performance-based planning on qualitative urban densification (GoverDENSE)
Applicant Gerber Jean-David
Number 188939
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Geographisches Institut Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Social geography and ecology
Start/End 01.04.2020 - 31.03.2024
Approved amount 731'727.00
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All Disciplines (3)

Discipline
Social geography and ecology
Political science
Architecture and Social urban science

Keywords (6)

Policy instruments; Social sustainability; Densification; Neoinstitutionalism; Performance-based planning; Land policy

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Die Verdichtung der Bausubstanz - in der Schweiz «Verdichtung nach Innen» genannt - ist ein wichtiger Schritt hin zu einer nachhaltigeren Bodennutzung. Wie alle soziopolitischen Prozesse bringt die Verdichtung jedoch Gewinner, aber auch Verlierer hervor: potentiell mehr Verkehr, mehr Lärm, weniger grüne Räume, weniger Aussicht, mehr NutzerInnen von öffentlichen Dienstleistungen und vor allem höhere Wohnkosten.
Lay summary
Verdichtung bedeutet, sich mit der bereits gebauten Umgebung auseinanderzusetzen. Die Planung erfolgt daher in einem engen Netz von bestehenden Rechten und Pflichten. Vor diesem komplexen institutionellen Hintergrund untersucht das Projekt die Steuerung von Verdichtungsprozessen und die Bedingungen, unter denen eine Verdichtung stattfinden kann, die die Erhaltung der städtischen Qualität für alle ermöglicht, einschliesslich schutzbedürftigerer sozioökonomischer Gruppen.

Das Projekt vergleicht die beiden funktionalen Regionen Bern in der Schweiz und Utrecht in den Niederlanden. Acht «Verdichtungsgeschichten» werden rekonstruiert (vier pro Land). In jedem nationalen Umfeld wird eine detaillierte Analyse der Institutionen, politischen Instrumente, Leistungsanreize, Strategien der Akteure und Bedingungen der Ressource (Nachhaltigkeit) durchgeführt. Gleichzeitig rekonstruiert eine GIS-basierte Analyse Verdichtungsprozesse über die gesamten funktionalen Regionen einschliesslich sozio-politischer und wirtschaftlicher Indikatoren.

Dieses Projekt wird dazu beitragen, die Verdichtung als Governance-Herausforderung zu konzipieren. Eine grosse Herausforderung besteht darin, zu verdichten, ohne die sozialen Ungleichheiten zu vergrössern. Neue Erkenntnisse sollen wirksame Wege zur Erhöhung der Verdichtung liefern, die gleichzeitig eine hohe urbane Qualität für alle gewährleisten.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 23.03.2020

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Abstract

The present project aims to study the institutional determinants of densification challenges. It analyses how densification processes are governed and simultaneously questions the impacts of current attempts at increasing the performance of planning implementation in terms of sustainability. Its overarching research question examines the conditions under which spatial planning can lead more effectively to increased densification while retaining urban quality for all, including more vulnerable socio-economic groups. More specifically: (1) What are the conditions of success and failure of densification processes considering all three - economic, ecological and social - dimensions of sustainability? (2) How does performance-based planning (PBP) contribute to overcome the barriers to achieving densification? (3) In addition, a GIS-based methodology will be developed to analyze how densification outcomes can be measured in the framework of existing institutions.Densification implies to deal with the already built environment. Planning therefore takes place within a tight web of existing rights and duties engraved in complex institutional norms and regulation. Potential for redevelopment projects is often given, but the land is frequently not accessible; because land rights are secured by strongly protected property titles, it is particularly difficult for planning administrations to fight against hoarding strategies. Planning administrations can develop strategies to reinforce their position in front of powerful landowners or economic interests. We refer to these strategies as “land policy”, a more encompassing concept than spatial planning (Alterman 1990). Against this complex institutional backdrop, this project examines whether performance-based planning (PBP) can contribute to streamline the implementation of densification objectives. PBP refers to the application of performance management principles within planning policy and local planning processes to increase effectiveness and actually achieve desired spatial outcomes. Densification is a contested process because of its redistributive effects: for some, it can potentially lead to more traffic, more noise, loss of green surfaces, loss of view, greater clienteles for common services, and higher housing costs. The latter dimension is probably the most fundamental: to implemented densification, redevelopment is needed, which is most often associated with price increases, one of the central drivers of gentrification. Densification will be appraised as a political field by analyzing its socio-political consequences on different categories of stakeholders and their responses. A study design involving a comparison between the two functional regions of Bern in Switzerland and Utrecht in the Netherlands will be used. Using a neoinstitutionalist approach, we will reconstruct eight “stories of densification” (four per country) at the project level (subcases). Relying on a mixed-method approach, in each national setting, a detailed analysis of institutions, policy instruments, performance incentives (PBP), actors’ strategies and conditions of the resource (sustainability) will be performed. Simultaneously a GIS analysis will reconstruct densification processes over the whole functional regions including socio-political and economic indicators. This project will contribute to the “institutional turn” in planning (Gerber et al. 2018) and conceptualize densification as an governance challenge. A particular attention will be paid to the negotiations affecting the different dimensions of sustainability, a major challenge for performance-oriented planning being to densify without increasing social inequalities. On a more practical note, it will provide new insights in effective ways toward increased densification while retaining urban quality for all.
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