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Special - Spatial Planning and Energy for Communities in All Landscapes Town and Country Planning Association European Union


Building the planning and sustainable energy capacity of the town planning profession is at the heart of SPECIAL.

SPECIAL will share learning, best practice and case studies as part of the project's focus on training and knowledge development.

In this part of the website you will be able to access publications, reports, best practice, case studies and learning that the SPECIAL project will develop and share over the course of three years.

Apr 2016Pan European Guide

Planners across Europe are at the forefront of the creation of a low carbon future. As the challenges of climate change increase, the dangers of flooding, extreme heat and drought are experienced more regularly across Europe. Spatial planning is the profession with the most powerful ability to co-ordinate the many things that need to be done to ensure that the physical environment mitigates the effects of climate change. It is often the most vulnerable in society who are most affected by climate change. Spatial planning provides a democratic process to reach decisions which, while not always popular, can help to safeguard the future of the planet and ensure that the well-being of the entire population is considered. Planners need to have the right skills and knowledge to deal with the challenges presented by climate change. The case studies in this guide illustrate what can be achieved through an integrated and robust approach to spatial planning for energy. This pan-European guide for planners has been created to help planners achieve the skills which they will need to maximise their contribution towards a sustainable and low carbon environment.

Apr 2016Presentations from the conference

Presentations from delegates at the final conference in February 2016.

Apr 2016Final event conference programme

This conference brought together the eight partners of the leading-edge SPECIAL (Spatial Planning and Energy for Communities In All Landscapes) project – from Austria, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, and the UK – to present and discuss the key findings and lessons learnt over its three years of operation. Delegates had the opportunity to meet experts representing Town Planning Associations from across Europe to learn about different planning approaches, good practice examples, and challenges and achievements.

Apr 2016SPECIAL Expert Paper 5

This SPECIAL project Expert Paper highlights the potential to implement sustainable energy solutions through existing planning regulations in Styria. It also investigates new opportunities for delivering sustainable energy planning in the Austrian province. The Department of Spatial Planning and Building Law in the Provincial Government of Styria is one of the eight partners in the Intelligent Energy Europe supported SPECIAL project. The Department is responsible for checking (controlling or giving a proof of) spatial planning at the municipal level for the whole province of Styria, which includes 287 municipalities. It consults with communities concerning the development of their land use maps, zoning plans, masterplans and local development concepts, which have to be prepared in accordance with Styrian spatial planning law. The Department also deals with the ongoing development of planning law and policy implementation. Integrated planning is an essential part of this work, as is the co-ordination of urban and spatial planning with other disciplines, mainly sustainability (such as climate change measures) and the management of transport and housing. Through such collaborations and interventions, spatial planners have important inputs to make to the overall process of municipal development. Styria has much experience with zoning plans, masterplans and legal regulations, and can draw on experinece in other Austrian provinces. A number of good practice examples of low energy use communities and regions can be found in Styria. The province has also run a project – ‘Energy Efficient Settlements in Styria’ – in which the masterplans of one municipality were tested for energy efficiency. The masterplan with the best combination of low energy use and low costs was subsequently supported by the Department. The Provincial Government of Styria has great interest in integrating new methods of working into its functions, and in learning from examples dealing with spatial planning and sustainable energy. During the course of the SPECIAL project it became clear that existing planning law and regulations in Styria provide opportunities to promote sustainable energy. In a way, it is ‘simply’ the task of those who undertake spatial planning within the municipalities, on one hand, and Styria’s Department of Spatial Planning and Building Law, on the other, to control and implement existing planning instruments in a more ‘energy-spatial’ way.

Apr 2016SPECIAL Expert Paper 4

The Sustainable Municipality Planning Approach (SMPA) is a process-oriented planning concept involving ideas and methodology drawn from various schools of thought, and combining collaborative, communicative, rational and strategic planning ideas and approaches. The SMPA’s main purpose is to promote inclusive cross-sectoral planning processes that integrate the energy perspective into spatial planning – or the spatial perspective into energy strategies – and to support sustainable spatial development in general. The SMPA is the product of various research and development projects, and experience gained from planning practice, led by one of the authors of this Expert Paper (Ulf Ranhagen). Working with practitioners and other researchers, it has been continuously developed for over a decade. The first stage in its evolution was the Swedish Sustainable City concept, launched at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 20021 and later re-named SymbioCity. The approach was further developed in collaboration with municipal practitioners as part of the Swedish Energy Agency’s Sustainable Municipality research and development programme (running from 2003 to 2012), combining the general sustainability planning approach with targeted tools and methods for integrating energy considerations into urban planning. The SMPA approach has continued to be developed, especially within the SPECIAL project. The emphasis is on capitalising on informal opportunities in addition to – or within the framework of – addressing the necessary formalities required in planning. It aims to go beyond procedural formalities and analyses, focusing on the creative development of proposals on sustainability issues and, in particular, on planning for energy for commercial and domestic heat, power and transport.

Apr 2016SPECIAL Expert Paper 3

This SPECIAL project Expert Paper considers the key role that urban transport plays in meeting the Europe Union’s target of at least a 27% improvement in energy efficiency and a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030.1 It highlights the opportunities for improving energy efficiency through a combination of integrated land use and transport planning and the exploitation of new vehicle technologies. An integrated land use and transport policy – such as a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan – is one of the most long-term, strategic and effective ways of both reducing carbon dioxide emissions and improving the security of energy supply. The number of measures aimed at reducing the transport energy dependence of cities across Europe is growing. This Expert Paper highlights good practice in improving the energy sustainability of urban transport systems. It is aimed primarily at local authority planners, councillors and private sector practitioners, but is also intended to be useful for architects, energy practitioners, renewable energy providers, transport planners and anyone else seeking to tackle climate change and reap the positive economic benefits that renewable energy approaches and low-carbon living can bring.

Oct 2015SPECIAL Expert Paper 2

This Expert Paper highlights the role of Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP) methodologies in advancing evidence-based energy policies at local authority/ municipality level and in aiding the development of a local-authority-wide Spatial Energy Demand Analysis, with the ultimate aim of strengthening links between energy and spatial planning through County Development Plans, Strategic Development Zones and other local plans and strategies. The paper is designed to set out the experiences of South Dublin County Council in developing evidence-based climate change mitigation policies for County Development Plans and other local plans and strategies, including identifying and taking advantage of energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities. The paper is aimed primarily at local authority planners and related professional staff, councillors, and private sector practitioners. It will also be useful for architects, energy engineers, renewable energy providers, developers, and all stakeholders

Jul 2015SPECIAL Expert Paper

The Expert Paper explores how sustainable energy can be integrated into the masterplanning, design and development of both new communities and urban regeneration initiatives. The report has been designed to highlight good practice in masterplanning for sustainable energy and is aimed primarily at local authority town planners and councillors, as well as other built environment professionals, who want to tackle climate change and reap the positive economic benefits that solutions such as renewable energy and low-carbon living can bring.

Jan 2015Successful peer-to-peer working for sustainable energy action planning

The TCPA has been working on an EU publication in conjunction ManagEnergy, ICLEI Europe, Eurocities, the National Technical University of Athens and the Municipality of Vicenza. This publication provides guidance on how to facilitate experience exchange and learning from each other on sustainable energy action planning in an innovative way by using different methods of working together. The report give examples of how mentoring, work-shadowing and peer-to-peer can be used for working with different actors involved in sustainable energy as well as working within different local contexts. This report has been written as part of the LEAP and SPECIAL Intelligent Energy Europe funded projects

Dec 2014What does spatial planning have to do with localised renewable energy?

This article explores what localised renewable energy is, and the role do planners and spatial planning have to play in bringing it forward

Oct 2013SPECIAL project brochure
SPECIAL project brochure

This 'about SPECIAL' project brochure offers an overview of the project's objectives, timescales and partners involved.