With growing interconnectedness on a European and a global scale, the task arises to facilitate an exchange on economic, social, and environmental developments beyond Europe's boundaries. On an international scale, it is still not clear if or in what way planning paradigms, planning systems, planning strategies, and planning cultures are adapting when faced with urban shrinkage.
Differing institutional and cultural conditions have brought about spatial planning systems that show basic comparable features; however, these planning systems are tailored to specific cultural, normative and spatial situations. Despite the growing demand for an international viewpoint in urban and regional planning, planning cultures is not (yet) an established research topic in the sphere of urban and regional development.
The second sphere of interest in the project PlanShrinking is urban shrinkage. There is a rising awareness that several cities in Europe and the US have to deal with challenges of long-term demographic and economic changes leading to housing vacancies, underused infrastructure and other negative impacts (compare ongoing research work by the COST Action 0803 Cities ReGrowing smaller). Often, issues of shrinking cities were predominantly interpreted as effects of hollowing out processes of the urban centres, triggered by suburbanisation and urban sprawl. In contrast to such assumptions, overarching globalisation pressures initiated decline in many American and European regions. However, extent spatial distributions of population decrease differ significantly between Europe and the US.
The research project PlanShrinking places shrinking cities in a globel perspective setting the context for indepth case studies in the USA and Germany. The comparative approach will consider specific cultural, social, economic, environmental and land-use issues. Applying the 'right' strategies when it comes to the makeover of a shrinking city in whatever way seems to be crucial, yet it remains unknown territory.
This project has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme as part of a Marie-Curie International Reintegration Grant under the grant agreement n° 268296.