This book project highlights creative approaches to planning and local development. The dynamic complexity, diversity and fluidity which characterize contemporary society represent challenges for planning and development endeavours. While research and policy work has extensively focused on large cities and on metropolitan regions, there has been relatively little work on ‘smaller places’.

This book shows that if these new challenges affect all places and regions, small and medium-sized towns (SMSTs) are suffering many specific problems that call imperatively for the design and implementation of very imaginative, creative approaches to planning and local development. What could enhance creativity in local development and planning? Is it possible to talk about creative capacity building at the level of a town that might release imaginative and innovative activities? Under what local and non-local conditions is creativity being initiated and flourishing? What are the major obstacles and in what way can these be contained in order to safeguard pockets of creative action?

Interdisciplinary and with case studies from France, Norway and other European countries, this volume presents a wide range of approaches and territorial contexts of small cities and towns in which spatial dynamics and the consequences of the city-region for urban planning theory and practice in Europe are highlighted, with a special focus on the challenges for - and understanding of - planning and development of SMSTs. It provides a significant body of critical, comparative and contextual perspectives on the quest for urban sustainability and resilience in SMSTs, therefore emphasizing collaborative and potentially innovative approaches that can be detected, but also the shortcomings, pitfalls and 'traps' that can lie behind the approaches aimed at concerting ecological, economic, and socio-cultural concerns, and the discourses promoting them.

part 1|68 pages

Approaches to planning and local development

chapter 2|14 pages

Small and medium-sized towns

A research topic at the margins of urban studies?

chapter 3|25 pages

‘Ordinary politics of planning' for socio-economic development

Insights from European small and medium-sized towns

chapter 4|18 pages

Governing place reinvention

The quest for an integrative approach

part 2|91 pages

Can place transformation be planned? Challenges to creative planning in small and medium-sized towns

chapter 5|16 pages

Cultural industries as a base for local development

The challenges of planning for the unknown

chapter 6|17 pages

Innovative actions for local development in small and medium-sized towns

The case of the Centre-Val de Loire region in France

chapter 8|21 pages

Potential and obstacles to creative planning in a crisis context

The case of the city of Patras in western Greece

chapter 9|16 pages

Territory vs. function

Ambitions and tensions in the creation of a new urban neighbourhood

part 3|86 pages

Social innovation, participatory governance and collective learning as levers of creative planning

chapter 12|26 pages

Renewed sustainable planning in the Arctic

A reflective, critical and committed approach

chapter 14|9 pages


Pathways towards a critical and comparative approach to creative planning