Planning and management of urban greenspace in two Danish municipalities.
Identification of ecological potentials

Note : Illustrations to be added 

 

Introduction

The present study was undertaken in the municipalities of Köge and Ballerup, which are located in the metropolitan region of Copenhagen, Denmark. The urban planning policies relating to green spaces, rainwater and waste disposal as well as more general environmental questions were studied in both municipalities and in addition two planning districts were given special attention in order to serve as more detailed case studies.

 

Results from studying the planning process

There has been a definite change in the contents of Danish municipal plans since the enactment of the new planning laws in the 1970s. Today the formulation of goals constitutes the largest part of both plans and the planning process. The "new" plans may thus be seen more as vehicles for a discussion with citizens, citizen groups and other stakeholders instead of as traditional land-use plans. The focus of the plans has also moved from growth to renewal and maintenance.

The urban environment is created through the location of urban elements in relation to one another thus forming a physical structure. In the traditional plans functions were separated relatively strictly but now they are increasingly integrated.

At the end of the 1980s ecological thinking was introduced in the debates about urban planning in Denmark. The publication and widepread distribution of the Brundtland report with its notion of sustainable development was in part responsible for this.

While municipal plans, after the implementation of the new legal instruments in municipal planning in 1975, had their main focus on land use, plans in the 1990s were supposed to reflect flexibility and cross-sectorial solutions and as such were supposed to be environmentally sustainable.

Citizen participation is given a new importance through Agenda 21. This stresses that only through local involvement and changes in attitudes and actions will there be real possibilities to make the fundamental shift towards sustainable development.

In practice, deficiencies in the legislation for greenspace play a role in the sometimes casual treatment of the issues involved by the municipal administration. Neither in the planning legislation nor in the building regulations are there any requirements for the provision of green spaces (such as parks) for whole city districts. Nor are there any quality requirements. The requirements for provision of green spaces all relate to building plots in medium or high density housing areas.

 

In each case study municipality a separate planning district with housing of different types was selected for study.

In Köge the district Klemmenstrupgaard in Hastrup Vest was selected and in Ballerup the Egebjerggaard area. The later was chosen as it was a newly planned area containing various experiments in architecture, town planning, social and ecological housing as well as in building methods.

Köge
Landscape analysis and norms for green spaces were the basis for Klemmenstrupgaard's local plan in 1983. The green spaces also functioned as a structural element. The relief and the planting were the most important parameters in the formation of the landscape. A permanent artificial lake was established in the common green space. It originally functioned as a rainwater reservoir.

The directives in the local plan for the green spaces located around the dwellings influence the terrain, the fences and plantings etc. The planning department of the municipality was very restrictive in its administration of these directives and still today has a quite traditional approach to landscape planning, which stresses aesthetic and recreational aspects.

In the local plans elaborated after 1991 the possibility of arranging recycling of waste was introduced. However, no further provisions for the promotion of ecological initiatives in the district have been introduced.

Ballerup
The municipality of Ballerup initiated an ambitious experiment in local planning and housing development with a competition for the Egebjerggaard area in 1985. The local plan for the area was endorsed by the city council in 1987.

In the successful project landscape analysis was apparently not used, but by the third phase of the construction a consideration of ecological aims and organizational means was introduced.

Comparison between the approaches taken in Köge and Ballerup
The course of the planning was different in the two municipalities. In Köge Klemmenstrupgaard was planned in a traditional way. Existing rules and values were followed and readily available methods used.

Ballerup tried new ways of planning through a socially oriented experiment with supplementary financial support and among other things the use of artists as consultants and a formal competition among architects.

However, the approach to the planning of green spaces in both cases turned out to have been closer to being conventional than innovative. The needs for outdoor recreation of the citizens were recognised through the creation of small gardens and playgrounds. Issues related to the existing ecological potentials were never fully considered in either case. Resource economies and biodiversity were treated in a single case in Egebjerggaard but were again abandoned by the fourth phase of the construction period.

The philosophy of ecological cycles does not seem to have taken hold in the planners and other decision makers minds in either municipality during the early 1990s.

 

Ecological thinking in the municipal administration

On the sectorial level resource management (e.g. for refuse and rainwater) was seen as an important topic for consideration. However, solutions to problems did not as a rule take cross sectorial considerations into account.

In the municipality of Ballerup the Building Inspectorate worked traditionally to fulfil its function of legal control which seems to have worked against the intention to encourage innovative solutions. Another reason for this has, however, been attributed to the fact that the ideas and intentions behind the new Egebjerggaard district were not communicated to the Inspectorates from the start. One could also detect a certain inertia: existing routines were always followed unless changes were introduced from above.

In the municipality of Köge the Building Inspectorate in one of the later phases also put limitations on the application of ecological ideas - ideas proposed by a social housing association. Well known and safe solutions were in general preferred by the administration.

We may, therefore, conclude that in both municipalities green spaces were mainly taken care of in definite projects and campaigns. They were not really treated as an ecological resource in the planning process. In the projects themselves co-ordination with other municipal sectors and with external actors is of essence very important in maximising the ecological potential of any area of land. However, such co-ordination appears rarely if ever to have been achieved.

 

Citizen participation

After the planning and realization phase the local inhabitants did become interested in ecological issues but there was a great variation in their commitment.

In a sub-district of Egebjerggaard in Ballerup responses to questionnaires show that most inhabitants were interested in sorting their waste at the source i.e. in the kitchen as well as in the recycling of rainwater for different purposes such as watering the gardens, car wash and use in toilets. But it proved more difficult to transform these attitudes into action than expected.

In Hastrup Vest in Köge questionnaires directed at the inhabitants were not returned, however, a representative for a social housing association, who investigated the reason for this, was certain that its local members approved the prohibition of the use of pesticides in the green spaces administered by the association. Sorting waste at the source, composting and organising reuse was found to take place at local "environment stations" with full participation of the inhabitants. According to the municipality's environment department about 80 per cent of people living in multi-storey buildings participated in these actions.

Both Köge and Ballerup have tried to involve their citizens through campaigns.

In Köge a specific campaign for a better environment involving the citizens directly in sustainable activities was abolished by the city council. The council did not believe in the campaign's effectivenes in terms of long-term impact on behaviour. Instead the municipality decided to encourage participation through working with Local Agenda 21. Citizens are supposed to play an important role this initiative through their involvement in developing ideas and initiating "actions". Initiatives for change are under Local Agenda 21 expected to be "bottom up" and not "top down". It proved difficult, though, to maintain motivation and engagement among the participants, not least on account of their lack of experience with co-operation in autonomous groups.

In Ballerup the results of a community-wide project concerned with making the municipality "greener" was somewhat more positive due to the participation of some seriously engaged individuals. Also the participation in the ecological projects in the above mentioned sub-district at Egebjerggaard could be considered a promising beginning for this municipality.

As has been shown in much research into community based initiatives in order to succeed voluntary projects need deeply committed individuals to be members of the (formal or informal) groups that take part. Furthermore it is an advantage to have the participation of local sections of national environmental associations such as the National Society for the Preservation of Nature. These associations usually have policy and scientific knowledge in relation to ecological problems far beyond the knowledge of the normal citizen. Citizens also have a better opportunity to express their wishes and points of view to the local (and national) political system through these associations than when they act as single persons. The associations may thus be of great help in the local discussion. On the other hand there is a (mostly small) danger of sectarianism involved, if the association exaggerates its position in order to get its messages across to a large public.

 

Conclusion

Ecological ideas and policies related to natural resources and biodiversity proved, in the cases investigated, to have had limited impact on local decision making.The only exception to this was in relation to waste disposal where there was evidence that policies covered the entire municipality in particular for sorting the waste. Otherwise the philosophy of recycling seemed not yet to have taken hold and there was no evidence that its link to in greenspace planning and management was understood.

A further paper dealing with similar issues and particularly - organic waste, surface runoff, biodiversity and the role that can be played by the urban green structure in the sustainable management of these is being published elsewhere. Contact the authors for further information. Jensen M.B., Persson B., Guldager S., Reeh U. and Nilson K., 2000, "Approaching sustainable management strategies with local authorities - introducing a tool to support local authorities"

References

1. Attwell, Karen: De grønne strukturer og den grønne maalestok - Om kvantitet og kvalitet.

2. Christiansen, Ulf: Offentlighed og medbestemmelse i Köges grønne planlaegning efter 1980.

3. Guldager, Susanne: Landskabets inddragelse i planlaegning af "det grønne ". Lovgivning og planlÊgningseksempler.

Ref. 1,2 and 3 were published in "Ressourcehusholdning i kommunernes planlaegning og forvaltning af friarealer", Forskningscenter for Skov og Landskab, Horsholm 1997. ISBN 87-89822-77-3

4. Planlaegning og politik for Köges friarealer, SBI, Afd. for Byer og Boliger/FSL, Afd. for Park og Landskab, Horsholm April 1999.

5. Guldager, S., Ulrik Reeh, Bengt Persson, Karen Attwell & Christine Nuppenau; Grøn struktur i byokologisk perspektiv - proces og metoder i EgebjerggÂrd og i Skotteparken. Forskningscenter for Skov og Landskab, Horsholm 1998.

Planning and management of urban greenspace - identification of ecological potentials

U. Christiansen, Danish Building Research Institute, S. Guldager and C. Nuppenau, The Danish Forest and Landscape Research Institute

 

Introduction

Results

Selecting districts

Ecological thinking

participation

Conclusions

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Communication in
Urban Planning

Göteborg Conference Papers - Oct 1999
 

Workshops for Environmental Innovations (Eijk et al)

Communication and Urban Green (Lindholm)

Integrating Biodiversity (Gyllin)

User participation in Public Park Administration (Delshammer)

Making Outdoor Places for Children (Kylin)

The Home Street (Staffans)

Identification of ecological potentials (Guldager et al)

Evaluation and Dialogue (Sager)

A Communicative Planning Methodology (Stromberg)

Rationality Revisited (Lapintie)

Planning deconstructed and rebuilt as discourse analyses
(Orrskog)

 

"Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent"
(Birgersson)
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Selecting districts

Ecological thinking

participation

Conclusions

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Introduction

Results

Selecting districts

Ecological thinking

participation

Conclusions

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Introduction

Results

Selecting districts

Ecological thinking

participation

Conclusions

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European Research Network - Urban density and Green Structure

Proceedings of the Gothenburg Conference:
Communication in Urban Planning - Oct 1999

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