Planning for justice

A value-based framework to help spatial planners develop just housing strategies in Dutch regions

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The current Dutch housing domain is characterised by injustices on multiple scales, such as a shortage of housing, disparities in well-being across regions, and unaffordable housing. This situation can partially be attributed to spatial planning practices focused on promoting growth-oriented economic thinking. These contemporary planning practices can be argued to be socially and spatially selective and to have a short time horizon. While some injustices remain unresolved, others are exacerbated by contemporary planning practices. The aim of this research has been to develop a justice framework which helps spatial planners address, instead of perpetuate injustices. This is approached through the question: To what extent can a framework based on justice values help spatial planners design for justice in the housing domain in Dutch regions?

This has led to the development of a justice framework constructed from three core justice values: Sufficiency, Limitation and Opportunity. These are made more concrete to the housing domain through two applied values each: (I) Availability and (II) Acceptability for the quantitative and qualitative aspects of Sufficiency; (III) Sustainability and (IV) Moderation dealing with intergenerational justice and intragenerational justice for Limitation; and (V) Influence and (VI) Diversity related to opportunities to assert influence on the living environment and to choose a living environment. These applied values are further specified using housing dimensions and strategy directions in two consecutive rings.

The first advantage for spatial planners is that the justice framework summarises and combines several abstract justice theories into digestible values relevant to the Dutch context. To test and demonstrate the justice framework it has been applied to the case study area of the Regio Stedendriehoek, which enabled answering the research question. First the justice framework helps to structure regional spatial analysis and policy analysis on a wide range of justice values, which can bring to light different types of injustices. Second, based on the analyses, clusters can be made of areas with similar problems regarding the applied values, which helps determine which type of strategies require priority in different areas. Then, based on these priorities, strategies can be developed using the outer ring of the justice framework. The justice framework helps to structure strategy development per applied value, but the justice framework can also be used as a tool to assess whether strategies can contribute to solving injustices for different applied values. In this way fruitful strategies can be prioritised and interventions that cause conflicts between different justice values can be avoided or mitigated.