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There are various functions covered by natural potentials, for example “urban green” plays an important climatic role (air circulation, humidity balance, temperature balance) and has mitigation / compensation functions on air pollutants. Green wedges allow the penetration/exchange with the surrounding natural environment. Other aspects would cover changes in the water balance due to surface sealing influencing the water recharge and supply in cities.
The way spatial functions are organised in a town affect urban life dynamics and the relations between space and environmental pressure it generates. So there is a very particular relation between the natural potential in urbanised areas and the organisation of space organised through current urban planning practice. At present, separation tendencies are widely spread. More often the city centre is losing its resident population and is collecting more and more commuters, where suburban development is matched by a trend towards functional separation.
From existing zones towards new spatial arrangements
Open space holds a high potential in many respects, both for urban development and being a green reserve in build up areas. There is high pressure on those areas and its sound development is a delicate task, nevertheless an important question turns up: What kind of development would give rise to problems?
Zoning of urbanised spaces with its natural resources and the remaining environmental potential with a view to ease the pressure on the environment and providing opportunities to guide developments in a sustainable way.
The organisation of space,
efficient flow management and environmental quality control are the starting
points for any considerations on the sustainable town. These aspects can
be effectively dealt with through integrated planning and assessment procedures.
Sound urban planning affords rethinking of the “land” according
to its functions, cycles and relations.
Previous experiences linked to the application of environmental assessments on specific plans call for further investigations, comparative controls and validations. Available know-how as a valuable source need to be regarded and verified in order to develop strategic actions that have the potential to improve the environmental situation in urbanised areas. Since quality is fundamental when making reviews and forecasts for an development scenario, appropriate measures and operative instruments should be screened and eventually re-designed to achieve necessary validation. The complexity of the urban system is apparent and the local scale is very appropriate to tackle specific problems which undoubtedly relate and exchange with its surroundings.
Objectives and benefits
New forms of co-operation arrangements will be evaluated, with respect to land management, settlement placing, transportation and resource development. It would also imply going from land zoning by functions to zoning by environmental conditions, fully rethinking the territory according to functions, cycles and relationships.
Increasing open space >
The potential for future development options will receive central attention herein, therefore processes and follow-up activities that add to the current potential are very interesting for discussion.
Regarding SD of the urban suburban areas some major issues must be brought together in environmental planning and policy making. Adapted forms of control and monitoring should be implemented to support interdependent work and planning with an eye on conservation on resources and natural potentials of regarded areas. This will bridge to cross-cutting issues through setting new priorities in governance, public participation and early evaluation of planned developments.
To pursue new approaches in
sustainable practice through specific measures in selected main topics,
a reflection on problems in strategic planning (e.g. administration) and
the public’s attitude in policies and programmes is required. People’s
notion on certain topics are different, therefore it will be needed to
select and pinpoint the main implications for planning and development
options which are of public interest and bring them in a joint context.
The regional level need to be considered with its objectives and potential support towards the local level whereas, the local level is asked to present actions for local sustainable development with a view on regional activities and views.
The objective in this respect
would be to provide support for local administration in order to take
the lead and to inform on environmental issues and sustainable future
development options. Since all the above issues and objectives require
intensive work, well establishes information resources, both about the
current state and the key elements which have been chosen to deal with,
New approaches for planning, recognising the various ideas and desires of local stakeholders within different zones.
Rethinking private public relations, thinking of new forms of business involvement.
Making use of existing structures and looking for necessary and reasonable links between different decision levels.
Integrated planning includes a number of intertwined chosen sectoral issues. In this respect the screening and scooping of main topics and sectors will lead to a new arrangement of tasks and assessment procedures.
Within this context, the strategic
planning will deal with possible alternatives, outlined in the planning
On the basis of the current situation, suggestions for new forms of strategic environmental planning will be confronted to traditional planning processes.
Against this background, it
is possible, to start a process aimed at:
The integration of various stakeholders raises the question - what do we have to expect when inviting different interest groups?
When bringing in the many different ideas of the people, the scientific and the non-scientific spheres will collide. It would be necessary to shape these broad aspects into a workable frame, regarding uncertain starting conditions because of “NIMBY-representatives” and the “no-action or no-development representatives”, or interest groups which are misguided because of unpopular measures and development options.
Being aware of the these circumstances it will need a flexible and open framework that gives space for
- Changing the focus on relevant
At that point it is important to step forward and hold out prospects for those who are concerned – either its prospects in success or improvement of their situation. Therefore, in order to get interest and support as well as more understanding on joint SD, tangible results and success for the planning body and for groups of stakeholders are needed. Results and success-stories relate directly to applied or practical examples that regard space round us – focusing on existing structures of the built environment and the development-potential of existing space.
What could be promising mechanisms to change established behaviour in planning and decision making?
Improvements in the decision making processes rely on practical information, measures and mechanisms for better judgement. Another step forward is to raise knowledge on particular local issues, as for example the environmental potential of certain zones in order to characterise vulnerable dimensions and focus on sustainable solutions and development scenarios.
The introduction of environmental assessment procedures for certain plans or programmes, aims at optimising environmental quality in respective thematic areas and improving processes that lead to significant results and good practice.
- to re-fashion planning design
and give space for improvement and compensation measures.
Selected issues in this respect
Scale of action
The development of sectoral analysis calls for the definition of an appropriate scale of in-depth investigations. Against this background, measures need to be related to various scales, depending on the respective subjects.
To this end, contents would
have to refer to:
Environmental assessment applied to plans, like the SEA, therefore, intends to become an effective support tool for managing urban changes and contribute to the advancement and enhancement of the skills needed to deal positively with the new urban issues. Hence, at present urban development has to deal with new laws, strong economic forces, policies, cultural heritage and public opinion that, more or less openly, allow or require a much more mature planning management of the environment. Learning from good practice and transferring these results to the strategic planning level is a promising task to do.
The application of integrated environmental assessments on plans and programmes bears an effective operational approach for improving strategic planning practice in urbanised environments.
Such assessments deal with “concepts” and therefore refer to a set of objectives, principles and policies that relate to developments which are incorporated in proposed programmes.
Certainly, the use of the term and the meaning of policy, programme and plan varies in each country. But what is important is, that they contain a certain structure or set the structure for another programme. That means that links between different planning levels need to be considered, for example area based programmes cover various activities in a given area, such as urban land-use plans, development plans, traffic management etc., and the conceptual design of assessment approaches have to react on that.
The main difference to normal “environmental impact assessments” (EIA) is that strategic assessments proactively anticipate on planned developments. This is also due to the fact that EIAs take place when the strategic part is already done. The establishment of an integrated planning approach means that environmental and sustainable criteria are integrated right from the beginning and trough out the planning phase.
Summarizing the above, its reasonable to assume that building on good practice would add to and contain big improvements for any further strategic planning activities, setting sustainable targets and relevant measures. Consequently,
• environmental and sustainable
criteria could therefore be incorporated in the objectives
Examples for sustainability
Coming down to a more concrete level, for example to indicators, sets of measures or the neighbourhood, it is important to regard the right level of detail to keep up with demands:
- Data availability
In order to gather an appropriate
array of objectives that would suit many a situations and catch most of
the people’s interest, we could choose from several sources:
Also a combination of development alternatives might be considerable or, it might be helpful to analyse just the most extreme ones from all foregoing alternatives, to view the widest possible impacts.
• What are the
demands and planning needs
In this respect the key environmental issues that have an impact on decision making will be addressed. This procedural step is relevant, as the coherence of intended measures and possible outcomes will throw a light on the complexity of interrelated topics and processes. That is simply because there are more impacts to be expected and more alternatives to be considered at this strategic planning level. Eventually, the range of potential impacts need to be reduced, to the very crucial ones that influence decision-making.
Within the stage of the base-line
identification it is also helpful to create „scenarios“ that
describe the current state, by extrapolating the existing trends or a
range of future baseline conditions.
Within that task the identification of specific key-issues, for example thematic overlaps will appear.
This evaluation should be directly linked to the key issues identified during the scoping stage as well as related to the environmental conditions of the possibly affected areas. Within that stage the assessment will point out indirect and cumulative impacts.
or Consistency Assessment
• Scenario analysis
Sensitivity of the receiving environment is a crucial thing in here, as it will vary according to the use of the area. E.g. changing land use over time, traffic increase etc.
Within that frame it might be helpful to oppose overlapping developments to evaluate one with another. This clarifies the relative importance of various objectives and supports transparency.
and “next steps”
Maintained by Katrina Lewis.