Degrowth in city planning
This paper summarises the key arguments of degrowth thinking and examines their validity in a city planning setting. The paper argues that much of the reorientation work that is necessary to meet the goals of international climate change conventions needs to be carried out locally, in urban and regional settings, and this creates pressure to renew land-use planning practices. It also argues that in light of the latest carbon footprint studies the currently popular linking of urban planning motives with the doctrine of ‘compactness policy’ – which aims at urban core densification and accumulation of growth options – needs to be re-evaluated. The empirical part of the paper focuses on the inner city planning of Joensuu, a city in Eastern Finland with 75,000 inhabitants which has increasingly been criticised by some residents, civil servants and civic action groups for one-sided promotion of the central city. This is, according to critics, taking place at the cost of the surrounding countryside and peri-urban nodes. The paper illustrates how the ‘tactics of growth’ become manifest in the official local planning procedure and to what degree the planning critique, explicitly or implicitly, leans on degrowth concerns. The gathering of the empirical material progressed as part of my involvement in the local degrowth movement, Kohtuusliike, which actively participated in the preparation of the Central Joensuu General Plan 2012.
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