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The national planning systems

The redevelopment of railway station areas is subject to opportunities and constraints caused by the national planning system in each country. Yet, as public authorities at all levels of government have often a stake (in one way or another), a certain 'leniency' can be expected towards these projects. This accounts for both opportunities and constraints. Consequently, although the influence of the national planning system on these projects cannot be denied, it touches them less than it would other projects. It is for this reason that in this study we limit ourselves to a concise characterization of the planning systems in general, presented in this section, and an equally short introduction to each planning system at the beginning of the case studies.

According to Healey and Williams (1993, pp. 701-720), planning systems can be characterized by variations in national legal and constitutional structures on the one hand, and by administrative and professional cultures on the other. Inspired by this distinction, Newman and Thornley (1996, pp. 27-75) try to identify families of legal styles and families of administrative structures. Their legal and administrative typology is based on the criterion of how these structures affect planning at the local level. Within each type or family one can expect similar approaches in tackling complex planning problems such as the redevelopment of railway station areas. Newman and Thornley (1996, pp. 28-30) use the concept of legal style, which denotes the distinctive elements that give the system its particular form. Factors that contribute to this style are its historical development, its legal mode of thought, and its ideology. They identify four different European legal styles or families (Figure 4.1).

Legal families

Administrative families

British

Scandinavian

British

England

Norway

Wales

Sweden

Ireland

Finland

Germanic

Napoleonic

Germanic

France

Germany

Italy

Greece

Switzerland

Spain

Austria

Portugal

Netherlands

Belgium

Luxemburg

Scandinavian

British

UK

Norway

Ireland

Sweden

Finland

Denmark

Napoleonic

Germanic

France

Italy

Greece

Portugal

Netherlands

Luxemburg

Switzerland

Austria

Spain Belgium

Fig. 4.1 Legal and administrative 'families' in Europe. (Source: Newman and Thornley, 1996, p. 29)

The grouping of these national planning systems shows a close relationship with a north-south division. This distinction not only makes sense (e.g. Page and Goldsmith, 1987), but can also be traced back to the balance between central and local government. The locus of power may be presumed to have a significant effect on the autonomy and strength of urban planning. In the literature, according to Newman and Thornley (1996, p. 30), there is general agreement on the four categories presented in Figure 4.1, although the labels may differ. It can be regarded as a good starting point for analysis in an international comparative framework.

In conclusion, although the redevelopment of railway station areas may entail such large projects that it falls outside the sphere of influence of national planning systems, at the same time it is part of the national planning system. Thus a rather schizophrenic and sometimes tense relation can exist whereby redevelopment projects may be obstructed by elements of the national planning system (building permits), but sometimes may be assisted or supported by it (compulsory purchase). Consequently, in trying to understand and assess each case study, it is important to keep in mind the institutional setting under which the redevelopment of railway station areas in different countries takes place, including the pressures derived from it. Those pressures will be dealt with in the next section.

Pressures from institutional conditions

Next to differences between national planning systems, there are also many similarities. The institutional conditions in Europe suffer under more or less similar pressures. In Europe the most important common pressures on the institutional conditions are deregulation, constraints on public expenditure, a shift from social objectives towards primarily economic and secondarily environmental objectives, the rise (and fall) of public-private partnerships, and the emerging centrality of infrastructure investment.

Deregulation

In most countries in Europe deregulation is an important political topic. However, if we consult empirical studies on this subject, we are likely to conclude that its practical importance is negligible. In the Netherlands, for example, only 7% of municipalities have taken up some kind of deregulation activity (Spit, 1993, pp. 139-140). Deregulation can be directed at the regulations themselves, or at the implementation and monitoring of those regulations. Although a relation with the ideological dimension of a 'withdrawing' government is sometimes apparent in the background, deregulation seems to be a pragmatic process. Both in the official world and on the political agenda, it appears to have little meaning. At least in the Netherlands, municipalities are likely to think that few rules are superfluous, and that deregulation would contribute very little in financial terms.

The British experience with deregulation presents a characteristically mixed picture, which also sheds light on development elsewhere. During the Thatcher years, planning was certainly under attack as a bureaucratic restriction on the operation of the free market. Practice, however, has shown that even former antiplanners (such as Michael Heseltine) have called for more regulation, for example in areas with rapidly escalating problems of congestion (Bell and Cloke, 1990, pp. 3-28). Railway station areas are known to be vulnerable in this respect. This mixed picture can be found throughout Europe, but is at its most extreme in the UK. On the one hand there are situations in which the private sector demands more regulation (and planning), while on the other hand there are areas where the tendency is for planning and control to be almost completely abolished. It will be clear that, against the background of their vulnerability, in railway station areas there will be always a certain amount of planning and regulation, dependent upon their existing use and further plans for redevelopment.

Constraints on public expenditure

The desire to decrease the budget deficit, which is persistent at the level of central government, is ubiquitous. This is expressed in a wide range of policy measures towards municipalities, some of them more coercive than others. Jointly, they create fiscal stress of some kind, which constitutes the strongest effect on municipalities. The institutional arrangements are the key to implementing measures to mitigate fiscal stress. The static design and the dynamic process of intergovernmental relations are important elements in the analysis. But the specific circumstances (historical or spatial) also have to be taken into account.

The persistent budgetary problems of local government in the 1980s plagued not only European municipalities but also those in the USA (Clark and Ferguson, 1983; Clarke, 1989). In order to tackle the problems caused by decreasing budgets, municipalities forged particular strategies. The strategies developed in one country are often similar to those devised in other countries.

As far as the redevelopment of railway station areas is concerned it is important to notice that retrenchment policies at all levels of public government have opened new opportunities for private initiatives as the strong emphasis on socially oriented public policy has gradually shifted towards a more economically oriented policy. This tendency will be elaborated in the following subsections.

A shift from social objectives towards primarily economic and secondarily environmental objectives

The general tendency in Europe to cut back public expenditure has also had its effects on public policy objectives. Throughout Europe the once common emphasis on social policy has shifted towards more economically oriented policies. In its slipstream, however, it can generate environmental damage or, otherwise formulated, can increase the volume of existing damage. Therefore, next to economic policy objectives, environmental rules and regulations are developed to counteract expected environmental damage from economic development. In planning literature on this subject, it is sometimes referred to as growth management (Stein, 1993; Cullingworth, 1997). The combination of emphasis on environmental policies and economic development can cause problems in the development process, as they represent each other's 'natural' counterparts. This shift has also opened opportunities for public-private partnerships, especially in those countries that lagged behind in this respect. This development will be illustrated in the next subsection.

The rise (and fall) of public-private partnerships

The rise and fall of the importance of public-private partnerships is closely related to the transition from a socially oriented public policy towards a more economically oriented policy. The role and meaning of public-private partnerships tended to change after the transition. This tendency was visible throughout Europe, albeit with different national accents.

If we look at public-private cooperation in Europe from a historical perspective, in general three periods can be distinguished since the Second World War, though each period may differ somewhat from one country to another:

1. The period of recovery and reconstruction of city centres, especially in those countries that suffered damage in the war. In this period a technical approach was considered. This period runs from about 1945 to 1970.

2. The period of socially oriented urban renewal, which runs from about 1970 to the early 1980s.

3. The period of urban innovation with an entrepreneurial approach, from the early 1980s up to the present (Kreukels and Spit, 1990).

Not only the actual developments but also the cultural and socio-psychological climate distinguish these periods from each other. In the first period, which runs from shortly after the war to the late 1960s, public-private partnerships arose as a common form of cooperation. Public-private partnerships are therefore by no means a new phenomenon. Especially during the period of reconstruction after the Second World War, when big projects were realized in order to make up for lost time in the years 1940-1945 with regard to spatial planning, this was often done in some form of public-private cooperation. Forced by the—for both parties— pressing objective that the projects be realized as soon as possible, and pushed on by a growing economy and a substantial rise in real estate prices, large-scale projects were initiated in this period, particularly in the field of infrastructure development and housing. In this period cooperation between the authorities and trade and industry came into being, which could be characterized as simple, yet pragmatic, and seldom caused problems against the background of those days (Lemstra, 1987).

From the late 1960s onwards the social and economic circumstances began to change. In this period, pressure groups and interest groups succeeded increasingly in convincing the authorities to focus more attention on predominantly social objectives in government policy. The contribution of trade and industry was often out of step with this policy. This explains why cooperation with trade and industry was exchanged for government projects. The real estate sector was drastically eliminated in the urban renewal of those days, in a pronounced and active approach from the government. The sector in this period lost touch not only with the authorities, but also with the cities. All this had a great influence on policy programmes and the administrative organization. Planning, planning procedures, and methods of financing were directed by government as the central actor.

The antagonism between administration and trade and industry in the 1970s continued with these policy frameworks in the next period, which started with the economic crisis of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Mainly under the pressure of rapidly rising governmental responsibilities (and, related to this, government spending), but particularly the rapid rise in value of real estate, the authorities increasingly realized that you could not exclude the involvement of the real estate sector over a longer period without substantial losses in building and housing. Local authorities began to focus attention on alternative possibilities for project financing, pressed by shrinking budgets. All kinds of modernization process appeared.

At the end of the third period, the once euphoric expectations have come down to more realistic terms. As one could expect, as both parties have become more experienced with these kinds of project, the related problems have gained wider recognition. The problematic aspects of developing complex spatial projects in a public-private cooperation are once more regarded with some distrust. However, this distrust does not focus on the same arguments as before. Nowadays it often has more to do with a kind of reluctance to accept the unavoidable delays and complications that appear to be inherent in public-private partnerships.

As huge interests are at stake for both public and private parties concerning the redevelopment of railway station areas, public-private partnerships constitute a self-evident way of organizing it. Consequently, when the institutional conditions are not favourable, this generates significant effects on the redevelopment possibilities for railway station areas.

The emerging centrality of infrastructure investment

Governments invest continuously in infrastructure. However, it is not easy to present a general overview of investment in infrastructure in Europe. Although infrastructure has the general character of a collective good, investment in it is not solely public. Private enterprises (or semiprivate enterprises, such as most railway corporations) also invest in infrastructure. Yet the bulk is public investment. Through the 1970s and 1980s in countries in Europe investment in transport infrastructure has been decreasing, as Table 4.1 shows.

Although Table 4.1 shows figures until 1989 only, it is important to notice that most countries show a decline in investment in infrastructure during this period: a remarkably sharp decline can be seen in the Netherlands, France and the UK. Only Italy and Sweden are capable of creating an increase in investment after a minor setback. Table 4.1 shows that most countries in Europe are in arrears, and are trying to make up for it, as Table 4.2 shows for rail infrastructure.

The figures in Table 4.2 are derived from operational plans in each country. Although this makes the intentions in each country clearly visible, it does not guarantee their execution as planned. Therefore Table 4.1 can be interpreted only in general terms. Relatively speaking, the Netherlands is in a leading position, while the UK has planned to invest only some 9% of the Dutch investment per route-kilometre (Spit and Jansen, 1997, pp. 6-7).

Investment in infrastructure differs not only in time, but also between countries, as is shown in Tables 4.1 and 4.2. As the finance of infrastructure is a matter for national governments, in combination with (sometimes highly subsidized) public transport companies, an increasing tendency towards centralization can be seen. This tendency is completely consistent with the efforts in spatial planning to combat congestion problems in densely populated urban areas, but also with a returning interest in infrastructure investment as a means of stimulating economic development. This tendency towards centralization, however, is not peculiar to infrastructure development; it can be seen in all kinds of policy making throughout Europe. Yet at the same time an opposite movement is shown: decentralization. The two developments represent opposite sides of the same coin. This will be the subject of the next subsection.

Centralizing and decentralizing tendencies in national policy making

Centralizing and decentralizing tendencies refer to changes in policy making in levels of scale, especially between national governments and municipalities (Page and Goldsmith, 1987). The need to change policy making between levels of governments is often felt to be inescapable. The need is most sharply felt at a regional level of government, often referred to as the regionalization problem. This is relevant for large infrastructure development; although the immediate costs are spatially limited, its benefits spread out widely.

The regionalization problem arises when that (subregional) level is lacking. Such a gap is caused by a confrontation between sector-specific developments and administrative boundaries. The sectoral and administrative interests conflict, drift apart, or are hardly connected any more. That gap is still widening as a result of societal developments. The spatial consequences of this gap are dynamic, while the administrative structures remain stationary. Here we define regionalization as an administrative process. It originates in attempts to close

Table 4.1 Development of investments in transport infrastructure by constant prices 1975-1989 (1975=100)

1976

1977

1978

1980

1981

1982

1983

1984

1985

1986

1987

1988

1989

Austria

98

103

117

122

123

110

100

103

102

-

-

-

~

Belgium

105

106

98

102

110

100

88

70

62

50

50

43

48

Denmark

100

96

104

91

84

68

62

61

56

45

43

40

36

Germany

97

98

101

99

94

85

79

77

74

75

79

79

76

Finland

97

92

89

97

97

96

97

92

93

86

90

94

90

France

101

87

84

77

90

82

73

79

68

65

71

78

85

Greece

103

91

82

88

71

72

79

88

99

79

64

50

56

Ireland

78

105

120

127

134

171

193

202

190

210

215

185

159

Italy

87

75

76

74

81

90

101

117

129

115

145

156

174

Luxemburg

88

100

107

110

107

95

91

99

100

91

98

100

110

Netherlands

94

81

83

83

86

78

-

-

-

71

63

67

66

Norway

101

109

115

107

105

95

91

99

100

91

98

100

110

Portugal

59

95

90

75

97

120

117

105

70

43

53

61

65

Spain

93

91

58

55

54

53

61

75

53

35

50

56

80

Sweden

92

85

92

91

88

75

76

84

84

130

133

136

148

Switzerland

108

96

87

83

76

78

76

78

75

86

87

90

97

United Kingdom

89

70

70

74

72

68

72

73

74

78

78

78

76

Yugoslavia

126

134

165

181

158

128

101

100

99

-

-

-

-

Note: The year 1979 is not represented in this table because of missing data [2

Source: derived from: ECMT (1988) Investment in Transport Infrastructure in ECMT Countries; ECMT (1992) Statistical Trends in O Transport 1956-1988. Both taken from Bruinsma and Rietveld (1995), p. 102. ^

Note: The year 1979 is not represented in this table because of missing data [2

Source: derived from: ECMT (1988) Investment in Transport Infrastructure in ECMT Countries; ECMT (1992) Statistical Trends in O Transport 1956-1988. Both taken from Bruinsma and Rietveld (1995), p. 102. ^

Table 4.2 A comparison of planned investment in rail infrastructure in Europe, as of 1994

Country

Railway

Investments

Investment

Length of

Million

Rank

company

(millions)

(million ECU)

route (km)

ECU per km

Netherlands

NS

G 18718

8 689.1

2 798

3.105

1

Switzerland

SBB

SFr 10 990

6 516.7

2 982

2.185

2

Belgium

SNCB

BFr 264 000

6 470.3

3 466

1.867

3

Germany

DB

DM 119 949

62 463.2

45 706

1.367

4

Denmark

DSB

DKr 10 440

1 372.1

2 344

0.585

5

France

SNCF

Fr 133 333

20 019^4

34 322

0.583

6

Norway

NSB

NRr 16 106

1 933.2

4 027

0.480

7

Spain

RENFE

Pta 916 650

5 940.4

13 060

0.455

8

Portugal

CP

Esc 300 000

1 541.1

3 910

0.394

9

Sweden

BV

SKr 38 100

4 080.5

10 970

0.372

10

United Kingdom

BR

£3 307

4 386.5

16 588

0.266

11

Finland

VR

Fmk 4 800

737.1

5 853

0.126

12

Source: Rail Business Report (1994)

Source: Rail Business Report (1994)

the gap between administrative structures and the optimal scale for public service. This process is related to networks and coalitions within the various sectors of the economy.

We distinguish two kinds of regionalization process: changes from the bottom up, and changes from the top down. The bottom-up process refers to municipal activities originating at the local level that are eventually carried out at a subregional level. Two more or less autonomous economies of scale explain this phenomenon.

First, there is a technical increase in scale. Municipalities often lack the money and manpower to satisfy all the demands that have been voiced by the public. In order to optimize their level of services, and concomitantly their effectiveness and efficiency, municipalities try to minimize the problems engendered by changes in scale. In many cases they negotiate with other municipalities to create joint facilities. Activities organized in this way include waste disposal, health care, water purification, energy distribution, and environmental control.

Second, there is a general trend towards enlargement of scale. Spatial developments and administrative borders hardly coincide anymore. This is because societal developments with spatial consequences have become increasingly dynamic, whereas administrative structures have remained stationary. Considering both kinds of scale enlargement, it is not surprising that municipalities show a growing need for cooperation. The need is particularly acute in the areas of planning, coordination, and implementation of municipal policy.

The other kind of regionalization, a top-down process, is characterized by delegation of activities and responsibilities from the central government to the subregional administrative level. For the central government, this seems to provide new opportunities for the ongoing decentralization process. Yet there are hardly any administrative structures capable of coping with these newly acquired responsibilities. Therefore, sometimes new ways are developed for dealing with the administrative gap between the national level and the municipality.

From a sectoral point of view, these kinds of regionalization reinforce each other, as the basic impetus for both is virtually the same: a growing realization of the need for more efficient public administration and a revised planning concept. The processes differ, however, on the criteria for the optimal scale of government activities. A distinction can be made between the problems arising from economies of scale and a sectoral need for more adequate planning tools. This distinction reflects an administrative perspective.

Centralizing and decentralizing tendencies are important in railway station area redevelopment, as both kinds of pressure are visible. From the top down there is an urge to improve public transport rapidly in order to alleviate traffic problems and develop the surrounding areas. A similar urge is felt at the local level, but at the same time—as the costs of development are felt most at the local level—countervailing powers are prominently present to slow the development process down. This is not surprising, as there are numerous actors in the redevelopment process, and their interests differ accordingly. This factor will be dealt with in the next section.

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