A general trend in our modern society is a growing complexity. It is therefore logical that in most countries there has been a definite tendency to give weight to issues of adapting also the physical space to this complexity and to find methods to do this in an efficient way, giving satisfactory use of land and other natural resources. During the twentieth century we have seen a very active development of legal instruments for this purpose, aimed at steering spatial planning and plan implementation according to the objectives and policies chosen.
Another trend has been increased globalisation. With vivid communication and co-operation across the boundaries, we are getting more dependent of each other. It gives us also opportunities to learn more from each other and maybe adapt us to a certain degree to each other. Mutual information concerning all aspects of our international neighbourhood will in such a connection get a growing importance.
This book tries to present basic information of how different countries within the chosen area have tried to solve the problem of establishing suitable systems of steering spatial development by means of planning and implementation measures. For this purpose summary descriptions of the connected formal regulations in each country are given in an appendix while a comparative presentation and discussion forms the main text. Hopefully, this will give the interested reader an overview of the current systems in western Europe, how they have influenced each other but still in many parts differ from each other. Differences may however give impulses to learn and to improve own solutions.
Means for the scrutinising of the English language used are provided by the research council Formas.
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