Chapter 1: Introduction
How to Connect Planning, Design and Transport
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This chapter serves as an overall introduction to the book and positions an integrated ideal in urban governance in relation to sustainable urban development and compact urban growth. It then identifies key questions of integrated urban governance which this book addresses and provides a brief overview on the analysis which underpinned the research for this book, a comparative case study of London and Berlin. The chapter concludes by presenting the organisation of the book.

We have much studied and much perfected, of late, the great civilized invention of the division of labour; only we give it a false name. It is not, truly speaking, the labour that is divided; but the men; – Divided into mere segments of men – broken into small fragments and crumbs of life; so that all the little piece of intelligence that is left in a man is not enough to make a pin, or a nail, but exhausts itself in making the point of a pin or the head of a nail. (John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice, 1852)

This book investigates the integration of urban planning, city design and transport policies that has emerged in London and Berlin since the early 1990s. It examines how urban policymakers, professionals and stakeholders have sought to work across disciplinary silos, geographic scales and different time horizons to facilitate more compact and connected urban development as part of the broader sustainability agenda. Focusing on detailed case studies of London and Berlin, the book explores recent urban practice and enquires about the degree to which new approaches to urban governance have been able to advance planning and policy integration beyond hierarchical decision-making structures and processes.

The investigation here is centrally attached to a prominent subject of public administration, policy and planning: the coordination and integration of government action. More than just a recurrent theme, this has been referred to as possibly the most overarching governance issue and challenge, a fundamental dimension of governing social life and a central perspective through which the role of the state and other actors can be described and analysed (6 et al. 2002). At the same time, the enduring challenge of planning and policy integration has not insulated the subject from varying levels of interest and it has been exposed to both great attention and relative neglect. In approaching this through the lens of how urban governance over recent decades has engaged in steering the physical development of cities to facilitate more compact urban growth, the discussion focuses on a specific period, a particular scale of governance and key policy sectors in which there is significant interest in an ‘integrated ideal’ of governance. These are temporal, spatial and policy contexts that are characterised not only by substantial ambitions for advancing planning and policy integration, but – it might be said – by the necessity of doing so.

Since the early 1990s, the spatial governance of cities has seen an increasing awareness of ‘wicked problems’ (Harrison 2000; Head 2008; Weber and Khademian 2008), above all the environmental crisis, and an accelerated demand for more coordinated and integrated policy responses (CEC 1990) coupled with a greater popularity of system thinking. Furthermore, considerable cross-sectoral synergies are characteristic of the scale of the city, referred to in terms of an ‘urban nexus’ (GIZ and ICLEI 2014). The policy sectors of spatial planning, city design and urban transport are arguably the most fundamental dimensions of the urban policy nexus, which are also central to an agenda for compact urban growth. The analysis here does not focus on the environmental, social and economic claims to be made for compact urban development – on which a considerable body of literature is based; rather, it focuses on institutional arrangements of urban governance that might support or have been adopted in pursuit of this agenda.

Governing Compact Cities is motivated by three general critical perspectives that position my discussions within the broader field of urban planning while also making important links to political science and public administration.

First, I acknowledge a general understanding that business-as-usual urban development is unsustainable. This is premised on a full acknowledgement of the scale of today’s urban development challenges, which in turn highlights the need for more effective government intervention (Marcotullio and McGranahan 2007; Stern 2009; UN Habitat 2011; UNEP 2011; Glaeser 2012). There is overwhelming evidence that urban policymakers across the world are struggling to balance the escalation of activities in cities with more sustainable forms of urban development (Hardoy et al. 2001; Cohen 2006; UN Habitat 2009; Sorensen and Okata 2010; Burdett and Sudjic 2011). Questions regarding the size, speed, shape, and spatial distributions of densities, land uses and morphologically differentiated areas of the city and their relationship to transport infrastructure have become increasingly complex and politicised. A particular threat to urban sustainability is linked to the level of horizontal urban expansion of cities – urban sprawl in the extreme case – producing potentially unsustainable transport patterns and extreme congestion (Cervero 1998; Docherty and Shaw 2008; GCEC 2014), risks for social inclusion and equitable city access (Vasconcellos 2001; Litman 2006), and increasing energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions (Kennedy et al. 2005; IPCC 2014a).

Second, I embrace a perspective suggesting that compact urban growth is a central component of a more sustainable global development pathway. To a degree, this implies that the kind of development required for a safer and more prosperous future seems to have been already identified. Today, knowledge about the various global causalities of, for example, human intervention and environmental impacts is reasonably sufficient (IPCC 2007; Giddens 2009; Stern 2009; UNEP 2010). This is also the case for the spatial development of cities across developed and developing world contexts, where urban theorists, planners and policymakers have argued for a compact city model with a central objective of reducing the environmental footprint of cities, while improving their socio-economic performance (Jenks et al. 1996; Thomas and Cousins 1996; UTF 1999; Rogers and Power 2000; Williams et al. 2000; GCEC 2014).

The compact city model is arguably among the most prominent contemporary examples in urban development of a relatively clear agenda on ‘what to do’. Essentially, it aims to increase urban density and mixed-use, promote public and non-motorised transport, and improve the quality of urban design (UTF 1999; Burgess 2000; OECD 2012). The successful application of such broad principles is obviously highly contingent on appropriate translation to specific contexts. By and large, these principles are also motivated by seeking to avoid their opposite: a further increase of sprawling, mono-functional and car-dependent urban development – the ‘what not to do’ on which agreement may be even more widespread. Over the last two decades, this agenda has informed planning and policy practice in a significant number of cities around the world, generating knowledge on ‘how’ such an agenda might be implemented (OECD 2012).

This leads me to the third and final general perspective, which motivated the focus of this book. This perspective suggests that the delivery of more compact urban growth centrally depends on more integrated planning and policymaking. It thus shifts the focus from questions about ‘what to do’ to those of ‘how to do it’ while also acknowledging a broader and pervasive ‘implementation deficit’ in sustainable urban development (Owens and Cowell 2011). Related arguments have been made by numerous scholars of sustainable development and planning theory, emphasising planning and policy ‘process’ in addition to ‘content’ (Hajer 1995; Healey 1997; Flyvbjerg 1998; Kearns and Paddison 2000; Rydin 2003). And while there are many studies and reports on policy instruments advancing compact urban growth, a focus on the broader institutional arrangements supporting this agenda is less common. This has led to my interest in the capacity for integrating urban planning, city design and transport policies; a capacity facilitated by the integration mechanisms I investigate here and which, in turn, allow for adapting a generic compact city model to specific local conditions.

More generally, and as I discuss in the next section, integrated planning and policymaking has been identified as an area where surprisingly little academic literature and research exists (Meijers and Stead 2004; Kidd 2007).


Since the early 1990s, and often alongside references to the 1992 Rio Declaration of principles of sustainable development (United Nations 1992b), demands for integrated policymaking have become widespread. Equally and directly related, in an urban development context, ‘going beyond sectoral approaches’ (CEC 1990, p1) has been a consistent theme for some time. More recently, the ‘urban’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 11) make reference to ‘integrated and sustainable human settlement planning’ and target ‘adopting and implementing integrated policies and plans’ (UN 2015, Goal 11.3 and 11.b). And specifically in relation to compact urban growth objectives, the United Nations’ (2016) ‘New Urban Agenda’ includes the aim to ‘promote integrated urban and territorial planning, including planned urban extensions based on the principles of equitable, efficient and sustainable use of land and natural resources, compactness, polycentrism, appropriate density and connectivity, …’ (§98).

However, there is currently insufficient knowledge about integrated planning and related governance structures, and identifying the desired level of coordination while acknowledging critical trade-offs remains extremely difficult. Busetti (2015) further stresses that ‘the link between coordination problems and specific institutional architecture remains ambiguous’ (p13) and that ‘though the equation between institutional integration and policy integration is quick, it is nonetheless deceptive’ (p17). There is also, as highlighted by Cowell and Martin (2003), a sustained naivety regarding the ‘tough political decisions about control, resources, organisational design, and (potentially conflicting) policy objectives’ (p162f) that result from shifting towards more joined-up practice. Looking at spatial development, Kidd (2007) comes to a similar conclusion that, ‘while there is general recognition that integration is an essential feature of spatial planning, understanding of its complexity in terms of spatial planning theory and practice is still emerging’ (p161).

Overall, there are only a few studies on policy integration, particularly related to the horizontal management of policy sectors (Peters 1998) and to urban governance in connection with a compact city agenda. Meijers and Stead (2004) suggest that it ‘should be regarded as a relative frontier of knowledge’, where understanding ‘can build on some decades of research in organisational science addressing cooperation and coordination between different sectors’ (p12). Still, specific advice on how to achieve greater integration and how to draw lessons from existing inter-sectoral working practices is largely absent (Underdal 1980; OECD 1996; Hull 2008), with the few exceptions tending to situate the debate in relation to particular periods and specific national contexts (6 et al. 2002; Bogdanor 2005).

The most conventional integration mechanism relies on a hierarchical management structure, which creates oversight capabilities at each level and facilitates integration through the next level up (Thompson 1991; Schreyögg 2007). Most efforts to integrate transport and land-use developments in cities continue to rely on such hierarchical principles. They are, for example, a key characteristic of the widely praised Dutch planning system (Kennedy et al. 2005). Public administrations tend to coordinate from the top level downwards, leaving any integrative capacity with a few senior officials and politicians. Greater control over processes and personnel, as well as clearer lines of communication and responsibilities, are commonly regarded as key advantages of hierarchical structures (Kerzner 2009). Similarly, planning documents at different scales tend to cascade downwards from the higher, general to the lower, more detailed planning scale.

But as coordination becomes more complex and agendas include competing priorities, the central nodes of hierarchical systems can easily be overwhelmed and communication flows are more difficult to synchronise (Thompson 1991). More recently, this has also become evident for the specific case of governing large metropolitan regions (Röber and Schröter 2002b). Not surprisingly, integration based on hierarchical, top-down processes, and particularly if leading to greater centralisation, is increasingly difficult to achieve as well as being seen as undesirable (Rhodes 2000; Stoker 2005; Hansen 2006). Meanwhile ‘centralize what you must, decentralize whatever you can!’ (Boelens 2009, p146) has become the latest principle, even in Dutch planning. Therefore, alternative integration models have had to be developed, taking into account various integration challenges that have affected urban policymaking over recent decades (Peters 1998; Stead 2008). Above all, network governance, which integrates more horizontally and ‘trades off control for agreement’ (Rhodes 2000, p161), has emerged as a key paradigm for integration.

Three challenges are particularly relevant for coordinating urban planning, design and transport and each informs the enquiry into new modes of integration. The first integration challenge relates to the well-documented transition ‘from government to governance’ (Rhodes 1997b; Stoker 1998; Heere 2004; Blumenthal and Bröchler 2006) – deregulation, increased flexibility of planning and the greater involvement of the private sector (Greiving and Kemper 1999) – and a shift from an ‘active’ to an ‘enabling’ state (OECD 1996) with the aim of increasing plurality and the potential for democratic decision-making (Röber and Schröter 2002b; Evans et al. 2006). These shifts have led to more networked forms of governance (Powell 1990; Rhodes 1997b), expanding the number and diversity of actors involved in an increasingly nonlinear policymaking process and challenging hierarchical integration (Greiving and Kemper 1999; Hajer and Versteeg 2005). The ongoing privatisation of urban services, infrastructure delivery and operation (Thornley 1996; Cowell and Martin 2003; Harvey 2005; 2007) adds to the complexity of achieving greater policy integration by constraining accountability and strategic visioning. Furthermore, shifts towards new public management, quasi-market mechanisms and the proliferation of public agencies have added to this integration challenge (OECD 2004; Dunleavy et al. 2006; Catney et al. 2008).

The second challenge of integration arises from a general requirement to cut across temporal and spatial scales. With regard to bringing together short-term action and long-term strategy, political impatience is a major barrier. Perri 6 et al. (2002) identify three types of impatience for the case of the United Kingdom (UK) government. The first emanates from the urgency of politicians to ‘secure their licence to govern from a sceptical public’ (6 et al. 2002, p99). The second impatience is a result of electoral cycles, which considerably constrain windows of opportunity. The third is a lack of trust among policymakers at different governance levels and between politicians and professionals that results in short-term hyperactivism (6 et al. 2002). As a result, long-term interests are considerably discounted. Similarly, bridging geographic scales is challenging, particularly as a result of urban expansion and in cases where administrative boundaries are unable to catch up and match the functional integration of metropolitan regions (Shaw and Sykes 2005). Berlin is an extreme example of this, having been confronted with rapid suburbanisation following Germany’s reunification, which mostly took place outside the administrative boundary of the Land Berlin.

Finally, the legacy of many decades of fragmentation and isolation of planning practice, sometimes not even connected at the top, is arguably the most significant obstacle to achieving more strategic urban development based on joined-up transport and urban planning. Division of labour in modern organisations is of course an inevitability, as stressed early on in the seminal works by Max Weber (1922) and Emile Durkheim (1894). But there appears to be a particular difficulty in overcoming the long-term path dependency of funding mechanisms, operational set-ups, and distribution of political and administrative power and resources, which reinforces turf wars, budget protection and therefore fragmentation (Steiner 1997; Steer Davies Gleave 2002; Page 2005; Dunleavy et al. 2006). Perri 6 et al. (2002) observe that prioritising control particularly among politicians is one critical factor that leads to functional fragmentation, following the logic of ‘divide and rule’. Furthermore, professional capture, whereby professions tend to secure their monopolies within defined spheres of knowledge, is commonly identified as reinforcing fragmentation (6 et al. 2002). Again, growing evidence suggests that cities may be able to overcome these problems, raising the question of how to deal with barriers such as institutional inertia, conflicting interests (Dimitriou and Thompson 2001), and professional culture and capacity (Klein 1990; Geerlings and Stead 2003; Sennett 2012).

Each of these challenges and lines of enquiry provide a backdrop for the discussions that follow. And it is the related knowledge gap referred to above that this book aims to address, through an analysis of the relevant governance structure, planning processes, instruments and enabling conditions in two key case study cities, London and Berlin.


Many studies of integrated planning and policymaking follow a problem-oriented approach. They are centrally informed by issues, tensions and challenges of policy praxis and are motivated by the possibility of feeding back to planning and policy communities. They may even aspire to directly influence reform agendas addressing greater policy coherence, the improvement of integrated planning and, more broadly, multi-level governance. These are common characteristics of applied research initiatives by, for example, the European Commission, the OECD and various organisations of the United Nations.

The investigation undertaken here is no exception and similarly attaches itself to the above problematique, informed by common observations and questions emerging from urban planning, city design and transport policy. And besides recognising the limited attention the subject has received in academic literature and research, the choice of this focus stems from a personal observation regarding the limited knowledge on the part of city governments about how to respond effectively to new demands for integrated planning and policy. At the same time, putting urban level governance at the core means investigating a context that has been regarded as relatively more successful in advancing integrated planning and policymaking, in contrast to reforms targeting central government itself (Mulgan 2005; Tewdwr-Jones and Allmendinger 2007).

It is in the context of the compact city model that many cities have indeed pioneered new approaches to strategic spatial planning and urban governance, aiming to integrate policy across sectors, geographic levels and timescales. The OECD (2012) emphasises that the very aim of compact city policy is to address integrated urban policy goals. Thus, being in some sense a ‘system solution’, implementing the compact city agenda relies on multi-level, networked governance arrangements and coordinated planning and policy, cutting across transport, urban design and land use. It is only successful, if, for example, local street design makes urban living more attractive, while enhancing sustainable transport at all city scales.

Therefore, this book focuses on the compact city as an instructive example of what utilitarians consider a ‘task’ from which ‘organisational form’ follows (6 et al. 2002) or what Hill (2012) regards as ‘the matter’ which, over the last 10–20 years, has informed ‘the meta’: the organisational strategy and ‘appropriate institutional arenas’ (Albrechts et al. 2003, p127) that lie behind the facilitation of more compact, public transportoriented and higher quality urban development. More specifically, I aim to document recent experience of trying to overcome one of the most critical barriers for compact city development: the ‘silo-isation’ of spatial planning, design and transport strategies within the broader government-led strategic planning process.

This focus is developed around the following questions, which emerge from the underlying motivations and seek to address the problematique outlined above: How have objectives for integrating urban planning, city design and transport policies been pursued as part of a compact city agenda in key case study cities since the early 1990s? What mechanisms for integration can be identified at the scale of city government and other relevant scales? And what broader concepts in relation to integrated governance can be detected through the analysis of key cases?

Ultimately, I concentrate on the most significant institutional arrangements that have evolved since the early 1990s to strengthen integrated spatial governance. It is helpful to illustrate this focus by positioning my investigations across the wider spectrum characterising the relationships between institutions and policy outcomes. While the main focus here is on integration mechanisms, I also consider several multi-directional relationships across this spectrum, including the extent to which institutional change is informed by intentional reform based on a pre-existing policy agenda. However, directly addressing the long and complex causal chain between institutions and policy outcomes would be too ambitious (if not impossible). Instead, what is of interest here is the narrower link between institutional arrangements and the capacity for integrated planning and policymaking.


This book draws on empirical evidence from two critical cases, London and Berlin – a choice informed by several criteria. First, the Western European context combines an urban policy focus on compact city development (EU 2007) with ‘strong-state’ traditions, including a significant capacity for public sector-led strategic development (Albrechts et al. 2003). Furthermore, most European countries have a long history of multi-level governance, and European-level policy on sustainable urban development and city governance links the cases together even across different national contexts. Within the European Union (EU), both the UK and Germany have pioneered cross-sectoral integration as part of urban policy since the 1990s (6 2005).

Second, as for the two countries, among their larger conurbations, institutional change at the city and metropolitan level over the last decades has been most evident for their largest urban centres, London and Berlin. Given the two cities’ urban and political change, their complexity of urban governance surpasses those of other larger cities within their respective countries. Contrasting organically grown London, which saw continuous reform towards more pronounced models of integrated planning during the 2000s, and Berlin, which is regarded as a well-integrated compact city with nevertheless high levels of institutional reforms affecting spatial governance, also offers key insights through a comparative perspective.

And third, the two cities and their contexts display critical differences in relation to the organisation of the state, planning cultures and attitudes to government. For example, analysis of European welfare state traditions typically differentiates between the UK (‘liberal/basic security’) and Germany (‘continental/corporatist’) (Nadin and Stead 2008). Similarly, the Rechtsstaat tradition in administration-dominant Germany provides a considerably different context for policy integration from that of a public interest country such as the UK (6 2005). In terms of their administrative regimes at the city level, London traditionally represents a more decentralised approach with independent boroughs as core units of local government whereas Berlin is a more centralised system, dominated by a citywide government (Röber et al. 2002).

Similarly, their respective planning systems – for the UK based on land-use regulation and in Germany referred to as ‘comprehensive/integrated’ (Nadin and Stead 2008) – and diverging Anglo-Saxon and Continental planning cultures (Booth 2005) support this selection. The UK is among the few European countries that operate a discretionary planning system, where planning decisions are taken on a case-by-case basis. Spatial planning in Germany (and in most other Continental countries) is based on a binding system, including legally binding land-use plans (Albrechts 2004).

The data collected and analysed for Berlin and London included about 20 in-depth interviews with key stakeholders in each city as well as documentary information and archival records. Given the role of leadership in integrated governance, a considerable number of political and administrative leaders were included. Interviewees included the former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, former Minister for London Nick Raynsford and former Berlin Senators for Urban Development Peter Strieder and Ingeborg Junge-Reyer. Interviewed senior executives and civil servants were London’s Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy, State Secretary Engelbert Lütke Daldrup and several borough heads in both cities. Their views and insights were complemented by a range of other experts, civil servants, policymakers and private/third sector representatives. A list of all interviewees who agreed to their name being published is attached in the Appendix.


Governing Compact Cities is written with different audiences in mind and its chapters can be read in the sequence presented or independently. The book presents a multidisciplinary perspective of urban governance structures and processes in the context of a compact and connected urban growth agenda. This implies addressing scholars, practitioners and students from two interrelated areas of interest: institutional change and urban governance on the one hand, and compact city development and sustainable transport on the other. Without bringing the two together – the ‘meta’ and ‘matter’ – this book could not exist. This relationship is not only a guiding theme throughout but the principal structuring device for its four main chapters.

Following this Introduction, Chapter 2 – ‘Compact urban growth and sustainable transport’ – focuses on substantive policy, urban development trends and outcomes. It introduces the compact city model with a particular focus on its relationship with urban transport and examines relevant critiques. The second section presents global urban development trends and briefly analyses the extent to which they follow or contradict the fundamental ideas of compact development. The second half of the chapter discusses the two case study cities of Berlin and London and their compact city development agenda, including an overview of their actual development patterns since the early 1990s.

Chapter 3 – ‘Integrated urban governance and its institutions’ – presents a theoretical discussion on planning and policy integration and introduces several general perspectives that emerged from the empirical investigation in the case study cities. The chapter begins with a discussion of the links between institutional arrangements, policy capacity and outcomes. This leads to the critical role of integrated urban governance for implementing compact urban growth in the second section. Besides addressing implications of compact urban growth for planning and policy integration, this section also provides an overview of broader perspectives related to integration and holistic governance. The third section covers the central definitions and the operationalisation of planning and policy integration. It also presents the framework of integration mechanisms, which underpins the empirical analysis in the case study cities.

The second half of this chapter discusses three wider perspectives that emerged from the analysis of the two case study cities. First, I present relevant insights that relate to the central question about the role of hierarchical structures and networks in facilitating integration. Second, I discuss the impact of institutional change itself and to what degree disruptive or more continuous change may positively or negatively affect integrative capacities of organisations. And third, I reflect on the privileging of specific integration content as part of integrated planning and policymaking and discuss the degree to which, if any, the urban form and transport nexus is part of a totalising strategy of integration.

In Chapter 4 – ‘Berlin: integrating multi-level metropolitan governance’ – I turn to the first case study city. Following the identified framework of integration mechanisms, I begin by introducing the distinct system of government and present institutional arrangements that have had an impact on and potentially enhanced the integration of urban planning, city design and transport policies. I explore integration structures as well as changes thereof that may have facilitated planning and policy integration in Berlin. This very much considers the arguments presented earlier, in particular that any attempt at greater policy integration will ultimately rely on having structures in place that can support desirable levels of coordination. My account cuts across the administrative geography of the metropolitan region as well as the distribution of sectoral planning and policy powers across national, regional, city and district/neighbourhood levels. I also give special attention to network governance approaches based on involving a large set of stakeholders and discuss the relationship between hierarchical and network integration.

The chapter goes on to explore the integration processes and relevant adjustments that facilitated the linking of land-use planning, city design and transport. Here, I first introduce changes to local approaches in supporting the most relevant vertical integration across the metropolitan, city and district scale. I then discuss planning mechanisms that facilitate better horizontal, sectoral integration between urban planning, city design and transport policies. Across both directions of integration, the Berlin case indicates a considerable reliance on plan making, which in turn facilitates a planning process in which multiple stakeholders are involved. The final section cuts across integration instruments and enabling conditions. As part of a focus on more specific integration instruments I highlight various assessment tools, while the key enabling conditions cut across institutional knowledge, the capacity of individuals and the plurality of involved actors.

Chapter 5 – ‘London: urban governance with a new centre’ – broadly mirrors the same structure and discussions of the previous chapter for the second case study city. The first section, on changes to the city’s governance structure, introduces governance scales and political representation in London and focuses in particular on the impact of the creation of a Greater London Authority with a directly elected Mayor of London. Inevitably, this involves a discussion of the role of leadership in facilitating integration, which is complemented by my observations of whether and how network integration has balanced more centralised and hierarchical coordination mechanisms. The second and third sections on planning processes, instruments and enabling conditions more directly follow the same discussion as presented for Berlin. Key differences however, which will be addressed in the concluding chapter, relate to the limitations of vertical integration mechanisms in London.

In Chapter 6 – ‘Conclusion: comparison and implications’ – I return to a broader perspective on planning and policy integration, informed by the questions raised in this Introduction based on a comparative understanding of integration practices in Berlin and London. The first section argues that my findings do indeed allow for a linkage between a compact city policy agenda and the observed institutional changes. This is followed by a comparative perspective of the actual ‘how’ of integrating urban planning, city design and transport policies in London and Berlin in the second and third sections. While I compare and contrast the Berlin and London experience throughout this chapter, these sections also offer a more explicit overview of converging and diverging tendencies as part of the approaches in the two cities. Finally, I return to urban practice and identify possible practical implications of my findings. I also consider insights from the two case study cities that may be transferable to cities elsewhere. The closing section is dedicated to final deliberations and a perspective on related future academic enquiry.