Tools for Sustainable Change: How Spatial Decision-Support Tools Support Transformative Urban Regeneration

Tools for Sustainable Change: How Spatial Decision-Support Tools Support Transformative Urban Regeneration

Rita De Jesus Dionisio (University of Canterbury, New Zealand), Mirjam Schindler (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand) and Simon Kingham (University of Canterbury, New Zealand)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/IJEPR.2020040102

Abstract

This research focuses on the ability of spatial decision-support tools (SDST) to transform urban regeneration processes through collaborative planning between authorities and communities. This article presents what was learned from the implementation of two SDST within planning authorities in Aotearoa, New Zealand. The first tool, Envision, enables the identification of suitable areas for urban regeneration; the second, ESP, focuses on the environmental and socio-economic assessment of regeneration scenarios at the neighbourhood scale. We use empirical observations from the implementation of these SDST in diverse planning authorities, to analyse the influence of local specificities and appropriate collaboration models for the development and adoption of the tools for decision-making and community engagement. We provide recommendations for future development and implementation of SDST to reinforce collaborative planning and local governance within urban regeneration processes.
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1. Introduction

The increasing need for climate change adaptation and urban sustainability has encouraged governments to review planning agendas and strategies focused on social, environmental and economic urban regeneration, while tackling local needs such as housing and transport (Baker, Peterson, Brown, & McAlpine, 2012; Siders, 2017). Current planning tools and processes need to be re-evaluated to assess their suitability to address urban planning shifts. The big global challenges that need to be considered add pressure to planning, policymaking, and decision-making (Aylett, 2014), which already face challenges in the form of complex and diverse priorities at multiple scales. In this context, we argue that sustainable change is necessary in planning, toward evidence-based, multi-scale, and collaborative urban regeneration addressing local planning needs, and simultaneously tackling global planning pressures.

This research aims to examine whether, and if so how, spatial decision-support tools (SDST) can encourage sustainable changes in urban planning, by supporting collaborative planning. To achieve this, we discuss the implementation of two research based SDST in several planning authorities in New Zealand. The first tool, Envision, enables the identification of suitable areas for urban regeneration, while the second, Envision Scenario Planner (ESP), supports the environmental and socio-economic assessment of regeneration scenarios. This research examines the suitability of SDST and implementation methodologies to strengthen planning processes and outcomes, while recognising the relevance of local and global issues to achieve sustainable changes in urban planning. Empirical observations on planning stakeholders’ engagement provide the basis for this. Finally, we provide recommendations for future development and implementation of SDST to reinforce collaborative planning and local governance within urban regeneration processes.

We start by reviewing relevant research and raise some key questions. Section 2 reviews the three bodies of literature that contribute to the theoretical framework: 1) Emergent urbanism asserting the importance of urban regeneration for sustainable change; 2) collaborative planning supporting the need for collaborative tools; and 3) socio-technical interactions explaining some of the challenges of implementing SDST in urban planning. Section 3 explains the research methodology, including the SDST, case study authorities and implementation methods. Section 4 presents the results and section 5 then discusses the research findings, providing recommendations for future SDST implementation and methodologies to encourage sustainable change in urban planning.

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