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Challenges for Spatial Planning in Portugal

JosĂŠ Carlos Mota ( Department of Social Science, Law and Politics University of Aveiro - Portugal

Structure Spatial planning in Portugal • • •

History Spatial planning failure Challenges and expectations of the “new” spatial planning legal framework • New challenges for Spatial Planning

History History has a height determinant in what we are today! Our history is made of wealthy periods (Ancient Colonies – Brazil, Angola, Mozambique,…)- who gave us the spicery, gold, café – but … took the most brave and courage. But it is also made of strong difficulties - Emigration 60’s and 70’s who also sent us their economies/savings but also took the young and active people. In the middle we had 50 years of New State dictatorship (1926-74), without democracy (yesterday we celebrated 35 years since April revolution). Finally, we had (and still have, since 86) the European funds the gave us millions of Euros, but even so we didn’t manage to use them in the correct way. All these have built up our culture and shape our attitude and behaviour…

Why? The history explains also that we had State: Centralized; Bureaucratic; Paternalist attitude; Institutional inertia; short-term concern and fragmented vision - not holistic; disarticulated action -> overlapping actions; Citizens: Dependence from State; fragmented vision; last-minute solutions; Individualism; Corporative; The ability to slap together haphazard solutions (last-minute – non planned) has been key to the survival over the centuries! So, how to develop Planning and Spatial Planning activity in this context?

«There is, in the west part of Iberia, a strange people: they don’t govern themselves and they don’t allow being governed” III Century BC, roman general in a letter to the imperator Gaius Julius Caesar, when Iberia was conquered

Spatial Planning in Portugal breef history

First spatial plans (beginning 20’s century – 30’s)

Barry Parker

Two big cities (Lisbon, Oporto)

urban expansion new avenues – Lisbon (> 60% population, last 2 decades XIX cent.)

destroy old parts city – built new roads – Oporto (inspired in Haussman projects, Paris)


invited foreign urban planners – british and french: Barry Parker (1915), worked with Raymond Unwin in the

project of Letchworth – (1903/04) garden city planed by Ebenezer Howard Forestier (1927), responsible for gardens of Paris (“Bois de Boulogne”), founders of French Urban Planners Association Etienne De Gröer (30/40’), Institute Urbanisme Paris (strong influence in Portuguese architects and civil engineers) Donat-Alfred Agache(30’), influenced the new urban planning legislation (1934); in 20’s he made a very important Urban Plan to Rio Janeiro (Brasil) -> inspired his book “La Remodélation d’une capitale” (1932) no specialist in Portugal -> important to give experience to Portuguese technicians

De Gröer

in 40’s the spatial planning law says… 

urban planning legislation (1934) 

Plans have to take in consideration the adequate criteria of the present and future needs, and the best urban and public health rules; Need to develop cartography (all cities with more 2.500 inhab, with 10% increase in 10 years; cities, turistic and religious centres defined by gov.) Plans have to present public discussion results (be exposed 30 days in the “usual public places”) Plans have to be coordinated by civil engineers or architects

“Having made his civic survey, the student retires, let us say, into the meditative cell. He takes with him a carefully built up store of mental imagery… of the given city and its inhabitants as evolving towards definitive ideals or degenerating towards their negation … (then) the student of sociology re-emerges into the world as civic statesman… The man of action is getting ready, with a programme and policy.” Victor Branford (1914), p. 343

in 50’s the first zoning plans…  

The ambition of a global idea for the city; The separation of the different functions -> “modernist movement” ideas (30’s) The structure and hierarchy of the road system;

Planning in Europe (40/50/60’s)    

II World War Development of Welfare State Planning concerns – Rebuilt cities Rational/Comprehensive Planning -> ‘Survey before plan’ -> (Planner as a ‘neutral expert’)


(60’s) Advocative Planning (Planner as a ‘representant’ of different interests -> answer to social movements)

60’s till 74 

laws/urban plans protected interests (and properties) from important economic groups (industry and finance) -> important families (highly protected economy)

Small investors, emigrants and family savings couldn’t get in housing market

Medium/low class people couldn’t by house in traditional housing market

Problem -> clandestine construction in the periphery/metropolitan areas (without plans.. The “forgotten land”!) ->

But although the last years of dictatorship -> still a strong control over public opinion (censorship) -> the dimension of the problem was not known…

24 April 74 (celebrate 36 years of the “carnation revolution�)

76 – new constitutional law ‌  

1976 -> the new National Constitution -> the first local elections 77 and 79 where published two main diplomas: the first local government law and the local government finance framework; A new culture of management of local affairs was emerging and would be largely shaped by the priority of providing much needed basic services to the population. In this context, spatial planning was not among the priorities on the local political agenda (ROSA PIRES, A, 2005).

in the 80’s the first municipal land use plans 


82 -> Central Government produced new legislation creating a new type of Plan: The Municipal Director Plan (PDM). – This plan embodied several conceptual innovations -> covered the whole municipality; required an explicit socioeconomic strategy to which land use proposals should relate; established rights and mechanisms for public participation. 86 -> CEE – Economic European Community Municipalities where technically ill-equipped to prepare plans and, still, spatial planning was not a political priority

Planning in Europe (70/80’s)   

Margaret Thatcher - Neo-liberal gov. Crisis of Welfare State -> Privatization Planning influence – Deregulation (similar to Rationalist Approach, not the ‘technical/scientific rationality’ but the ‘market rationality’)

Management Theories applied in planning – Strategic Planning (Planner as a ‘manager’)

92 -> Prime Minister Cavaco Silva (actual President) said to municipalities -> no plans -> no European funds

In the 90’s - most significant planning practice in Portugal –

Mainly land use planning at municipal scale (305 Municipal Spatial Plans, 169 Urban Plans, 513 Detail Plans) … but most of the plans kept the characteristics of the traditional urbanization plans, emphasizing land-use regulation and lacking any strategic guidance in terms of development policy

Some experiences in Regional Spatial Planning with a strong normative perspective!

Institutional coordination - spatial planning system in Portugal

National level Ministry of Environment, Spatial Planning and Regional Development ⇒ Directorate-General for Spatial Planning and Urban Development ⇒ National Spatial Planning Programme Regional level No formal regional government; Still, design and implementation of regional development policies & plans carried out by decentralised units of central government – 5 commissions ⇒ Regional Spatial Plans Municipal level Municipal planning & local planning 308 municipalities ⇒ 3 types of plan

Consequences of (the absense of) Planning in Portugal Although we have 300 municipal plans‌ Urban

sprawl, specially in metropolitan areas - urban settlements interpenetrate with green spaces and the urban structure is becoming fragmented and dispersed; The

dispersion causes greater land consumption, greater infrastructure cost and greater number of displacements; Dispersed

building created opportunities to real estate market -> new periphery urban centres Degradation of the

quality of many residential areas- mainly in peripheries and in the old city centres -> housing problems Rural

Areas -> major population loss; great decrease among younger; severely eroded economic base


Spatial Planning in Portugal is really land use plan development (planning is not seen as a continuous process)

Planning instruments (mainly local land use plans) show a great limitation in handling these new realities… – fragile and minimalist agenda – reactive methodology – weak operative condition

failure of spatial plan activity in Portugal

fragile and minimalist agenda – Attempt to control urban growth, land use change and urban form;


fragile and minimalist agenda – Statutory approach - an extreme normative and physical dimension;


fragile and minimalist agenda – No competitiveness, sustainability, social cohesion dimension; POLÍTICO






fragile and minimalist agenda – Absence of a quantitative approach (future urban areas);


fragile and minimalist agenda – Unbalanced - periphery the “forgotten area”.


reactive methodology – Bureaucratic procedure… period of elaboration/approval – 10 years;


reactive methodology – Absence of institutional debate (local, regional and national level);


reactive methodology – No stakeholders involvement‌ a lost opportunity to legitimate proposals;


reactive methodology – No learning process‌ no shared vision!


reactive methodology – No planning process!


weak operative condition – A blueprint approach and largely focussed on the urban or municipal scale‌ not strategic


weak operative condition – Worried about quantitative issues (m2)‌ not with urban quality;


weak operative condition – Reactive, worried about the legal procedure of administrative approval of private projects ‌ not with implementation conditions (how much, who makes and when it is made);


weak operative condition – Rigid character ‌ without the flexible factors essential to deal with a strong investment dynamic and strong competition among cities.


weak operative condition – Plan implementation depends on local administration ‌ without public financial support!


What went wrong? Reasons (PEREIRA, 2003)? – Reactive attitude from municipalities (92 -> money from European founds); close dependence from the private entrepreneurs initiative, without control over land (or land policy); – Disarticulation between different public actors -> the lack of coordination is explained by the fear of loosing the leadership or a leading role; – The absence of a framework for action -> letting spontaneous spatial dynamics occur; lack of political will -> the market leading; – Inefficiency of:  Technical process of elaboration (lack of technical expertise; difficulties of a multi-disciplinary plan ,...),  Institutional supervision process (central/regional administration lack experience in supervising plans, limited number of technicians – 306 municipalities)  Public participation (limited just to the discussion of final proposals – public inquiry).

Planning Europe (90’s)   


Tony Blair – UK – The ‘third way’ The role of State – ‘Governance’ Collaborative and Communicative Planning (‘the planner as a mediator’; involvement of dif. Actors; interactive planning; consensus building; social capital) Europe - ESDP – European Planning Perspective Spatial Planning, not physical planning (‘Sustainable Communities’)

Recent Expectations National  PNPOT – first National Spatial Strategy (2006)  New Urban Policy (2007) Regional  PROT – five Regional Spatial Plans (2007) Municipal  PDM – Local Spatial Plan (after 2007)  Weak financial situation of Local Authorities – but with European funds 2007/2013

Portuguese legal framework (Spatial Planning Framework Law, 1998)

Expectations & results 1999/2010 Expectations (ROSA PIRES,  Clarified the role of the regional and national levels in spatial planning, introducing the PNPOT (National Programme for Spatial Planning Policy),  Defined the types of special plans which are to be prepared under the responsibility of Central Administration but may be focussed on specific areas of national relevance (namely in environmentally sensitive areas, as is the case of the coastal zone).  Tried to consolidate the strategic perspective - a strategic framework to spatial planning - sustainability and intergeneration solidarity and spatial competitiveness;  Reinforced public participation;  Concern with the implementation of plans (how to do it, when, where and with whom) But ‌ the reality!  the issue with greater impact was related with land betterment, an attempt to improve the physical effectiveness of spatial plans.

The future of planning in Portugal? What are the really important questions? Is the law? The instruments - plans? The practice? The planning culture?

Questions to debate 

Why do we need Planning? – Regulate the Physical system / Market / Society? – The role of the State?

What kind of Planning? – Agenda - Economic Recovery / Climate change / Liveability / Social Justice – And what about the old agenda – Sustainability / Competitiveness / Social Cohesion; – Who defines the agenda? Governments/Market? Local/Global level?

What type of Methodological concerns? – Technical Rationality? – Comunication? Participation? – Institutional capacity?

What Instruments/Results? – Spatial/Strategic? – Politics, Plans, Projects (articulation -> process)?

aula 1_Spatial planning in Portugal  
aula 1_Spatial planning in Portugal  

Department of Social Science, Law and Politics Department of Social Science, Law and Politics University of Aveiro University of Aveiro - -...