Planning after Planning: Analysis of the public debate on reforming the Danish Planning Act

Olesen, K. (Speaker)

Activity: Talks and presentationsTalks and presentations in private or public companies


In this paper we investigate how recent discourses around the ‘need’ to reform the Danish Planning Act are being structured. Mirroring similar trends across Europe, the Danish planning system rooted in state-led comprehensive planning has in recent decades come under significant pressures. In the last couple of decades the Danish Planning Act has been changed a number of times, including a more strategic orientation to planning and a governance reform of administrative units, forming part of a wider shift towards a greater growth-orientation and more local responsibility for that growth. In the most recent incarnation of this debate, since 2010, local politicians and business interests have criticised the Planning Act, calling for either reform or even the abolition of national planning regulation.

In this paper we carry out a discourse analysis of the current public debate on the Danish Planning Act, highlighting the various actors assembling around the discourse of the need for change in planning, and the issues which are raised in this discussion. The analysis builds on a range of public documents, press releases and statements from various public and private organisations, articles from professional journals and magazines, as well as articles from national and regional newspapers. We identify three key storylines which contribute to the discourse of ‘planning as a barrier for growth’, and we see a broad discourse structuration and at times institutionalisation emerging around the discourse. We conclude that this is a case of discursive closure, whereby other discourses regarding planning have not gained hold. Furthermore, we show how the discourse of ‘planning as a barrier to growth’ has a distinct spatial dimension in the Danish case, in that all the storylines to some extent align with the idea that changes in the Planning Act would combat uneven development in Denmark, and therefore be particularly beneficial for peripheral areas of the country.
Period20 Aug 2015
Event typeConference
Conference number7
LocationStockholm, Sweden