Spatial planning and develoment

The difficult coordination of planning systems

Approaching urban planning within a cross-border territory consists of confronting different systems of land-use management (planning, zoning, construction permits and conduct of operations) on either side of the border. Each state has developed its own body of law and practice in urban planning that leaves room for manoeuvre to a greater or lesser extent for the different regional and local authorities to manage and organise the development of their territories. Additionally, most of the players involved in cross-border cooperation do not possess detailed knowledge of the different institutional and administrative modes of organisation at work among their neighbours on the other side of the border.

While a common urban planning document in the regulatory sense cannot be envisaged, the main challenge lies in the search for coordination between the policies implemented on either side of the border. In terms of regulatory urban planning, this coordination can begin with cross-border strategic planning initiatives (charter, white paper, strategy) defining the common thematic guidelines, that each authority commits to transposing into its own planning documents. The coordination process can also be led by shared cross-border bodies (EGTC, LGCC, etc.) that help to define the common concepts and principles.

Territorial planning results from the cooperation between a multitude of players, including the mayors and civil servants of the local authorities, architects, urban planners and project developers. The dynamics between these players and their relative importance can be very different from one side of the border to the other. Cross-border spatial planning needs to be founded on the respect of each entity’s specificities, while taking account of the global analysis of the character of the territory.

  • Cross-border planning schemes (schéma de coopération transfrontalière, SCT)

The cross-border planning scheme (SCT) provided for in the MAPTAM Act [FR] is a planning document for the border metropolitan areas of Nice, Lille and Strasbourg. It has no legal effect on the other side of the border and cannot be invoked against foreign territorial authorities. This prospective planning document enables the definition of the main cooperation priorities, the identification of potential cooperation projects, and of the available operational and financial tools, and the definition of the role of the EGTCs in the implementation of each scheme. The content of the SCT may focus on the cross-border implementation of competences for which the metropolitan area is designated as lead partner:
- sustainable mobility,
- organisation of local public services,
- spatial planning,
- and local development.
Although this document cannot be invoked on the other side of the border, it is the first French planning document to focus primarily on cross-border matters.
The MOT is contributing to the production of the SCTs in the three border metropolitan areas (Lille, Strasbourg, Nice).
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