- Spatial Planning Can Deal with Transformation and Changes in the Urban Sprawl Laboratory Called Flanders    click here to open paper content449 kb
by    Vloebergh, Guy | guvl@omgeving.be   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
Flanders is one of the most built areas of Europe, planners deal with the phenomenon of ‘urban sprawl’. In the Structure Plan of Flanders the central area got the name ‘Flemish Diamant’. How do planners work with this concept at the local level?
Flanders, the north region of Belgium, is one of the most builded areas of Europe. Planners have to deal with the fenomen of ‘urban sprawl’. In the Spatial Structure Plan of Flanders the central part of the country got the conceptual name ‘the Flemish Diamant’. How do Flemish planners work with this concept on a local level? What means sustainability in this context? What kind of planningstrategies are used in Flanders?
Two cases will show the guiding principles of a succesfull planning. On the one hand there is the ‘planning-minded city’ of Ghent. The creators of the renowned travel guide Lonely Planet seem to agree. In the 2011 edition, Ghent ranks seventh in the list of must-see cities. Lonely Planet describes Ghent as Europe’s best kept secret. Ghent is a historic city, yet at the same time also a contemporary one. The modern daily life of the city’s active 300,000 inhabitants plays itself out against a gorgeous historical backdrop. In Ghent, they live, work and enjoy life over and over again each day. The famed stubbornness of the inhabitants grew historically. Over time Ghent has been transformed into an attractive and lively city. And the inhabitants of Ghent prove their progressiveness and open-mindedness every day. This makes for a colorful city scene, a rich (multi-) cultural appeal and a swinging nightlife. Ghent is one of Flanders’ pilot cities that drew up a spatial structure plan based on the ‘three-tracks methodology’ (long-term vision, short-term actions and communication). In 2003, this ambitious, coherent and strategic plan was admitted by the city government as a framework for the elaboration of the spatial policy. Over the past seven years (2003-2010), OMGEVING cvba, has developed a methodology to evaluate and measure the implementation of the spatial structure plan. In this way the city can monitor whether the implementation of the structure plan is on track. A yearly monitoring system was installed. Through the results of the evaluation, it is possible to identify which projects require a track change or need to shift to a higher gear.
On the other hand one of the greenest municipalities named Brasschaat (37.000 inhabitants) has all other spatial and socio-economic characteristics. It is situated nearby the city of Antwerp, a typical (rich) suburb. Brasschaat presents itself as a high-quality residential area and tries to keep and improve the spatial qualities. The local government works with ambitious strategic plans on dwellings, parks, public spaces and local economy areas. In 2006 Brasschaat won the ‘golden’ International Award for Liveable Communities (LivCom Awards China).

In both cases strategic planning for urban development does not just mean the setting out of a vision and guidelines. The ambitions and projects must also be implemented in practice. Results of a strong spatial policy can by measured towards a far-reaching monitoring of the structure plans. The monitoring of the implementation of tasks is a continuous process. It may form a starting point for new policy decisions: indicators may point to a sticking point or an opportunity. At the same time, good monitoring brings objectivity to their own spatial planning policy. The quantitative and qualitative analysis and evaluation of strategic projects may validate or adjust prior policy decisions.
urban sprawl, spatial structure plan, Flanders, Ghent, Brasschaat
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