• Lasse Schytt Nørgaard
  • Jakob Hasselgreen
  • Morten Kirkeby Petersen
Rural areas are challenged by continuous urbanisation as people move towards the bigger
cities. This puts many rural areas in a state of shrinkage, characterised by a self-reinforcing
loop of out-migration. Planning is not adequately suited to address these issues as it has
become increasingly growth-centric over the past decades. Because of this planners of rural
areas are confronted with the ever relevant question of what to plan for if not growth.

Bottom-up reliant approaches are presented as the main solution, which in planning theory
relates to ideas of communicative and collaborative planning. These are supplemented by
theories of political-administrative systems, interactive governance, and metagovernance
are utilised in an effort to understand the inherent possibilities and limitations of different
approaches to governance. This leads to the research question How can a municipality
transform their governance approach related to the strategic planning of rural communities,
in order to better cope with, or even utilise a state of shrinkage?, which is researched in
the context of Vesthimmerlands Municipality.

Critical realism is applied as the meta-theoretical approach as it shapes the understanding
of what can be researched and how. Institutional theory is applied in order to investigate
how planning under shrinkage is different from the established contemporary practices.
This is supplemented by the use of metagovernance as a tool for reflecting on how and for
what reasons practices such as citizen collaboration are carried out.

The conclusion is that the first step in transforming the governance approach is to
acknowledge shrinkage, and the next is to establish a system of urban governance that
encourages bottom-up initiatives and empowers citizens in order to create a sense of
ownership that can guide future development.
SpecialisationUrban Planning and Management
Publication date4 Jun 2020
Number of pages112
ID: 333559391