- Networking and Urban networks in Flanders. The case of the Flemish Diamond    click here to open paper content1509 kb
by    Van den Broeck, Jef | jef.vdbroeck@pandora.be   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
In the 'Structure Plan of Flanders/Belgium, the notion 'Urban Network' is introduced as a spatial concept.The study defines the notion and developes a proper approach and a possible policy taking into account the urban dynamics(sprawl,...) and the growing impact of urban regions in the worldwide economic competition between them.
Networking and Urban Networks
(1) In a globalize economy, the influence of urban regions is growing. We can define 'urban regions' as dense areas with strategic economic activities, headquarters of multinationals, important (governmental services and institutions, universities, research centers, high level cultural activities,...They can be a monocentric metropolis (Paris, London,...) or a polycentric conglomerate of different bigger and smaller cities with each a specific character and profile(Ruhr-area/Germany, Randstad Holland,...).
(2) A main urban region in Belgium with an international vocation, in the Spatial Structure Plan Flanders, is called 'the Urban Network: Flemish Diamond'.
It is the area between and around Brussels, Antwerp, Gent and Leuven with ca 4 million inhabitants.
Within such regions or networks strategic alliances are growing between different public and private actors in order to realize their objectives within a 'com-co-operative' environment. 'Networking' between such actors is used as a tool.
(3)Within these areas urban planning is confronted with a diffuse pattern of social, economic and spatial relations. The hierarchical relations between the traditional nodes (historic cities) are disappearing influencing the structure and the image of the area. Sprawl and fragmentation is becoming a characteristic feature of such areas. We could call it a new kind of urbanity.
(4) The study focuses on different questions trying to develop a proper approach and a policy for such areas:
- Which are the challenges for spatial planning taking into account the dynamics and phenomena mentioned before;
- What can be the role of spatial planning and planners and which instruments can be used?
- What does 'Urban Networks' mean and is it possible to combine the international vocation with new urbanity and the livability of the area;
- As an example: what can be the policy in the 'Flemish Diamond'?
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