Managing and controlling diffuse urbanisation in France: Spatial planning practices in cross-border city-regions


  • Camille Le Bivic Université Gustave Eiffel
  • Joël Idt Université Gustave Eiffel



Spatial planning practices, territorial governance, land take, land use instrument, cross-border areas



Managing and controlling “land take” of agricultural and natural land for urbanisation is the target of European and national policies. Although this objective seems to be increasingly understood among the actors, the prioritisation of issues and the measures taken by governments to achieve it are very heterogeneous. The practices of local public and private actors do not necessarily follow the directions established at national level by the instruments. This paper examines the concrete forms, in France, of collective action in the field of spatial planning to limit land take, particularly in French cross-border areas that are experiencing strong urban growth. The survey is based on 60 semi-structured interviews with public actors involved in the spatial transformations of the cross-border regions around Geneva, Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai, Luxembourg and Strasbourg-Karlsruhe. The survey shows that collective action in spatial planning is very diverse in France, depending on the regions and municipalities concerned, even if the legal rules are the same. Local public actors play strategically with the rules and adapt them. Moreover, the organisation of collective action to limit land take is marked by interdependencies between regions, and in our case between neighbouring countries, which are often left unexamined in national planning policies and instruments.


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Issue publication date 2023-12-29 (version 2)
Published online first 2023-09-21 (version 1)




Research Article

How to Cite

Le Bivic C, Idt J. Managing and controlling diffuse urbanisation in France: Spatial planning practices in cross-border city-regions. RuR [Internet]. 2023 Dec. 29 [cited 2024 Jul. 18];81(6):605-19. Available from: