Richardson, Tim and Jensen, Ole B. (2004) The Europeanisation of Spatial Planning in Britain: New Spatial Ideas for Old Territories? In: UNSPECIFIED, Sheffield, UK.
[Introduction]. This paper explores the representation of European space in images, and the significance of these images in building and reproducing policy discourses of European space. Landmark and less well known images of European spatial relations are discussed, from representations of trans-European infrastructure networks to the iconic 'bananas' and 'grapes', which articulate European spatial concepts such as polycentricity in image form. These are seen to create a challenging context for more localised planning processes, and the case of South Yorkshire is used to illustrate how the ideas and images representing alternative spatial futures are becoming Europeanised. Images are understood as elements of an emerging transnational spatial policy discourse, and so are analysed in the context of contestation over meanings, played out in policy debates, in documentation and in other practices of spatial planning. In particular we concentrate on how images are used together with textual references and discussions to form a persuasive component of spatial discourse. We therefore analyse these representations of space as contested, rather than as the outputs of rational spatial analysis. The aim is to reveal the underlying rationales of different framings of space and spatial relations, leading to insights into the ways in which such images are playing an increasingly important role in foregrounding certain ways of thinking about European space and mobility whilst bracketing others. Our analysis suggests that whilst iconic representations of European space articulate an apparently unified view of European development, they also embody major unresolved tensions at the heart of the spatial development strategy, in particular between competing configurations of urban and regional development and mobility. Depending on their interpretation, the images can be seen as capturing the tensions between flows and places, and between underlying rationalities of cohesion and competition. Overall, the paper argues that whilst the use of images in EU spatial policy discourse succeeds in strongly visioning a polycentric Europe of flows, it also (perhaps unintentionally) reproduces the uncertainties, conflicts and tensions which surround this vision. The paper concludes with a discussion of how such use of images can contribute to the formation of a European identity.
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