At its May meeting in Oslo the AESOP Council of Representatives chose the joint bid from the University of Utrecht and TU Delft to host the Annual Congress of AESOP in July 2014. See

http://www.aesop2014.eu

The proposal presented by Professors Luuk Boelens and Vincent Nadin offered the combined strengths of the two institutions – a large body of staff working from the socio-geography perspective at Utrecht and urbanism and governance at Delft. At Delft the Chair of Spatial Planning, the Department of Urbanism and the Urban and Regional Development Group of the OTB research institute will be involved. The Congress will be supported by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, other planning authorities and the Netherlands Conventions Board. The last AESOP congress to be held in the Netherlands was in Nijmegen in 1997. Since then the Dutch planning system has undergone radical reform.

The theme for the conference will be ‘from control to co-evolution’, exploring the transition of spatial planning from an emphasis on technocratic control of urban development to the collaborative shaping of the territory. In north-west Europe this transition has been underway for many years, but the conference will consider to what extent planning education and practice have really addressed the challenge of co-evolution. It will engage with novel ideas about planning that have emerged from theories of spatial complexity, self-organisation, actor-oriented and collaborative governance, relational space and other positions. These theoretical developments must be set against the retreat of the state in many countries including the Netherlands, where planning is being decentralised to lower levels and national administrations concentrate on questions of economic competitiveness.

The main conference will be held completely at the campus of Utrecht University with its access to a wide range of accommodation. TU Delft will host the AESOp PhD workshop and mobile workshops. We are also considering holding a further short conference after the AESOP event designed to bring practitioners and academics together.

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