Planning from a future vision: inverse modeling in spatial planning
Spatial planning seeks to regulate demand for land resources with a view to securing the well-being of urban and rural communities. It identifies the decisions that should be made in light of a preferred future development. Yet, preferences for future development change as demands for housing, recreation, food, and life styles are changing rapidly. In this study we aim to introduce a new approach for spatial planning, where the point of departure is not current data, but a future desired by stakeholders. To this end, we propose an inverse modeling approach where the result is a set of values for parameters identified as being key to reach a desired future. We apply the approach to a case study in a metropolitan area in Switzerland in order to illustrate its capabilities for sustainable planning. We invert a hedonic house-price model for identifying urban development options in the case-study area. We show how one can determine the relevant trade-offs between locational, structural, and socioeconomic characteristics given a desired house-price level, and the possible locations and relevant trade-offs for areas where future noise-emitting factories are to be planned. We discuss advantages and shortcomings of the approach for planners and draw conclusions about the effectiveness of the approach as a means of encouraging lay people and stakeholders to become involved efficiently in sustainable development issues.
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