Land Use Plans: Long Live the Crocodiles

Claeys, Marjolijn and Leinfelder, Hans (2015) Land Use Plans: Long Live the Crocodiles. REAL CORP 2015. PLAN TOGETHER – RIGHT NOW – OVERALL. From Vision to Reality for Vibrant Cities and Regions. Proceedings of 20th International Conference on Urban Planning, Regional Development and Information Society. pp. 391-400.

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Some would say that land use plans are the dinosaurs of planning policy. And indeed, in almost every country in continental Europe land use plans emerged as main instruments in the earliest/almost prehistoric periods of organic planning legislation. But unlike the dinosaurs, land use plans have managed to survive in most of these countries and they have adapted successfully until now as some kind of living fossils. That is why we prefer to see them as crocodiles. Like crocodiles, land use plans appear quite frightening because of their non contemporary unattractive look and their lethal/legal power. Unfortunately, similar to the gradual extinction of crocodiles because of climate change, land use plans seem to become endangered and mainly too because of drastic changes in contextual factors. Since their features seem rather unappealing at first sight, acolytes of crocodiles as well as land use plans rarely raise their voices in the debate about their survival. However, this contribution wants to change strategy. It consciously ignores the characteristics of land use plans that might make them vulnerable. Instead, it addresses three main contextual aspects of its questionable survival. In other words it focuses on the destructive ways in which planners, policy makers and citizens more and more position land use plans as planning instruments. First, planners and policy makers seem to have almost blind faith in the power of land use plans. The latter are still too often considered, by planners as well as policy makers, as the universal solution of each planning process. This dogmatic belief burdens land use plans with impossible expectations since it ignores the original ambition of land use plans, namely offering a framework for the assessment of building permits. It also neglects the role and position of other policy instruments in consolidating the outcomes of a planning process. Secondly, convinced of the robustness of land use plans, in the last two decades policy makers in closely related policy domains such as for instance environmental, nature conservation and cultural heritage policy, have legally linked their own sectoral assessment tools to the approval process of land use plans. Despite the integrating character of planning, this strategy has led primarily to a formal overload of land use plans with sectoral policy goals what makes them obese and vulnerable. Finally, the sensitivity of individual citizens for interference of government in their private property rights has grown tremendously, even when this interference is inspired by public interests. The combination of government’s preference for land use plans as a tool to limit these rights on the one hand and the vulnerability of these plans because of the lethal amount of linked sectoral policies on the other hand, make land use plans ideal subjects for judicial procedures. Already weakened because of the combination of the first two aspects, land use plans are easy preys. Before officially declaring land use plans extinct, this contribution pleads for a drastic sanitation of the societal and political context in which land use plans have to function. We want to prevent these crocodiles from extinction because, in our opinion, land use plans still have an optimistic and meaningful life expectancy. But as crocodiles have adapted to and need a specific climate, land use plans need to be strictly used for the purposes they were generated for originally.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: societal and political context, land use plan, assessment of building permits, sectoral policy, private property right
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
K Law > K Law (General)
Depositing User: REAL CORP Administrator
Date Deposited: 10 Mar 2016 15:09
Last Modified: 10 Mar 2016 15:09

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