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Department of Spatial Planning

VALPLAN | Values and evaluation in political spatial planning processes

The task of urban and regional planning is to shape the future (spatial) development of a city in line with social goals and to find forward-looking solutions for the future distribution of population, land uses and resources. For this, planners develop suitable planning concepts, taking into account the various interests of individuals, groups or institutions and considering all public and private concerns fairly. This always includes the development of planning alternatives.

Overall, there have been only a few (empirically-based) studies that analyse consideration processes or the selection of planning alternatives, or examine how certain decisions in consideration processes influence the evaluation of planning alternatives. This leaves open how planners deal with values in planning processes; this includes in particular the evaluation of problems and the development of goals and alternative solutions. It is also unclear which methods are used in processes of alternative selection and evaluation and with which results. Ultimately, this also raises the question of how planners understand their role.

Duration: 01.12.2021 - 30.11.2024


Although the phase of alternative evaluation and selection has a fixed place in the classical planning process model, it is sometimes no longer explicitly named in more recent planning theory approaches and often remains unexamined as a "black box" in many empirical studies from planning practice. With this background, VALPLAN concentrates on the following guiding questions: 

  • How does the consideration and alternatives evaluation and selection take place in practice? What does the process of consideration and alternatives evaluation involve? How is variety dealt with methodically in planning processes? How do values enter into this?
  • Which individual and institutionalised values play a role in consideration processes? How do planners and other actors in planning processes deal with (divergent) value issues? How do collective value and aggregation processes take place and which methods have which functions?
  • Which meaning, function, effects, advantages and disadvantages do the different methods used have in terms of dealing with alternatives? How does the given setting influence the use of methods for evaluating and considering alternatives? How can evaluation and decision-making methods be developed within this framework?


The project approaches this topic with different quantitative and qualitative methods which complement each other. On the one hand, experiments are conducted with student subjects under relatively tightly controlled conditions: The experiments are based on fictitious planning situations and are intended, on the one hand, to provide comparative insights into the use and effect of methods for evaluating alternatives; on the other hand, the experiments analyse the role of individual and institutionalised values in students' decisions. In addition, up to eight ex-post case studies will be conducted from both area-oriented legally binding planning and project-oriented development planning.The case studies will show how planning alternatives are handled in practice under politically set framework conditions and what role individual and institutional values play in the consideration processes that ultimately lead to decisions. Finally, as a third, complementary methodological component, focus group discussions with practitioners are planned. These will contribute to simulate the effect of the use of planning methods under specific conditions and to elaborate and reflect on the value concepts and dimensions of planners during the evaluation of alternatives. 


Project Partners & Funding

Joined Partner

  • Prof. Dr. Christian Diller, Institut für Geographie, Bereich Raumplanung und Stadtgeographie der Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

Funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Projektnummer 463567980).


Contact Partners

TU Dortmund University
Department of Spatial Planning
Urban and Regional Planning
Sabine Bongers-Römer, M.Sc.

TU Dortmund University
Department of Spatial Planning
Urban and Regional Planning
Julija Bakunowitsch, M.Sc.
TU Dortmund University
Department of Spatial Planning
Urban and Regional Planning
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Frank Othengrafen
Justus-Liebig-University Gießen
Department of Geography
Spatial Planning and Urban Geography
Christin Müller, M.Sc.