Jean-Paul Lacaze specializes in town planning matters and we already published an article (Futuribles, June 2003) in which he compared two models of urban growth (London and Paris). Here he analyses recent developments in French regional land-use planning and, more specifically, in the strategic planning associated with it.
After defining the concept of regional land-use planning, Jean-Paul Lacaze suggests, in the light of past experience, which conditions are required for effective strategic planning, both external (the economic and social context, etc.) and internal (management by public authorities, involvement of multidisciplinary teams, etc.). He goes on to describe the current background to regional planning in France (urbanization, urban sprawl, public amenities, decentralization), focussing in particular on the three most recent pieces of major legislation in this area (the laws named after the Ministers who promoted them, Voynet and Chevènement, and the one on "Solidarity and Urban Renewal"). Lacaze argues that all this legislation can harm the efficient implementation of planning policies because it leads to an increase in bureaucratic procedures, with administrative tribunals tending to make the ultimate decisions.
Lastly, Lacaze proposes some possible ways forward. In particular, he stresses the need for an increase in participative democracy (and therefore improvements in governance) in this area. He concludes that strategic planning should involve far more economic development programmes (aimed at creating jobs and new activities across the whole country), rather than on land-use planning policies as such.