minute read

Alankrita Sarkar, Malavika Krishnan and Vera Loefs - 09 mei 2022

The New planning is a ‘movement’ that re-thinks planning as a profession. It is a dialogue with experts and enthusiasts to challenge the conventional methods of planning systems and questioning our preparedness for climate urgencies and transitions.

The New Planning Manifesto

— A call for action

The New Planning is a stimulus to operate better planning methods, learning new ways of working, while carrying forward the positive aspects from traditional planning methods. This manifesto presents the notion of ‘planning as a process rather than a product’ and introduces the relevant factors which are affecting or effecting the process of decision-making and long-term thinking. In a ten-pointer format, the results from the eight New Planning Dialogues are being presented that elaborates ‘the need for a new model of planning. This manifesto should be read as a direction that can lead to further detailed debates and discussions in the planning and policies sector in search of innovative solutions together with the professionals and a wider range of audience. It should be interpreted as a conversation starter to get the ball rolling rather than a step-by-step action plan that dictates what to be done. By means of this manifesto, we invite new consortia members and stakeholders from all European countries to join us for The New Planning Second Edition.


The New Planning Manifesto illustrates the results and lessons learned from ‘The New Planning Dialogue’ carried out as a co-creative and collaborative series of dialogues for over two years from 2019 to 2020.  

The global COVID-19 pandemic occurred simultaneously and largely shaped the dialogue, questioning how to react to and prepare for unexpected events in the planning process. From 2015 onwards several new agendas were presented, the Paris Agreement, New Urban Agenda, European Green Deal and the New European Bauhaus, acting as guidelines and initiatives towards a sustainable European future. The global agendas initiated the need for planners to come together and start a dialogue on how to realize these ambitions. Now with the emergency that IPCC report creates in the society and the kind off responsibility handed to our profession is evident for us to make edits in our conventional methods and be flexible as we move into transition. With this manifesto Manifesto
A document publicly declaring the position or program of its issuer. A manifesto advances a set of ideas, opinions, or views, but it can also lay out a plan of action (Britannica, 2022)
, we encourage spatial planning to step up its role and responsibilities in tackling global challenges by showing variety of examples, good or bad. We actively encourage planning and design experts to bring a fundamental change in the practice of spatial planning. By forming new collaborations and working methods among planners and design experts, as well as, by working together with a wide variety of people from different fields.

Bridging the gaps of research and practice ‘The New Planning Dialogue’, centred around the discourse on informal planning Informal planning
A non-binding supplement to official planning instruments that often increase public consensus, this includes the principles of collaborative dialogue, diverse networks, trustful relationships and tailor-made processes among interested parties (Theodora Papamichail & Ana Peric, ISOCARP 2019)
methods challenged the status quo, towards a paradigm shift in the perception and practice of spatial planning from a product to a democratic and integrated process. The New planning is not just about using another (a new) toolkit or structure of planning, but rather itis about bringing change in the culture of planning and the planning community. This change in perception remains the most important element. It is essential to address the dilemmas in society and understand the mechanisms behind different complex environments, often containing interrelated aspects.

The New Planning as a method was the ‘new’ factor in the planning procedures in the Netherlands and in Europe. While enhancing on the new working ways of dialogue as a to get the relevant stakeholders on a table and as a research methodology, a lot of dilemmas were discussed and argued upon. In the momentum of searching for the ‘new’ in the New Planning, we sought out for innovative and inspirational solutions in variety of scale. Some arguments that questioned the current planning system were, the essence of digitalisation as an innovative driver towards societal development; planning as social contract between people, government, companies creating a way to deal with climate urgencies; searching for change in the normative goals and challenges; creating a new balance in democracy and ownership of space and cities; redefining “good life” for society amongst the global challenges; coping with scales of time, space and magnitude. 

The manifesto as a method of achieving definition and a monumental and fundamental movement.  This manifesto is for all the stakeholders of a sustainable society. It is a call for action for the planners and designers (but not limited) to come together and co-own the problems, co-create the solutions and collaborate. Hereby, Deltametropolis Association presents the following 10 points as a foundation for re-thinking planning as a profession, developed in collaboration with planning and design professionals for The New Planning Movement. 

Diagram 0

Type of stakeholders included/ should be included in the New Planning Movement.


A realistic planning

Desire vs Capacity

“There is a necessity for a better understanding of the differences between ambitions and expectations within the planning process”
John Worthington (London) in Dialogue 4

The fundamental step towards the rethinking of planning is to analyze realistically the societal desires and the practicable capacities (see diagram 1). The ‘new planning’ should be able to clarify and simplify, what we should expect realistically – considering the uncertainties – , what people want and what is necessary to fulfill these wants.

The ‘new planning’ urges to (i) encompass and devise innovative scenarios (ii) establishing the desires and enhancing experimentation whilst (iii) acknowledging resources towards a realistic future. Designing iterative processes (Be Sustainable Brussels, 2019) and combining global challenges instead of addressing them independently (NOVI, 2020) will allow for policy makers and planners to remain realistic about the desires and capacity. New planning is a mindset to approach planning considering societal, environmental, political and economic uncertainties. This promotes a transparent process that society can believe and act on. The global and urban challenges provide no liberty for unrealistic plans and false hopes. This manifesto reinforces analyzing all feasibilities and uncertainties as the key to effective planning process and action-oriented planning.

“Spatial planning is a weak policy: there is a gap between ambition and means and there are many restrictions from other policies. We have to overcome our idea of a linear planning process with a given ambition.”
Agnes Förster (RWTH Aachen) in Dialogue 3

Diagram 1

Planners focus on what is desired and push the boundary to make it probable


Shared sense of urgency

Integrating perspectives

“City planning is not an objective or scientific process but rather about participation, inclusion and bringing together different stakeholders”
Erik Pasveer (City of Amsterdam) in Dialogue 5

The urgencies that we have been discussing the past few years in development are not something new to anyone, professionally or personally. What needs to be addressed is the lack of shared sense of working towards that urgency. The New Planning Manifesto creates a shared sense of urgency to innovate new methods and ideas, not only between the government, planning and design, but also with a larger audience.

There is a ‘shared urgency’ on the issue(s) at stake among the principal actors and decision makers. The urgent need is to change the framework of planning and prepare a distinct working method by bringing in capacities of a variety of stakeholders. This urgency is not about generating panic in society or an anxious environment, rather establishing an inspired and spirited engaged society. This creates societal awareness, addressing the gaps and directed towards a better division of roles and responsibilities. As planners and designers, our role remains to connect the people, scales from local to regional to national, and different agendas. There remains a gap in planning when it comes to sectoral integration. Often, agendas and actions from various sectors to tackle the same or similar global challenges, clash due to a lack of integrated thinking. ‘The whole is not just a sum of separate parts’. Similarly, spatial planning needs to be creating the appropriate connections from and between distinctive perspectives, and different groups in order to address shared urgencies Shared urgencies
When different parties have the same priorities or ‘a common understanding regarding actions to take’ about pertinent issues facing them
(see diagram 2). This can be achieved by devising agendas in collaboration with multiple municipalities and citizens (Het Hart van Holland, 2017) or by organizing events where interaction is created with a broad public about specific topics (Rising Waters, 2018).

“Planning comes into force when we need to innovate”
Lawrence Barth (UK) in Dialogue 3

Diagram 2

Cooperation across sectors to address shared urgencies and build solutions together


A common language

People vs Professionals

“We often think in terms of conflict. But people start to realise how they can assist and can inspire each other”
Ruth Hoppner (Veld Academie) in Dialogue 7

The Manifesto highlights the importance for a common language to allow visionary thinking to be translated into everyday solutions that are understandable for everyone to be able to inspire each other and empower people to act together, a common language needs to be established. For example, by translating an action plan into an exhibition (LEAP IABR-Atelier, 2019) or by developing a serious game in which people from outside of the planning profession can explore the planning process and share new ideas (Prospect-Us, 2018). This requires (i) transparency of processes Transparency of processes
A process is said to be transparent when it can be checked by anyone who is interested
– the decision-making process has to be made transparent to the public. This creates better understanding of why some processes can take longer to realize, where the roadblocks are and how to solve them in an inclusive manner; (ii) empowering society through knowledge transfer and bottom-up initiatives Bottom-up initiatives
The process where people from lower hierarchies in a system initiate certain broader systemic changes (Navarro, Woods, and Cejudo, 2015)
, this will allow varied voices to be heard; (iii) planning should be able to create a shared sense of responsibility for all the stakeholders, especially the main stakeholders – people. By becoming part of the planning process this shared sense of responsibility will increase.

We envision this process across scales and actors, communicating through various means, some direct, some indirect, and actively being in continuous conversation in order to create a more transparent and democratic planning Democratic planning
Is a term which has its roots in the socialist political arena and in this context means that hierarchical (income, wealth and class) differences of people are diminished to create an equal playing field when it comes to decision making (Roos, 1974)
system (see diagram 3). This would bring in equal importance to opinions from all stakeholders and interested parties, and lead to constant feedback loops and flexibility.

“There is an urge for diversity in planning. Planning should provide assistance and support to communities”
Annet Kempenaar (University of Groningen) in Dialogue 7

Diagram 3

Establishing a common language across scales and among different actors


Repositioning the planner

Role vs Skills

“One of the key qualities of planners of 21st CE is to bring together a key set of skills and implement them simultaneously”
Daniel Galland (NMBU) in  Dialogue 3

What are the changing roles of the planner and what kind of skills and tools are required for the 21st CE planner? These questions symbolize the need to reposition the urban planner as a citizen. Planning as a profession needs to be more inclusive and make room for more bottom-up initiatives, there is a need to re-position the planner to be a facilitator and enabler for change rather than a solution provider. New skills, tools, and expertise are required which has to be supported through new training and societal engagement. The ‘Training Integral Strategy Planning Within Urban Development’ by Veldacademie & IHS (2020) closely connects to repositioning the urban planner as citizen, by looking at interactions between urban planning and social development.

The planner thus, takes on and wears different hats as needed based on the situations that range from conventional to a more radical and unconventional roles, supported by both traditional and non-traditional skills (see diagram 4). There is a need for the current education system to equip future planners and urban scholars with capacity building skills for the future, as well as, changing their focus from vision making to implementing change.

“Planning skills and capacities should be made available for all. It should be shared as a quality with much bigger societal player”
Paul Gerretsen (Deltametropolis Association) in Dialogue 7

Diagram 4

Being versatile is crucial to reposition the planner


Experimental planning

Linear to continual decision making

“We have to overcome our idea of a linear planning Linear planning
Working from goal to goal and only move on when all previous goals are reached (Simmons, 2001)
process with a given ambition”
Agnes Förster (RWTH Aachen) in Dialogue 3

The New Planning takes the unpredictability of the future into account. Scenarios, both normative and trend, play a constructive role in the new planning. It values adaptability and flexibility during the process of decision making. This also persuades the urban planner and designer to use their specific skill-set to stimulate the process of continual decision-making, developing a wide variety of scenarios (see diagram 5). These scenarios can focus on sustainable futures for spatial development (Land of Hope, 2020) to new flexible management methods (IABR Atelier Brabantstad, 2014). Continuous decision-making will help planners and government to be more prepared for unexpected events in the future, and be able to adapt more quickly.

“In many ways adopting an informal way of problem solving could prove to be the solution to many of our today’s complex challenges”
Cecilia Braun (SURE Eurodelta) in Dialogue 8

COVID-19 is a good example of why flexible planning is necessary. The pandemic is an unanticipated event which calls for adaptability, scenario based planning could have aided in a quick and efficient response.

Planning with the one final solution approach is no longer suitable for the 21st CE. The New Planning is a continual, evaluative, enhancing and improvising process towards a better living environment. As mentioned by the Director of NOVI, Emiel Reiding in Dialogue 3, “NOVI is not just a document but a process. We always need new answers, and we can always learn from each other”.

“We need to do better things instead of doing things better”
Jannemarie de Jong (Wing) in Dialogue 7

Diagram 5

Flexible scenario-based planning takes unpredictability into account


Taking back control together

Promoting shared ownership

“Knowing does not lead to acting, design does”
Terry van Dijk (University of Groningen)
in Dialogue 6

The New Planning is ‘Actor oriented’ Actor oriented
Identification of actors – individuals, collectives and non-human resources – who are directly or indirectly connected to a certain planning objective, the process relies on involving and activating those actors (Hebinck, den Ouden, and Verschoor, n.d.)
, aiming at coalition building and shared ownership. Therefore, it has a keen eye for people and informal or institutional organizations with specific ‘interests’ that could inform, enrich and eventually support the goals set out by The New Planning, as well as, connecting to parties who are able to contribute financially (investors). It seeks to involve people, is inclusive in its approach, and takes into account various perspectives and interests, as is done in the Helsinki Energy Challenge (2020), by encouraging people globally from different backgrounds to participate. This approach should bring back a sense of control within society, not exclusively to the government but to all the actors: “we take back control together”.

Planning is no longer only in the hands of the planner. It is about creating a community that is accountable in its actions and measures as we move towards a more value based and empathetic approach to achieve sustainable development. “The next big thing will be a lot of small things” – Joachim Declerck in Dialogue 3 (Director, Architecture Workroom Brussels)

The importance of participatory planning by forming local coalitions and creating ownership amongst citizens in energy transition, and other challenges is becoming more and more efficient rather than centralized policies. Does this mean the role of national planning is diminishing? On the contrary, it means that national planning needs to take into account an important aspect of bringing together the different scales, to create a crucial ‘centralized decentralization’ Centralized decentralization
The process where a top-down decision is made to delegate decision power to all levels of hierarchy in an organization (Management Study Guide, 2022)
. This will improve exchange of knowledge on new levels, enhance innovation and create a sense of trust within society. With the power of technology and social media, there is more awareness and reach direct to the citizens (see diagram 6). Thus, planning processes are no longer hidden behind a curtain but are more accessible and adaptable based on public opinion. Citizens are becoming part of the process, for instance by jointly with the government determining the locations and measures for projects (Room for the River, 2006).

“Planning should instead focus on practices of dissent Practices of dissent
The practice that people publish or express opinions that are non-conformant to the dominant doctrine (Stack, 1996; Pokharel, Milz, and Gervich, 2022)
, capture radical imaginaries and institutionalize them. That rather than calling our incompetency as resilience, we should dare to fail, and fail better”
Maria Kaika (University of Amsterdam) in Dialogue 7

Diagram 6

Moving from a centralized to decentralized approach facilitates participatory planning


Planning as an intermediary

Planning vs Politics vs Society

“It is difficult to implement values into policy. Aesthetics are not measurable”
Flip ten Cate (Federation of Spatial Quality) in Dialogue 6

Who is the decision maker and who is the implementer? Who has or should have the most power?

Planning is a deeply political process that can influence and spearhead societal change. However, the current planning system is more complacent and often times in sync with policy makers rather than aiming for more radical changes. This complacency has resulted in a comfortable limbo that supports the status quo. We need to think long term and have a vision that realizes the ambitions and targets that we must achieve, in the face of current global challenges and societal desires. We need to reset our training. Planning should instead focus on practices of contention, capture radical imaginaries and institutionalize them, rather than calling our incompetency’s as resilience. The planner and policy maker are at different ends of the same table, representing two sides; innovation and diplomacy. Somewhere in the middle where the innovation meet diplomacy, is where realistic actions can take place (see diagram 7).

“There is a schizophrenia when it comes to realizing the targets. Everybody is aware of the goals but there are too many reasons why it can’t happen. Planner need to take action”
Ellen van Bueren (TU Delft) in Dialogue 7

Diagram 7

Innovation and diplomacy can result in realistic action


Translating visions to actions

Strategic vs Systemic vs Operational

“Don’t blame the national government: NOVI draws too much upon system responsibility, leaving real responsibility to local and regional governance. The multitude of principles is worrying in terms of execution and accountability”
Hans Leinfelder (KU Leuven) in Dialogue 3

There is a gap in the strategic and design vision versus the operationalization of these visions. Often, the main challenge that policy makers face is related to the limited time they get dedicated for translating visions to concrete actions. This is a result of the complexity of the task of translating the goals into transferable spatial measures at the local scale. Hence, it is important to integrate scales and sectors, and look for connections that can effectively translate national goals and agendas to transferable actions at a municipal level, which as a result will be implementable in shorter time frames. There is an existing gap between the controls imposed by traditional planning methods versus the new technology driven citizen initiatives. Design and planning can form a successful part in bridging the gap between research, policy and actions (see diagram 8).

To conclude, The New Planning discussions brought out several interesting points, it is not possible to measure all values, however, monitoring of how they are used is an important step towards effective implementation. There is also an inherent bias dictated by companies as to what values or agreements to follow, and it is important as designers and planners that we try to look beyond such aspects.

Diagram 8

Value based planning improves translating visions into concrete actions.


Joining hands and tying scales

Enhancing cross-border cooperation

“How can we go from intentions or beautiful words to the facts on the ground? That Passage Al’acte is really a challenge. The whole delta needs to work together”
Joachim Declerck (Architecture Workroom Brussels) in Dialogue 3

The dialogue, ‘Take on the future’ showed the importance of acknowledging these parallels and how we need to work towards bridging this gap at various stages and across different scales. It is therefore important to look for a pan European developmental narrative when it comes to tackling transnational problems such as climate adaptation and energy transition, by investigating high-speed rail networks in European mega-regions for example (Go Europe Go Rail, 2020). With globalization and more ambiguity in borders and soft borders in the movement of goods and people, it might be interesting to extent cooperation and learning when it comes to spatial planning in Europe (see diagram 9). This could provide an opportunity to look at a new social model, a collection of common and social values governing a new kind of planning paradigm Planning paradigm
A framework containing the basic assumptions, ways of thinking, and methodology that are commonly accepted within the spatial planning community (Dictionary, 2022)
in the national planning processes within Europe, developed through cross-border knowledge networks such as SURE (2018) and STRING (1999).

“What we’ve done in NOVI until now is optimization within sectors. This is not working anymore for intertwined problems. What we should do from now on is finding an intertwined approach, find intertwined solutions and an intertwined financing.”
Emiel Reiding (Director NOVI) in Dialogue 3

“New regional planning and design is NOT about fitting regional governments into a state structure but about using and designing a flexible, multi-scale and multi-actor governance”
Ries van der Wouden (PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency) in Dialogue 3

Diagram 9

Cross-border cooperation and knowledge exchange enhances planning initiatives for global challenges


Paradigm shift in planning

Product vs Process

“What we do is already risky, we are in a disaster, so why not experiment a bit more freely?”
Maria Kaika (University of Amsterdam in Dialogue 7

COVID-19 and planning with urgencies has brought about a new planning methodology. As mentioned by Nico Larco, Urbanism Next – University of Oregon, now is the time to act, evaluate and restart. Rather than focusing on long term planning, we should spotlight accelerated actions that will trigger changes, centralizing the process. Planning for the now can coexist with planning for the future by approaching the next as the now (Next City, 2018).

“This leads to a very little room for mistakes and as a result the policies will address more short-term solutions that can bring benefits right away.”
Martina Huijsmans (City of Delft) in Dialogue 6

From product to process: Planning today is undergoing the paradigm shift from an end product to a process. The New planning paradigm thus moves away from vision making to planning as an ever-changing, dynamic and temporal process (see diagram 10). Experimenting with local initiatives can stimulate this dynamic process, enhancing cooperation between the management of public space with education and research (Kopgroep Stedelijk Beheer Delta Atelier, 2019).

The discussion and dialogues generated from the ‘Take on the future- Critically Reflecting on Planning Visions’ conference offers a partial blueprint for the NOVI and the New Planning agenda as it establishes itself as guide for the planning profession in the Netherlands. Moving away from the idea of product oriented to a process-oriented Process-oriented
A management principle where the focus lies on long-term results rather than quick wins. It is a relatively flexible system where decisions are made ‘on the go’ with the long-term goals in mind to find the best course of action. (Business Process Incubator, 2022)
approach, it also stresses the need to enhance participation in implementation.

“Planning is not about efficiency, but about effectiveness.”
Jannemarie de Jonge (Wing) in Dialogue 7

Diagram 10

Process-oriented planning stimulates experimentation and effective decision making


To conclude, the manifesto puts forward the need for new planning and the necessary changes that is required presently in the planning regime. It is not about providing the right solutions, but rather to ask the right questions, that can later on initiate actions and concrete plans.  

These 10 pointers don’t put forward all the solutions for all the contexts and scales of planning, but asks the right questions which are required to be considered to change the fundaments of conventional planning methods. To answer to the transitions and urgencies, we need to ask questions like; how can planning become a continuous democratic and integrated process? How can this process work efficiently? What are the external and internal factors and actors that are required? What instruments and skills do we need and how can we acquire them? 

The New Planning Manifesto is a result of a co-creative process of learning by doing, which we hope to translate into a way of working that planning professionals can adapt. Rather than aiming for unrealistic and sudden changes, it is about creating an awareness and acceptance to start the process of such a change. We hope this manifesto becomes a starting point for discussions towards a change in mindset to address pressing challenges that are globally applicable. Rather than a top-down approach of providing solutions, or ‘what to do’, we hope to think together with you, through establishing a community of practice. The manifesto does not imply any set way of planning but points towards a direction to take and the challenges that planning faces. However, the manifesto is largely from a European perspective, not necessarily with a strong participation from all the European countries. The dialogues carry out discussed European agendas and goals. Even though the context is related to the European planning regime (not all), nonetheless the themes addressed and the urgencies we face are universal.  Thus, the New Planning manifesto is a call for action and not an action plan. With this manifesto, we call upon planning professionals and enthusiasts to come together to embark on a path towards a new way of thinking, a new way of planning. Together as The New Planning Community, we can bring together these changes to make new planning a reality.  

We invite you to join the next phase of The New Planning to become a stronger community, a powerful movement and a more inclusive program. Join us as a representative of your city, region or country and make your challenges more visible to a bigger audience, in search of some inspirational directions.



It's time for a planning paradigm shift (and you can be part of it)

The New Planning Dialogue

The New Planning Dialogue

Internationaal The New Planning Dialogue aims to stimulate a change in the practice of spatial planning to ensure a more sustainable and inclusive development. It uses the format of dialogue and discussions to push the paradigm shift in the practice of spatial planning that we believe is more necessary than ever. This collaborative, co-creative research project aims to create a new framework for planning that stands up to challenges of the 21st century. Lees verder

Results from The New Planning Dialogue

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What did we learn?

Internationaal ‘The New Planning is a movement in our profession’, quoted as a concluding remark by Tracy Metz, during the International Conference, ‘Take on the Future’ (December 2019), best summarizes the project so far. Here we share with you our progress in 'The New Planning Movement' of the recent activities and the process of further development of the project. Lees verder

Eurodelta Knowledge Platform

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Internationaal Over the course of the last three years, the Next Generation Podium (NGP) has gained valuable insights and experience in working across three scales of actions (city/metropolitan region, national, Eurodelta), understanding three stepped decision-making process (design, upscale, impact) providing three types of outputs (vision, strategy, action plan). However, this journey has also revealed several research gaps in cross-border spatial planning and design. Lees verder

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