Making Sense of Integrated Planning : Challenges to Urban and Transport Planning Processes in Sweden

Abstract: The shaping of spatial structures at the urban, regional and national levels involves numerous kinds of actors and planning activities. In recent years, calls for crosssectoral coordination and integrated planning approaches echo extensively across different fields of planning. However, experiences from planning situations around Sweden and elsewhere reveal great challenges to such ambitions. This thesis explores key conditions for an integrated approach to urban and transport planning, focusing on the relationships between public professional actors and agencies involved in the interface between urban and transport planning and strategy making, at the local and national level in Sweden. The theoretical framework is based on communicative planning theory and theories on sensemaking. The empirical material emanates from the project The Livable City, a collaboration project between three Swedish municipalities and national authorities responsible for transport and urban planning in Sweden. The aim of The Livable City was to develop knowledge about integrated planning of the built environment and transport systems and to develop integrated processes for coordination of different interests, demands and needs. Case studies were conducted, based on document studies, interviews and observations. The results from this study illustrate various aspects of how plans and strategies in a multiperspective environment need to make sense to actors with different perspectives on what planning is all about. A sensemaking perspective on planning suggests that plans and strategies to promote an integrated approach to planning will always be partial and selective despite ambitions for these to be comprehensive or holistic. Commitment, reification and participation have in the cases proven to be useful concepts to understand the sensemaking aspect of planning practice. Interactive processes may inform the shaping of perspectives and can therefore be an element in efforts to promote integrated approaches to urban and transport planning, although the extent to which this may be achieved is highly dependent on contextual conditions and will vary from case to case.

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