In Europe
The audience awaits the speakers while a man is holding a speech.
Introduction by Gert Nys, deputy director of © Yannick Coppens -SPRB-GOB

“Should I stay or should I go: Urban sprawl, density, and a new planning agenda for Europe”: A European seminar on urban planning

As part of the Belgian presidency of the EU,, the regional reference centre of expertise for regional and territorial development in Brussels, aims to foster collaboration between public agencies and municipal urban planning departments across Europe. To achieve this, they organised a European seminar for urban planning agencies on 29 and 30 May on the subject of urban sprawl and qualitative density.

Common challenges…

When faced with crises and challenges, urban planners must adapt and rethink concepts and amend models. This includes:

  • How can we move from a quantitative to a qualitative density, which would take into account natural resources and their circularity?
  • How can we build a city with several activity centres and enable urban flows to be better spread out?
  • What spatial strategies may help promote the more sustainable use of land and facilitate a shift towards a more balanced territorial development that maintains green, blue and open spaces in urban areas? has organised a European seminar to answer all these questions.

A group poses in front of a camera.

Group photo of seminar participants. © Yannick Coppens -SPRB-GOB

… And different strategies

When faced with common challenges, strategies sometimes differ. The seminar allowed for the presentation and collection of different approaches, and provided an opportunity to compare the different methods that can be used to observe the area, the different data and ideas, and to envisage collaborations. Another aim of the seminar was to learn from each other.

The seminar explored the theme of urban sprawl and qualitative density in three dimensions:

  • New ways of urban living and urban dwelling
  • Green, blue and grey: combining a built environment with nature
  • Planning tools for the sound governance of the city

To gather inspiring European projects related to these themes, perspective launched a call for contributions in 2023 related to these three themes. Following this call, 19 projects were selected to be presented in a publication titled “Should I stay or should I go? Urban sprawl, density, and a new planning agenda for Europe.”

People sit around tables during a workshop.

The programme includes several workshops. © Yannick Coppens -SPRB-GOB
People sit in front of a screen and listen to a speaker.
Another group follows a presentation on urban planning. © Yannick Coppens -SPRB-GOB

The event is also accompanied by an exhibition that opened on 29 May 2024 at perspective ‘s ‘Lab’ space, rue de Namur 59, 1000 Brussels.

The publication is available here