Gaps and barriers in current spatial planning practices

Read more about the capacity gap assessment conducted by IN-PLAN to know all about what is missing and what prevent cities and regions from effective spatial planning. #LifeINPLAN

Many local and regional authorities in Europe are looking for effective approaches to implement ambitious climate targets by 2050 or even earlier. To do so, they make plans targeting climate, energy, or mobility. The role and integration of climate and energy aspects in spatial planning processes have been increasingly analysed and addressed in recent years. There is a strong correlation between spatial structures when it comes to energy demand and supply, as well as mobility. In general, spatial planning offers a variety of opportunities to shape climate mitigation and adaptation and to advance the energy transition that is necessary to achieve climate neutrality.

Nevertheless, this report seeks to identify current gaps and barriers that most often hinder the integration of climate and energy considerations into spatial planning in Europe. This assessment of capacity gaps will ultimately form the basis for the “IN-PLAN Practice”, which is a permanent support structure designed to help local and regional authorities to implement their sustainable energy and climate plans by integrating them into spatial planning. As such, the “IN-PLAN Practice” will present a set of guidelines and tools to be used in all kinds of spatial planning processes.

The gaps and barriers addressed in this report were collected by a three-fold analysis:

Online Survey among municipalities about capacity gaps in current spatial planning

An online EU Survey was shared with several municipalities and regions within Europe (primarily the project’s “lighthouses”) to assess the capacity level and what they think is missing in their planning approaches. Answers were received by the following local authorities: Pazin, Zagreb, and Križevci from Croatia; Narni, Padua, and Prato from Italy; Sebeș, Cluj-Napoca, and Alba Iulia from Romania; Trollhättan, Mölndal, and Borås from Sweden; Tipperary and Southern Region from Ireland; Rethymno in Greece; and Liège in Belgium.

In-person / online workshops with the lighthouses

In addition to the survey, the “lighthouses” participated in workshops to discuss current local-specific spatial planning practices, needs, gaps and barriers, and possible solutions for better-integrating climate and energy aspects. The participants were tasked to outline the basics of the local planning processes, and the needs and barriers that currently hinder the integration of climate and energy aspects in spatial planning.

Analysis of projects & Literature

Lastly, an analysis was conducted of ongoing and completed capacity-building projects with cities or municipalities/counties and regions as the main target group and focusing on climate change mitigation/adaptation, energy and mobility. The core question for this analysis was: What type of problem did these projects try to address? The following projects were looked at in more detail:

  • URBAN LEARNING (2015-2017)
  • CityZen (2019-2023)
  • SIMPLA (Sustainable Integrated Multi-sector PLAnning) (2016-2019)
  • CITIESMULTIPLY (2018-2022)
  • PentaHelix (2018-2021)

A much more detailed analysis of current best practices concerning integrating energy and climate aspects into spatial planning can be found in the D2.1 Stocktake on available good planning practices.

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What is missing in Energy, Climate, and Spatial planning?

Are you involved in Energy, Climate, Urban, or Spacial planning of your territory? Would you like to share how it is done there? Then, at IN-PLAN, we are interested in your experience!