Understanding the reorientations and roles of spatial planning: The case of national planning policy in Denmark

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Spatial planning commonly adopts a diversity of functions and logics in contributing to handle growth and development. Being influenced by an array of contextual driving forces that result in specific institutional practices and policy agendas, spatial planning seems to be constantly reoriented in terms of its purposes and reasoning. This article sets out to explore the diverse orientations and roles that spatial planning has assumed in Denmark over a 50-year period. In doing so, the article examines the evolution of national planning policy by means of a multi-disciplinary framework comprised by analytical concepts drawn from planning theory, state spatial theory and discourse analysis. Based on an in-depth study, the article then attempts to qualify, illustrate and synthesise the diverse roles that spatial planning has taken in Denmark throughout that time frame. The article concludes that spatial planning initially assumed a steering role, which has been either supplemented or substituted by balancing and/or strategic roles in the course of the past two decades. Taken as a whole, this case is thought to contribute to current discussions regarding how spatial planning is shaped in different parts of Europe.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Planning Studies
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)1359-1392
Number of pages33
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012


  • spatial planning; national planning policy; planning roles; development orientations; Denmark.

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