Participatory Green Structure Planning for Linking Urban and Rural Landscapes - A Case Study from Ronneby, Sweden

Helena Mellqvist, Lone Søderkvist Kristensen, Cecil Konijnendijk van den Bosch


Green structure planning has mainly been an instrument for urban planning as well as for developing and managing urban green spaces and green structures. This paper explores the potential of green structure planning for urban-rural integration in landscape development. This is studied for the case of a municipality-wide planning project in Ronneby, southern Sweden. Applying a policy and governance arrangement model, the paper investigates the social and inclusive dimensions of the proposed planning approach. The working method for developing Ronnebys green structure plan has been highly participatory, aimed at creating a visionary document in which the respective qualities of rural and urban areas are mutually strengthening. Walk-and-talks were arranged with local connoisseurs across the municipality for identifying the most important places, routes, and landmarks in their respective village and its surrounding. These connoisseurs, in this case representatives from local associations, helped explore whether the green structure planning instrument can also contribute to a sense of belonging, strengthening the relations between people and their everyday landscape at a municipal level. Results show that a collaborative planning process supported a broad learning process on green structure by the involvement of the local connoisseurs, municipal staff and politicians. The long time span and repeated meetings were important for raising awareness of the potential in visionary green structure plans. Findings not only support the continued municipal planning process; they also contribute to the current debate on how green infrastructure can be applied as an interdisciplinary concept covering e.g. green space spatial pattern, aesthetic values, biological diversity, and ecosystem services.

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