Town Planning Review

The integrating role of regional spatial planning: five mechanisms of policy integration

Town Planning Review (2022), 93, (4), 423–450.


Policy integration is considered an essential condition for constructing a more sustainable society, but proponents of sustainable development differ in their views about what is to be integrated, what is to be developed, how to link environment and development, and for how long a time. Regional spatial planning has been a locus of attempts to resolve these differences and realise policy integration, but its mechanisms to achieve this remain less explored. This study sets out to meet three objectives as follows: (1) to identify, through a systematic literature review, a broad set of mechanisms by which (regional) spatial planning realises joined-up policy making; (2) to illustrate the identified mechanisms in two distinct spatial planning systems, Germany and England; and (3) to generate insights into factors that contribute to, and confine, the identified mechanisms. The findings identify five integrating mechanisms of spatial planning that could inform plan making, analysis and monitoring and provide lessons about the potential and constraints of these mechanisms in different social, institutional and political contexts.

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Author details

Bafarasat, Abbas Ziafati

Baker, Mark

Growe, Anna