Strategic Spatial Planning at the Regional and Local Scales: A Case Study of the Dublin City-Region

The PhD thesis was completed at the School of Geography, Plnning and Environmental Policy, University College Dublin between September 2006 and June 2010. It was supervised by Dr. Brendan Williams and Dr. Declan Redmond and examined by Prof. Greg Lloyd of University of Ulster, School of the Built Environment.

The core focus of the PhD was a critical appraisal of  the emergence of practices of strategic spatial planning for the Dublin city-region over the period 1990-2010.

Publications stemming from the PhD have been published in Progress in Irish Urban Studies, Irish Geography, the Journal of Irish Urban Studies, European Planning Studies, International Planning Studies and Urban Research and Practice.They have covered a diverse range of topics including space and spatiality, international comparative studies, GIS conformance analysis of spatial plans land-use mapping and demography.


This thesis examines the evolution of strategic spatial planning in practice through a case study of the Dublin city-region. The concept of strategic spatial planning seeks to describe an apparent broadening of the policy domain of spatial planning from a narrow focus on land-use regulation to a concern with achieving coordination across the spatial dimensions of a wide range of sectoral policies and practices. A significant number of studies have traced the emergence of a new spatial planning approach at both transnational and national scales in particular. This study focuses, more specifically, on the performance of regional and local scale spatial strategies in practice and the changing relationship between strategic plans, the formal planning and development system and other sectoral policies. Employing both quantitative GIS and qualitative interview methodologies the thesis evaluates the actual and potential capacity of spatial planning strategies in the Dublin city-region to both guide the spatial distribution of development and provide a focus for policy coordination in relation to infrastructure provision. Through the elaboration of a politicalinstitutional theoretical approach to the study of spatial planning in practice the thesis focuses on the influence of institutional and political context on the performance of spatial plans. The thesis presents evidence of a very significant divergence between spatial planning policy objectives articulated in regionalscale spatial planning strategies and actual patterns of spatial development. It is found, however, that the capacity of regional-scale planning strategies to influence decision-making has increased over time. It is concluded that a shift to strategic spatial planning in practice in the Dublin city-region requires a reconfiguration of governance cultures and potentially institutional structures and should not be viewed as a one-dimensional process of legislative or policy change.

The thesis is available to download here


One thought on “PhD

  1. My PhD was about Basque, Dublin and Portland comparative City-Region territorial benchmarking. The Book was published by the Basque Government’s Presidency, and there is a small Executive Summary here published by Innobasque, Basque Innovation Agency.
    It would be great collaborating in our common research topic. Thanks.
    Dr Igor Calzada
    University of Oxford (UK)
    Future of Cities Programme.

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