Reference : Integration vs. fragmentation: Spatial governance for land and mobility – the case of...
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Integration vs. fragmentation: Spatial governance for land and mobility – the case of Luxembourg
Hesse, Markus mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education (FLSHASE) > Identités, Politiques, Sociétés, Espaces (IPSE) >]
Carr, Constance mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education (FLSHASE) > Identités, Politiques, Sociétés, Espaces (IPSE) >]
BIVEC-GIBET Transport Research Days
May 2013
University of Luxembourg
[en] Introduction
We critically explore a set of policies that attempt to control the interplay of spaces (housing) and flows (mobility) through so called integrative approaches. The research looks at processes in the small state of Luxembourg, which has pursued economic na-tional sovereignty by positioning itself in cross national flows as an attractive niche for economic development. In recent years, this has unfolded as the highly successful transition from an industrial based economy to one that rests on financial services and a high degree of internationalization. This development trajectory, however, has cre-ated a set of deeply fragmented growth poles, most notably the office-archipelagos that have emerged across the country. Development was and still is concentrated at preferred locations such as the office town of Kirchberg, the emerging research city (Cité des Sciences) in Esch-Belval, the office islands at the Southern periphery of the Capital City (such as Cloche d’Or), or in Munsbach, a small town just 15 kilometres East of Luxembourg City.
Developments at these poles stand in stark contrast to, and have put pressure on, the rather micro-local oriented infrastructure and built environment seen throughout the rest of the country. In effect, these growth poles have put pressure on the real es-tate market, squeezing out housing due to the profit gap between office, retail and housing rents. Further, they generate massive commuter traffic, the majority of which is still organized around the private automobile. Finally, they also ensure a certain sense of disintegration in terms of urban design.
In response to the dynamics named above, planning officials formulated a set of spatially integrative sustainable development guidelines that postulated sector integra-tion, drawing upon normative orientations (central place theory), and prioritizing in-ternational objectives of European consolidation over local integration. Mobility issues, particularly the flow of people (goods are handled as well, but this is a different story), are a most critical component of this development trajectory. Our research interest is to clarify whether the deliberately “integrated” planning strategies are appropriate in the context of an increasingly fragmented spatial pattern, and the related system of institutional fragmentation that polarizes the two hegemonic levels of governance – the national and municipal.

Conceptual framework
In conceptual terms, our research lends to Stead/Meijers’ (2009) critique of ‘integra-tion’ in spatial regards and also critical review of contemporary planning philosophy by Allmendinger/Haughton (2009). It particularly confronts the good intentions of spatial planning with the ‘hard’ realities of political economic development, which seems to be particularly relevant concerning the case of Luxembourg, with its ex-traordinary success story and business model of providing a safe haven for financial industries and modern services.
“The notion of spatial planning is slippery. This malleability is important in allowing these notions to gain rapid and widespread acceptance, in a process which simul-taneously manages to place them within the policy mainstream and marginalize or co-opt dissenting voices. “ (A&H 2009, 2547) Spatial planning as a win-win project that presents “’planning’ as: (i) having ‘moved on’ from its previous incarnations and all the critical baggage that it had picked up, (ii) seeming to provide a progressive alter-native to the ‘ planning retreat’ of early neoliberal experiments , whist (iii) accommo-dating an adapted Third Way neoliberal agenda.”
Allmendinger and Haughton encapsulated the problem: “advocates of spatial plan-ning share a naivety about the nature of contested spaces and thee role of spatial plan-ning. The assumption is that spatial planning, if undertaken in an open, transparent, and collaborative way will lead to consensus and , ultimately, better development. But experience shows that intractable tensions may be eased through at the level of pro-ducing strategic documents, only for problems to surface at the level of implementa-tion.” Further, “the realpolitik of planning allows the system to be hijacked and abused, not least, by those intent on preserving the status-quo.”

Methodology, research strategy
In our paper, a constructivist approach was practiced, including an extensive docu-ment survey, a series of conversational interviews with experts from various fields of engagement, and participant observation. These materials were then carefully and sys-tematically assessed through the application of qualitative research techniques (tran-scription, coding, and interpretation).
Our empirical data was drawn from the research project SUSTAINLUX that was conducted between 2010 and 2013, and funded by the Fonds National de la Recher-che (FNR), Luxembourg. The general aim of this project was to critically assess the rationale behind and strategies towards achieving a sustainable spatial development in Luxembourg, with a particular emphasis placed on spatial governance and related strategies and practices. Housing and mobility were two fields where we engaged in a more detailed investigation. Before summarizing the research, our major findings were jointly discussed with, and thus fed back to, a selected number of interviewees, in order to situate our interpretations in the wider realm of possible lines of thought. It turned out that, though our findings can be considered being quite critical, this second round of conversation revealed a high degree of consensus among the participants, concerning our attempt to assess and interpret the findings most appropriately.

Major findings - The Integrated Approach doesn’t meet the Mark

Our overall finding was that the steps and measures undertaken by the government towards achieving a sustainable spatial development are indeed effectively flawed, and the concept of integration is part of the problem. Such policies, at least, fail to re-solve the critical situation described above.

Just as Stead and Meijers (2009, 326) can identify five factors – political, institutional, financial, procedural, behavioural – that inhibit integration, our results show that the “centralist”, density- or integration-based approach fails in meeting its mark, primarily for three reasons:
First, an overstated policy of decentralized concentration, which is viewed as being integrative from the state level creates severe spatial imbalances at local levels; as long as office floor space continues to increase (and this indeed represents the current unique selling point of Luxembourg as an ideal business setting and location), decen-tralized concentration deepens the functional and thus spatial mismatch, instead of resolving the issue;
Second, these policies are also limited in terms of their objective to optimize com-muter traffic, since concentration is only targeted at one end of the mobility chain (destination wise), whereas the other ends (the origins of the commuter flows) are lo-cated rather remotely and are quite dispersed. It appears difficult to co-ordinate these flows by traditional transit systems.
This is first evident in the documents. All the maps show only Luxembourg (In-nenministerium et al. 2004; Ministère de l’Intérieur 2003). Indeed there are concep-tions of the Grand Region, (where Luxembourg is placed at the centre). Transport plans and densities are located solely within the nations boundaries. At a meeting of ESPON in November 2011, one panellist suggested subsidizing neighbouring munic-ipalities across the border in Belgium or France. This was met with widespread scep-ticism in the audience. The reaction reflects the unwillingness or inability, which may be grounded on practical rather than political reasons, to transcend national borders.
Third, instead of addressing problems of uncoordinated and conflicting authorities at various spatial scales, the strategies presume a clean system-wide durable “Russian Doll” architecture of how state and municipalities interact and collaborate. Hooghe and Marks (2003; 2004) are often credited with the Russian Doll metaphor of Europe-an governance: General-purpose jurisdictions (Type I) describe governance arrange-ments that include a specified number of governments from the local to the interna-tional, whereby the smaller jurisdictions are contained within wider ones. While their work has been widely questioned (Mahon and Keil, 2009; Brenner et al., 2003; Af-folderbach and Carr in review; Jessop, 2005), the central concept is reflected in Lux-embourg’s spatial planning policies. Reminiscent again of Allmendinger and Haugh-ton (2009), the assumption is that policy can be asserted in an orderly and predictable manner if only the correct actors are gathered at the right time and place.
Spatial Planning policies were largely informed by European strategies and initia-tives. As a member state, Luxembourg was to carry forward with its corresponding commitments. In line with these responsibilities, local politicians formulated the spa-tial arrangement of Luxembourg territories. Further, national ministries were net-worked in order to bring their expertise to the table. The final step was to give the Sector Plans legal backing so that they can be instituted with ease. It is clear that Lux-embourg governing officials understand their political structure as a collection of dis-crete jurisdictional units neatly ordered under a national level. These jurisdictions are further general purpose (not task specific) and are organized across two levels of mu-nicipal and federal government.
The spatial planning guidelines are explicitly integrative. The features of integrative policies defined by Stead and Meijers (2009) can be observed - comprehensiveness, aggregated topically, encompassing. Integrated policies address issues that “transcend the boundaries of established policy fields, and that do not correspond to the institutional responsibilities of individual departments,” (Stead and Meijers, 2009, 321). This is clearly seen as the Sector Plans were created by representatives from a cross-section of national ministries. But it is not only the actors that are cross-governmental. The topics themselves are cross-disciplinary. Some have called this type of policy “holistic” (ibid.) as they try to attempt to address topics of a broader scope than those bound within the frameworks of isolated functional systems.
Ten years after their inception, the Sector Plans still await legal ratification. So long as the Sector Plans are not passed, the national government relies on the so called, Convention Agreements. These are contracts that oblige signing Municipalities to act following a set of agreement requirements (Bentz 2011). Often Municipalities receive said rewards (subsidies, for example) for achieving named goals. Recently, the Convention Agreements have come into play to endorse the three growth poles of the nation: the City of Luxembourg, Esch-sur-Alzette (Sud), and the Nordstad. The Convention Agreement approach has achieved limited success. For this reason, Spatial Planning officials continue to endorse legal ratification of the Sector Plans.
As already noted elsewhere (Carr, forthcoming; Affolderbach and Carr, in review), the lethargy is likely a sign of domestic structural mismatches. “The political structure that characterizes Luxembourg land-use planning today is one that was founded on notions of municipal autonomy, relatively horizontal modes of negotiation, and indi-vidual private property rights where land-owners and local politicians are the gate-keepers to land-use,” (Carr, forthcoming). The nation is divided into 106 Municipali-ties, each of which define land-use and zoning, and the majority of which are sparsely populated such that many know Municipal land-use decision-makers personally. Fur-ther, many local politicians fulfil second function as Chamber Deputies in Parliament. The small state government architecture thus reveals a variety of conflicts of interest, and the distribution of power and decision-making is hotly contested, particularly be-tween the state and the municipalities.
Further impeding a clean system-wide architecture in which spatial planning can be implemented, are respective relations between gatekeepers to land-use and the private sector. High land prices and low land taxes have endorsed speculation. Moreover, the sometimes not very transparent means of land-use designation, created in part as a result of horizontal closely knit governance networks, have led some to wonder if pro-jects that are likely to be realized are those that promise to be lucrative. The result is further “fragmentation through integration.”

Although it has to be acknowledged that Luxembourg represents a rather specific case of an emerging medium-sized, cross-border metropolitan area, there are some lessons to be learned in more general terms. These lessons refer particularly to the long-standing debate on integrative spatial planning and the so-called nexus of ‘driving and the built environment’. Our research confirms the literature that has critically dis-cussed the integration of spaces and flows in more analytical, less normative terms. Integration turns out to be more complex than often suggested, and cannot simply be managed by establishing integrated policy concepts. This is even more so given the complex arrangement of horizontal and vertical modes of governance. Also, it is widely acknowledged that the various elements of urbanisation are characterized by obviously different, often competing or contradictory logics of development. The ways that places and flows interact and conflict with one another, how they are changing over time, and also how they are subject to contested debates, leave enough space for further investigation and claims for developing a more adaptive and flexible, less rigid policy model.

Additions, maybe to be folded into conclusion..?
• Clearly, the goal is clearly to address changing needs that require not only transcending and joining-up otherwise distinct administrative and conceptual boundaries, but also purposefully making the most from the benefits that can be extracted from such synergies. Normatively, integrated policy can address, at least in theory, the need “to overcome artificial organizational boundaries; to tolerate a significant degree of uncertainty and probability in the policy-making process; to interact closely with stakeholders and citizens; and, signif-icantly, to engage in flexible, creative and systemic thinking which is “holistic” rather than linear or partial in character” (Givoni et al. 2013, 2).
• Yet, one wonders if the underlying goals have been addressed in the Luxem-bourgish system. Not only is there a clear lethargy of legalizing the set of inte-grative policies, but it appears that they have not succeeded in overcoming the “isolationist” or “piecemeal” (Givoni et al. 2013, 3) approach characteristic of traditional Luxembourg to land use. In the worst case, integrated planning may have been conceived instead, “from above” to be applied “below” and with force if necessary.
• Is there a way to strategically advance “joined-up government” and “integrat-ed policy” towards effective policy intervention? This question was raised by Givoni et. al (2013).
• Without claiming to have discovered a blue-print for successful policy design, they find that the key lies in a “policy packaging” process that has “deep and holistic appreciation of policy subsystems, together with a structured approach”
• It would seem that these are certainly lacking in the present system of inte-grated planning in Luxembourg.

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