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    National Planning Report

The Danish government published in March 2000 its National Planning Report 2000 ”Local Identity and New Challenges”. The report is not a specific and concrete plan for the future development, but a perspective, which focus on strategies for the co-ordination between trade and industry and the planning approach. Then, the report focuses on the role of spatial planning in developing the urban system, in business development, transport and environment.

The process

For the first time the Minister for Environment and Energy sent out an introductory presentation of the National Planning Report in public. The Minister’s called for ideas and proposals to the topics set up in the presentation. In the light of this a Draft Proposal was elaborated, sent out in public concentration for 8 weeks. The final version, incorporating many of the received comments was then submitted to the Government and discussed in the Parliament.

Three main messages are set up in the National Planning Report:

1 Co-ordination between spatial planning and business development

The increasing internationalisation makes it necessary to be more specialised at local and regional level both in the business and service sector to be able to compete both at national and international level. To meet this development trend spatial planning in municipalities and counties should be co-ordinated more closely with the local and regional strategies for business development.

Therefore, each region has to find its own strengths and competencies to match the national and international competition. It is important to realise that every region cannot do the same. Competent regions have to co-ordinate and co-operate across administrative and geographical boundaries. One of the main points in the report is that the local partners – municipalities, counties, the local industry and institutions – can join a locally based network which finds locally based solutions.


In the National Planning Report the Government has appointed two new national centres to be part of the urban pattern. Formerly Denmark had 5 national centres. The difference between the old and new appointed centres is that these are parts of the urban pattern, not as cities but as city networks. The appointment is an acknowledgement of the value of co-operation between cities. It strengthens the importance that the definition of the urban pattern does not remain static but reflects more dynamic and qualitative factors. In the new understanding the national centres can be partners in a co-ordinated, organised and binding co-operation between municipalities.

2. Changing needs for business sites

The business development in Denmark is becoming more internationalised, service industries and information companies are growing. Existing areas designated for more traditional industry and business development often do not correspond to the desires for location of the future-oriented business. Too many areas, which have been laid out in municipal plans for these purposes many years ago, are still left.

Therefore, the municipalities have to start revising their designation of land zoned for business and incorporate the future needs in today’s decisions. Urban restructuring and reusing older industrial areas ‘brown fields’, harbour areas etc. in cities and towns is a good way to ensure Denmark’s cities and towns to continue to function well and that the potential sites are brought up to date. The demands for cultural, environmentally and ecologically values could be combined with the attempt to renew and revitalise urban areas in decline.

The report propose to elaborate a method to create better functional cities or towns, and to secure better use of urban areas in the aim to obtain coherent and sustainable cities and towns.

3. Using the existing infrastructure

The development in the infrastructure does not follow the environmental trends. One of the most important environmental issues is the emission of CO2 from the transport sector. Spatial planning is one of the Government’s key long-term instruments in environmental policy. If spatial planning is applied correctly it can contribute to reduce the environmental problems associated with transport. The instrument includes prevention of unnecessary urban sprawl and location of enterprises in cities and towns so that the employees can use public transport more than they do today. The existing infrastructure should be used much better and as effective as possible to reduce the volume of transport and environmental problems.

Multimodal transport centres that link the various modes of transport have an important role in changing the present use of infrastructure. Therefore, a dialogue between the involved partners is needed to get a realistic picture of the transport flow having the aim to identify possible location of multimodal transport centres.

Follow-up activities

The Government has decided to initiate some concrete projects in line with the goals in the report. The projects will be implemented in co-operation between the national and regional/local authorities. The projects should be examples for further initiatives.

Shops and shopping centres

In the last 10 years new shops and shopping centres have increasingly been located on the edge of town centres or in few and bigger Danish cities. Investigations have stated that these tendencies would weaken the service standard for about 50% of the population who does not have the possibility to go shopping by car. It would also weaken the traditional city cores as the main centres for trade, and weaken the basis for the commercial branches in a greater number of small and medium size cities. At last it would increase the car-dependency in shopping.

In 1997 the Danish Parliament revised the Planning Act. The aim was to change the unfavourable development trends especially for the small and medium size towns and to enhance the Planning Act as a suitable instrument in managing the location of larger shops and shopping centres.

The main aim for future planning is:

  • promote a varied supply of shops in smaller and medium sized towns and cities, and in the individual parts of the bigger city,
  • ensure, that areas for shopping purposes are located well accessible for especially the walking, bicycling and public transport,
  • promote a socially and environmentally sustainable retail structure, with reduced transport distances in relation to shopping, and
  • locate areas for shopping purposes in the central part of a city. In bigger cities and in the Greater Copenhagen Region areas for shopping purposes can be located in central areas of bigger neighbourhoods.

The counties have the planning responsibility for the retail trade planning, and the municipal plans have to be in the framework of the regional plans. It is expected that all the counties will finish their supplement to the regional plan concerning the retail trade in this year.

    Strategic municipal planning

In February 2000 the Parliament adopted a change in the Planning Act concerning municipal planning. See chapter II, point 2. Municipal plan.

The main aim is to enhance the political dimension of the municipal plans. In the Strategic Municipal Plan the Municipal County gets an opportunity to state their position of the future development of the municipal. The result could be a more goal-oriented and focused debate and at the same time strengthen the public participation.

Local Agenda 21

Local Agenda 21 is now fixed by law. See chapter II, point 2, Regional plan, Municipal plan.

The main aim is to elaborate a strategic plan for the implementation of the local Aganda 21 work. So far the efforts have been rather action-oriented. The new provision demands must more strategic thinking.

In addition, it opens up new opportunities to link the two strategies (the municipal and local Agenda 21), which could improve the sustainable development perspective, not least when speaking about sustainable urban development.


The Minister of Environment and Energy has issued new guidelines concerning planning for windmills. The new guidelines are more restrictive than the old ones. The coming region and municipal plans have to point out specific areas for location of windmills, the distance to neighbouring farms or towns, the height of the windmills etc.


  • Spatial Planning in Denmark, Niels Østergård, Ministry of Environment and Energy, Spatial Planning Department
  • Spatial Planning Systems in Denmark, Stig Enemark

The Danish contribution was prepared by Helle Fischer
Ministry of Environment and Energy
Spatial Planning Department
Tel. +45 33 92 76 00


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