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Planning for Polycentricity in European Metropolitan Areas - expectations, rationales and practices


  • Peter Schmitt



Polycentricity is one of the key words coined by the ESDP in 1999 to frame strategic planning at the transnational level. In recent years, however, the concept of polycentricity (and its inherent expectations) has increasingly trickled down as well to the regional level. The paper stems from observations and findings gained from assisting, advising and moderating an international expert group that consists of planners coming from a dozen of European metropolitan areas. Within this group the objective has been to identify major challenges, to reflect current methods, routines and debates and to share lessons and experiences with regard to the applicability and implementation of the concept of polycentricty in their respective metropolitan area. Using text analysis as well as participating observation, the paper will derive a typology of different analytical and normative understandings of polycentricity at the regional level. By exploring three thematic strands that have been chosen by the group to further discuss the potential performance of the concept of polycentricity (here: a: metropolitan governance and the implementation of plans and policies, b: urban sprawl and climate change response, c: functional labour division between centres and economic competitiveness/resilience), the paper will reflect similarities and differences of the planners' rationales and expectations, their current practices and activities and their experiences (so far) that are closely connected to the application of polycentricity within European metropolitan areas. The paper will also illustrate the high degree of context sensitivity to which the concept of polycentricity has to respond to in each of the twelve metropolitan areas that have been examined.

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  • Peter Schmitt, 2011. "Planning for Polycentricity in European Metropolitan Areas - expectations, rationales and practices," ERSA conference papers ersa10p1078, European Regional Science Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa10p1078

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. A.G. Champion, 2001. "A Changing Demographic Regime and Evolving Poly centric Urban Regions: Consequences for the Size, Composition and Distribution of City Populations," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 38(4), pages 657-677, April.
    2. Simin Davoudi, 2003. "EUROPEAN BRIEFING: Polycentricity in European spatial planning: from an analytical tool to a normative agenda," European Planning Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(8), pages 979-999, December.
    3. John Parr, 2004. "The Polycentric Urban Region: A Closer Inspection," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(3), pages 231-240.
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