The enlargement of local power in trans-scalar strategies of planning: Recent tendencies in two European cases

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The increasing ‘trans-scalar’ conditions of urbanity imply unique opportunities and threats for urban policies. When drawing up strategic urban policies, cities are confronted with the dominance of higher level policy programmes and even more so with the hegemonic power of globalizing markets. Could urban policies also undergo a similar change and actively pursue the enlargement of local power and energies by becoming actively involved in the higher level scaled networks? By building on useful concepts of urban regime theory and more recent rescaling theories, the authors argue that this element of ‘foreign policy’ should be integrated in the core analysis of urban policy approaches. The case is explored and illustrated in two European examples of strategic urban planning, namely Barcelona and Copenhagen. The cases provide evidence of the enlargement of local power via active trans-scalar policies. For civic groups, however, this strategy still appears to be a bridge too far in both cases.

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