Better Regulation - Draft Action 8: Specify and monitoring of standardised Planned Land Use data for formal and informal urban planning participation processes

  • Cristina (Commu... profile
    Cristina (Commu...
    5 February 2018 - updated 3 months ago
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Evidence-based decision-making consists of city officials’ expertise, citizen opinions, research-based knowledge and data which together may transform urban planning processes in order to co-create the future of European cities in the smartest possible way. A lot of participatory projects already include digital and analogue methodologies, however the resulting challenge is to integrate online and on-side methodologies – e.g. implementing analogue feedback into digital systems in a coherent, standardised way. Besides INSPIRE Planned Land Use data (PLU) model specification guidelines for standardisation of data of participatory kind are not defined until now, making it difficult for entrepreneurs to create solutions implementable in multiple member states. Digital tools and new technologies are key factors for increasing citizen inclusion (e.g. VR for visualisation, AR for holistic experience, open data for transparency, platforms for data collection and sharing opinions and utilization of me-data and my data) when it comes to urban planning, many cities still lack the finance or knowledge to  implement platforms for (digital) participatory urban planning. At the same time, (private) actors who acquire data in cities are restricted by legal and economic issues (e.g. right of ownership, business models) regarding sharing the data with public authorities for purposes of general interest. Therefore this action is linked to Action 2 Access and reuse of data of general interest from the private sector where access and reuse not only refers to data but to platforms for data collection and storage, as well as software based on artificial intelligence. On the other hand, access and reuse of public data by the private sector needs to be addressed if cities are to act both as enablers of economic growth and as considerers of the consequences related to e.g. security issues.

An important prerequisite for the efficient and cost-effective implementation and operation of e-participation platforms is the usage of standards. This concerns the planning data itself as well as the methods to access these data. Participation platforms normally integrate data produced by different providers, e.g. different communal agencies or private planning companies. Without a standardised format to collect and integrate the data, large effort in data conversion and quality control has to be spent. In general the participation of public authorities, public agencies and general public in preparation of a land-use (zoning) plan has the following aims:

  • to broaden consideration documents (information function),
  • to increase participation of general public in the long, mid-, and short term urban planning and design processes (strengthening democracy),
  • to speed up the participatory urban planning and design processes (enabling competitiveness),
  • to improve influence in planning processes (legal protection),
  • to raise the acceptance of planning projects.


For the exchange of digital planning data between actors involved in planning processes, as well as for the internet-based visualisation of planning data to potential users, a digital harmonised data exchange format is needed. Within the implementation of EU INSPIRE directive an infrastructure for spatial information in the European community for the purposes of community environmental policies and policies or activities which may have an impact on the environment has to be built until end 2020. This European directive, lists 34 relevant thematic fields, segmented into three packages (Annex I – Annex III). Existing digital data belonging to one or more of these themes has to be transformed in an INSPIRE standardised data model and provided as internet based standardised viewing and download services. One of these themes addresses existing and planned land use: Existing Land Use (ELU), which objectively depicts the use and functions of a territory as it has been and effectively still is in real life, and Planned Land Use (PLU), which corresponds to spatial plans, defined by spatial planning authorities, depicting the possible utilization of the land in the future.

For example, within the implementation of EU INSPIRE directive PLU data format aims at representing the results of planning processes in Europe-wide standardised, semantically enriched data format. In addition, it is necessary to define guideline for providing spatial planning data in informal and formal participation processes and develop a transferable model for setting up a participatory urban planning platform. The model will look at financial possibilities (Action no 13), content (Action no 2) and capacity building among city officials (Action 3). Capacity building and spreading of pilots in regions and cities. In detail, the purpose is to increase knowledge in new types of data and how to use it for urban analytics with the help of research partners contributing to the methods and long term strategic inquiries and impact analyses). It is necessary to analyse whether the use of the INSPIRE PLU data model is able to comply the described necessity for digital harmonised data models and data exchange format for spatial land use (zoning) plans in cities. It should also be explored as to whether the PLU data model supports the installation of e-government services (e.g. participation und monitoring services) in spatial planning and building action fields.


To identify the specific obstacles and particular requirements using the PLU data model in cities. Should member states which have not implemented mandatory national digital data standards for spatial land use plans, adopt PLU data model also in a national context? Should the PLU data model be extended or must a specific PLU data model profile be defined supporting the installation of e-government participation and monitoring services in spatial planning and building action fields? Is it necessary to supplement or extend existing EU INSPIRE regulation? Until now legal binding spatial land use or zoning plans represented in digital data formats has not had any legal effect. Is it necessary to define regulation on EU level to ensure digital planning data is legally binding? Should national code lists e.g. for specific national zoning regulations according to national building code, be published in registries in multiple official languages? In this case, it would be possible to compare land use regulations in a detailed level between European cities. The European Single Market is also strengthened because the different city land use strategies will be transparent.

At the end of the action, it will be evident if INSPIRE PLU data model is useful as a standardised data model and data exchange standard for plan preparation and participation procedure and legal binding land use plans in European cities or what actions has to be done to achieve this goal. The outcome may be that PLU is not suitable, in this case guidelines for the development of national data standards for spatial land use plans should be defined in order to guarantee  whether this type of plan with its regulations can be interoperable and secure provided as web services.

An additional output of the action is a model for successfully implementing participatory long, mid- and short term urban planning with regard to standardisation of data, capacity building and financing. The side effects are transforming urban planning processes and a changing role of urban authorities by enabling innovation and multilevel collaboration. Results of urban planning based on this model are more democratic since they also build upon both citizen opinions and data on the silent majority.


Standardisation of data aspect:

  • Analyse the use of PLU data model in European cities
  • Define monitoring technique for PLU data for analysing comparable land use indicators (e.g. density) for cities 
  • Analyse existing national and EU regulations, and data models for providing digital legal spatial land use plans on city level
  • Analyse what level of information (meta data / data model) in digital spatial land use plans is needed to establish e-government services (e.g. electronic building application / participatory processes in urban planning / land use monitoring ..)
  • Analyse national regulations to ensure digital planning data are legally binding
  • Analyse weak points in PLU data model

Participatory urban planning aspect:

  1. Involve stakeholders/partners: cities (preconditions, needs), businesses (needs, solutions) and academia (research, impact)
  2. A possible testbed: the ongoing eGovernment-project DIPAS (Digital Participation System) in the city of Hamburg as a prototype for a participatory urban planning platform
  3. Collaborate closely with actions 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 and 13:
  • MyData in digital transition (Action 9).
  • Development of business model assessment frame for cities (Action 13).
  • Helping cities develop a user-centric eGovernment model (Action 4).
  • Building innovation and dissemination accelerator (Action 10).
  • Support agile experimentation of emerging digital technologies (Action 11).
  • Capacity-building and spreading of pilots in regions and cities (Action 3).
  • Digital neighbourhood instrument (Action 2).


  • Preparation: 2018 Q2 Involving stakeholders/partners.
  • Implementation: 2018 Q3 – 2019 Q3.
  • Assessment: 2019 Q4.

Action leader

Hamburg and Helsingborg.


  • Eurocities / ISOCARP (international society of city and regional planners).
  • Cities & countries: cities involved in the Digital transition partnership / Eurocities.
  • Contact with relevant networks such as the working group on CitizenCity in the Citizen.Focus Action Cluster under the European Innovation Partnership for Smart Cities and Communities developed a societal engagement toolkit and a digital platform for place based citizen engagement.

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