Sustainable and compact urban development

The evaluation of the five-year program "Planning for Large Cities" is now completed. The evaluation deals with the design, management and effects of the program.

«Planning for Large Cities» is a state-initiated five-year program (2013-2017), aiming at contributing to future-oriented urban planning, improved urban environments and facilitation of increased housing construction in the four largest cities: Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim and Stavanger. The Ministry of Local Government and Modernization (KMD) manages the program. The current report evaluates i) the design, ii) the administration and iii) the effects and achievements of the program.

The key question in this evaluation is whether the program has achieved its goals: To strengthen the competence and capacity of key participants in their efforts to achieve comprehensive and coordinated urban development. It is important to contribute to more cooperation across sectors and municipal boundaries.

Main findings

The main finding is that the individual instruments and the design of the program are suitable for achieving the goals. The program has provided capacity (and expertise) directly by financing positions and, indirectly by enabling the co-funding of project managers, as well as funding to purchase external expertise. In addition, the design of the program is considered to match the challenges the metropolitan regions have. Also, the values and ideas of the program are in line with what the urban planners believe to be good planning practises. Furthermore, the timing of the program is appropriate; it came at a time when the city municipalities had mature ideas of how to develop “good cities» but lacked capacity to plan and implement initiatives other than statutory obligations.  Interviews with informants on all levels of public administration tell that the funding from the program has been very much appreciated as it has dovetailed with their needs.

The funding has contributed to the implementation of more, or larger scale planning projects, than they otherwise would have had the capacity and competence to accomplish. Moreover, the contents and the quality of the projects have been affected by the fact that the funding gave the planners the opportunity to try out new planning methods, new ideas through pilots and experiments, and to involve with other development agents than they normally do (businesses, artists, students, researchers, residents etc.).

By including both the city municipalities, county councils and county governors in the same program, all three administrative levels are simultaneously encouraged and enabled to contribute to the national goals of urban planning. Quantitatively, both capacity and urban development skills have been strengthened. However, in terms of supporting comprehensive and coordinated urban development, we believe there is a potential to gain more synergies across levels of management. We will return to this point.

Long-term perspective and flexibility

Planning is long-term work. The program got a flying start by initially supporting «ongoing relevant processes».  The Ministry has shown flexibility in cases where projects have been delayed, and has generally allowed transfer of funds to next year. Normally, the budget routines for county councils and municipalities indicate that the money will be withdrawn if not used during the fiscal year. When the funds can be transferred, it increases the chances that the projects will be implemented despite delays. The city municipalities and the county councils appreciate this flexibility, and that the Ministry acknowledges that urban planning processes can be long winding and complex. 

The Ministry of Local Government and Modernization (KMD) manages the program. It was initiated by the Planning Department in Ministry of the Environment (MD), and was subsequently transferred to the Ministry of Local Government and Modernization because of the Planning Department being moved there in 2014.

The move does not appear to have had a significant impact on the design and management of the program, at least not in the short term. Probably, there has been a gradual slowdown of some of MD's tasks, and some of the administrative procedures of the KMD are slightly different. Nevertheless, our informants have not noticed any changes; they point out that stability has reigned as the same people have been in charge of the program throughout the period.

From 2017, major changes have been made to the program, involving “urban development agreements». The evaluation has taken place from December 2016 to June 2017, and consequently does not cover this change.

Link to the report: Elisabeth Angell, Gro Marit Grimsrud og Tord Skogedal Lindén: Bærekraftig og kompakt byutvikling. Evalueringen av «Plansatsing mot store byer».

Link to the project.

June 29, 2017, 9:52 a.m.

cp: 2018-07-18 14:18:16