Towards business improvement districts in Denmark: Translating a neoliberal urban intervention model into the Nordic context

Martin Richner, Kristian Olesen

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Abstract

This paper investigates how business improvement districts (BIDs) are translated into a Danish context. Drawing on a theoretical framework, combining the concepts of travelling ideas, mobile urbanism and neoliberalisation, this paper explores how an actor-network is being constructed to mobilise support for a BID pilot scheme in Denmark. The introduction of BID-inspired concepts in Denmark represents an illustrative case of how mobile urban policies are translated into local contexts as part of continuous processes of neoliberalisation of urban governance and policy- making. In Denmark, the BID model is promoted as a market-based planning tool to support progressive planning goals of supporting town centres as vibrant commercial centres. Furthermore, the BID concept is, among Danish planners, perceived as a useful organisational framework for the construction of public–private partnerships as add-ons to area-based renewal initiatives in order to strengthen local community support. Such interpretations are not only in stark contrast to BIDs implemented elsewhere, but also require a significant reconfiguration of the model to fit local needs. However, despite the strong social focus, the potential negative consequences of implementing BIDs, such as privatisation and commodification of public space, are barely discussed in the current initial stage of translating the BID model into a Danish context. This raises serious concerns about to what extent planners in Denmark unreflectively are copying a policy concept from elsewhere, with little regard to how the concept should be adapted and what it has to offer in a Danish context.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Urban and Regional Studies
Volume26
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)158-170
Number of pages13
ISSN0969-7764
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

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Denmark
district
organizational framework
planning goal
urban policy
public space
privatization
policy making
town
governance
interpretation
planning
market
community

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abstract = "This paper investigates how business improvement districts (BIDs) are translated into a Danish context. Drawing on a theoretical framework, combining the concepts of travelling ideas, mobile urbanism and neoliberalisation, this paper explores how an actor-network is being constructed to mobilise support for a BID pilot scheme in Denmark. The introduction of BID-inspired concepts in Denmark represents an illustrative case of how mobile urban policies are translated into local contexts as part of continuous processes of neoliberalisation of urban governance and policy- making. In Denmark, the BID model is promoted as a market-based planning tool to support progressive planning goals of supporting town centres as vibrant commercial centres. Furthermore, the BID concept is, among Danish planners, perceived as a useful organisational framework for the construction of public–private partnerships as add-ons to area-based renewal initiatives in order to strengthen local community support. Such interpretations are not only in stark contrast to BIDs implemented elsewhere, but also require a significant reconfiguration of the model to fit local needs. However, despite the strong social focus, the potential negative consequences of implementing BIDs, such as privatisation and commodification of public space, are barely discussed in the current initial stage of translating the BID model into a Danish context. This raises serious concerns about to what extent planners in Denmark unreflectively are copying a policy concept from elsewhere, with little regard to how the concept should be adapted and what it has to offer in a Danish context.",
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Towards business improvement districts in Denmark : Translating a neoliberal urban intervention model into the Nordic context. / Richner, Martin; Olesen, Kristian.

In: European Urban and Regional Studies, Vol. 26, No. 2, 03.2019, p. 158-170.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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