The recently published final report of the ESPON RISE (Region Integrated Strategies in Europe) provides a toolkit and policy recommendations for the preparation of integrated regional development strategies. The project included case studies from four European regions: the Randstad (NL), West Midlands (UK), Västerbotten (SE), and Zealand (DK). Indeed as a Priority 2: Targeted Analysis Project the initial concept came from policy-makers within each of these regions. Interestingly, the report refers to the concept of extended policy territories which cover regional spaces which extend beyond the boundaries of administrative regions. These are illustrated from the perspective of Zealand Region (below) where overlapping policy territories at multiple scales are identified.
(source: ESPON RISE Final Region, p. 43)
This concept of policy territories as employed here, corresponds to what we refer to as soft spaces in the current research project ‘Soft Spaces, Spatial Planning and Territorial Management in Europe’ led by HafenCity University Hamburg (see for also recent conference papers here). Soft spaces can provide new innovative opportunities for regional development and thinking ‘outside the box’, but in some cases also raise issues of democratic legitimacy and accountability.