Approaches to planning urban infill on Finnish large housing estates

Hanna Kosunen, Sari Hirvonen-Kantola & Helka-Liisa Hentilä

In a Finnish urban planning and development context, urban infill is considered an appropriate means to enhance sustainable urban structure. Many large housing estates (lähiö) on the fringes of urban core areas in Finland possess physical potential for urban infill but have not attracted investments for this. The article examines various approaches to the urban infill planning for such large housing estates, in which the prerequisites for development must be created to accomplish the strategic vision for urban infill.

1. Introduction

The development of the built environment in large housing estates is considered as a way to fight urban sprawl and segregation, as well as to increase the quality of the environment for the residents. The development is also expected to encourage renovation of existing real estate properties, which form a considerable proportion of Finnish national wealth. (Ministry of Environment 2014a, 7; 2014b, 136–137.) The Ministry of the Environment has suggested urban infill as one tool to accomplish urban development. The municipalities have the responsibility of land-use planning in their territory, and therefore they are the primary institutions for urban infill planning (Ministry of Environment 2014a, 7–8; Puustinen 2016, 80). Regional reform is underway in Finland, and the tasks of the municipalities will change as the provision of welfare services is shifted to regional level. It is predicted that the built environment will become an even more valuable asset for the Finnish municipalities. This demands shifting the strategic focus also to the built environment in less attractive areas. (Rakennetun omaisuuden tila ROTI 2017, 74–77.)

At the same time, urban infill may not be a viable means of urban development in areas with a disadvantageous location or low housing prices (Nykänen et al. 2013, 50–51), even though the urban structure may demand such a solution. Moreover, because the sites are typically owned by or rented to housing companies, urban infill development would require cooperation among numerous actors (Ministry of Environment 2014b, 135–136; Nykänen et al. 2013, 49). In areas that do not automatically attract urban infill development, Finnish municipalities face a situation in which new possibilities for urban infill should be created in order to use it as means to accomplish their strategic vision for urban development.

In this article, we discuss the various approaches to urban infill planning that urban planners in Finnish municipalities have selected, in diverse contexts. The theoretical background and research strategy are presented in Section 2, and methods and material in Section 3. Our results are presented in Section 4, in which the approaches to urban infill planning for Finland’s large housing estates are examined and the outcomes arising from each of the approaches are discussed. Finally, in Section 5, we discuss the usefulness of identifying the approaches in planning practice.

2. Theoretical background: Approaches to planning

For the concept of planning approaches applied here, we rely on a theory presented by Brindley, Rydin, and Stoker (1996), who categorized approaches to urban planning on the basis of the market situation of the area and the market-orientation of planning. One extreme stance in market‑oriented planning is the market-critical planning that seeks to redress imbalances and inequalities created by the market itself. At the other end of the continuum is market-led planning designed to correct inefficiencies by supporting market processes. (Brindley et al. 1996, 9.) Brindley and his colleagues distinguish planning approaches based on how much market-based developers show interest in the area. In areas where development initiatives are not automatic, urban planners may adopt planning approaches aimed at creating possibilities for development. These approaches are also characterized by their relationship to various institutions, such as local planning authorities, local communities, or private-sector actors. (Brindley et al. 1996, 9.)

The categorization presented by Brindley and colleagues can also be seen to reflect the development of planning theory (Allmendinger 2009, 229–231). According to Taylor (1998, 128), ideological issues such as the market-orientation of planning became topical when planners and planning theorists started to consider the implementation of urban plans and policies. Lindblom´s criticism (1959) on the idea of comprehensiveness in the rational planning model became influential. He proposed a disjointed incremental model of planning which would match better to the reality of planning practice (Taylor 1998, 112–113; Allmendinger 2009, 141–143). Furthermore, although the rational planning model included also rational implementation and evaluation, attention in the 1960s was focused on the earlier phases of the model – policymaking or planning (Taylor 1998, 111–112). Taylor (1998, 113–115; 118) refers to Friedmann (1969), who accordingly, criticized taking the phases of the rational planning model into separate steps, which in turn isolated the plan-making from the implementation. Friedmann called for an action-planning model in which plan-making, implementation, and assessment would be considered simultaneously, such that planning would have more positive power to make things happen. Etzioni (1967) developed a mixed-scanning method, in which the rational process view and incremental view were combined. In this approach, planners perform incrementally at operational level but are able to shift their focus to strategic level and to check their planning objectives when it is necessary.

When considering the implementation, it had to be acknowledged that the planning’s objectives require public planners to cooperate with other actors, such as market players (Taylor 1998, 116–117). Since other actors did not necessarily have the same objectives as public planners, there was a question, how much should one compromise in order to get plans implemented (Taylor 1998, 127). In planning theory, critical theorists have brought up the need to view planning as an operation in the context of market economy, and they are concerned about the limitations this imposes on planning (Taylor 1998, 126–127). The proponents of a market-led ideology, in turn, have found desirable a situation in which planning supports market processes (Allmendinger 2009, 117). Communicative planning theory accepts a need to negotiate with developers for the implementation but highlights the planner’s responsibility for advancing the democratic ideals and opening up the planning process to all interested parties (Taylor 1998, 125, 127–128; Forester 1989, ref. Allmendinger 2009, 138–139). The ideals of communicative planning theory have been most influential on the Finnish urban planning (Puustinen et al. 2017).

Recently, creating prerequisites for development that would not otherwise exist, has been discussed under the concept of strategic spatial planning. According to Albrechts (2004; 2015), traditional land-use planning can be characterized as regulative and reactive by nature. It is able to create solutions only to problems that are present in the current situation. By contrast, the aim in strategic spatial planning is visioning the future of what the place might become (Albrechts 2015). According to Albrechts, the processes of strategic spatial planning are aimed at creating the vision for the future, selecting long- and short-time actions, and involving the relevant stakeholders for implementation. The vision creation and also selecting the actions and actors are openly discussed in public. (See Albrechts 2004; 2010; 2015). Thus, the strategic vision takes into account the possibilities of the specific context, in which planning is performed (Albrechts & Balducci 2013; Oosterlynck et al. 2011). However, Moulaert (2011) and Albrechts (2015) also highlight that strategic spatial planning, in which the objectives of planning and the means for implementation are strategically selected, can never be objective or value-free. Therefore, they stress that the strategic spatial planners should take on the responsibility to make the implicit values explicit.

Planning that considers implementation can emphasize market-led or market-critical approaches. However, it is less often discussed, how well the different approaches solve different planning problems (Allmendinger 2009, 231). Both Taylor (1998, 143) and Allmendinger (2009, 230–231) have referred to the market-critical and market-led planning approaches presented by Brindley and his colleagues as examples of local planning authorities’ attempt to adjust their planning measures in order to meet better the requirements of a certain space and time. Schönwandt suggests that the market-critical and market-led approaches represent different world-views through which each planning task is framed (Schönwandt 2008, 36; see also Schönwandt et al. 2013, 130). The approach to planning has an influence on how the planning problem is defined and on what measures are taken to solve it. Therefore, identifying the planning approach helps to extend the search space toward new solutions (Schönwandt et al. 2013, 119–134).

The starting point for our research strategy is the fact that in Finland, municipalities are given the responsibility for land-use planning and they must also handle their own expenses and income. Hence, they are independent actors, and their activities range from strategic spatial planning to the statutory land-use planning. The independent position of Finnish municipalities enables them to adjust their planning measures and to adopt specific values that guide their urban policies and strategic spatial planning. (Hirvonen-Kantola & Mäntysalo 2014.)

We next discuss the various approaches to urban infill planning in the Finnish context, in which urban infill development is regarded as a tool to implement the strategic vision of sustainable urban development, and in which municipalities are leading the spatial planning process. We proceed from the idea that different planning approaches provide different solutions to planning problems, and also characterize the actors that are expected to take part in planning: public planners, private developers, or local actors. As an analytical framework, we use three planning approaches presented by Brindley, Rydin, and Stoker (1996): popular planning, based on planning with the local actors; leverage planning, based on public–private partnerships; and public-investment planning in which public authorities handle the implementation also (Brindley et al. 1996, 9–11).

However, since the context of urban development in Finland today differs remarkably from that in the United Kingdom in the 1980s, when Brindley and colleagues were writing, we take these planning approaches, presented in Table 1, only as a conceptual framework to form the units of analysis for our research. Here, our research question is this: What approaches to planning of urban infill can be identified on Finnish large housing estates?

Table 1: The conceptual framework: Planning approaches (derived from Brindley et al. 1996, 9)
Table 1: The conceptual framework: Planning approaches (derived from Brindley et al. 1996, 9)

3. Research methods and data

Our research methods consisted of semi-structured interviews for data-collection and theory-guided content analysis (Tuomi & Sarajärvi 2009) as means of interpretation. These methods are considered suitable in qualitative research designed for understanding different conceptions of the phenomenon studied (Hirsjärvi & Hurme 2008, 35; Tuomi & Sarajärvi 2009, 104). The interviews were conducted during the research project Eheyttämisen edellytykset (‘Preconditions for Integrative Urban Redevelopment’) in fall 2014 and spring 2015. The aim of the project was to examine the preconditions for urban infill projects on Finland’s large housing estates. The assumption was that in these areas development initiatives are scarce, and therefore, urban infill development would benefit from area-based cooperation between local actors such as housing cooperatives, parties in the private sector, and municipalities seeking to create the conditions for new development. The main topics of the interviews were the cooperation in planning of urban infill initiatives and the challenges they entail in areas where development initiatives are not automatic.

Altogether 15 interviews were carried out by telephone. Their average length was 45 minutes. The interviewees, selected for their expertise in the topic, included urban planners from the cities of Vantaa, Helsinki, Oulu, and Tampere. All these cities have the strategic aim of promoting urban infill in their existing housing areas (see, for example, City of Vantaa 2014, 14–17; City of Helsinki 2017, 10–11; City of Oulu 2016, 16–21; 25; City of Tampere 2011). Also, representatives from The Ministry of the Environment, the Finnish Real Estate Federation, and the Finnish Association of Building Owners and Construction Clients were interviewed. These organizations had recently participated in public discussion on the urban infill practices in Finland (see, for example, Ministry of the Environment 2014a; 2014b; Nykänen et al. 2013; RAKLI ry 2015). In addition, because the research project was designed to investigate possibilities for area-based cooperation in urban infill planning, representatives of local property maintenance (alueellinen kiinteistöhuoltoyhtiö) that had already participated in urban development activities for large housing estates were interviewed.

The conceptual framework of planning approaches was selected because it was considered suitable for describing multiple approaches to urban infill development in the Finnish context, in which municipalities are able to develop their own planning practices. The interviews were conducted before we chose this framework, so the discussion was not guided by it. In addition, the suitability of the framework was evaluated in collaboration with practitioners. In our research project, we cooperated with the City of Oulu, which was simultaneously carrying out an urban renewal project for the Kaukovainio housing estate as a part of its strategy of promoting urban infill in existing housing areas (City of Oulu 2016, 16–21; 25). At one of the project’s steering-group meetings, we held a workshop, in which we presented our conceptual framework to the planners. We asked them to reflect on planning of urban infill for Kaukovainio in terms of the various planning approaches. In this article, we refer to the discussion at this workshop as empirical material, together with the interviews.

The Interviews and the workshop discussion were recorded and transcribed. The material was analyzed with theory-guided content analysis. Here, the analysis is guided by an external theory, but the focus is not on theory development. Rather, the aim is to develop new viewpoints to the phenomenon under study (Tuomi & Sarajärvi 2009, 96–97). The three planning approaches were selected as units of analysis, and the material was searched for expressions referring to them. However, material arranged by means of content analysis cannot be presented as results without drawing meaningful conclusions (Tuomi & Sarajärvi 2009, 103). Therefore, in the next section, we present findings in light of recent urban-planning research in the Finnish context. Extracts from the interviews are used as exemplifying cases, but not to reinforce the theoretical argumentation (Tuomi & Sarajärvi 2009, 22).

4. Results: Approaches to urban infill planning

We proceed by presenting the three approaches to urban infill planning in Finland’s large housing estates, and we discuss the outcomes from each of these approaches.

4.1 Popular planning: Planning with the local property-owners

Brindley, Rydin, and Stoker present popular planning as a market-critical approach to planning in areas where possibilities for urban development must be created. The aim in popular planning is to support urban development that enhances the existing local community. In popular planning, the objectives for the development are created jointly with the local residents and interest groups, who also participate in the execution. (Brindley et al. 1996, 17–20.) According to Taylor (1998, 151–152), the concept of popular planning emerged as an alternative to market-led urban development in the United Kingdom in the 1980s, while the urban planning by the central government was geared towards market-led ideology. In Finland, the starting points for urban planning are very different: the role of independent municipalities is strong, and participatory planning is a general objective of the Finnish Land Use and Building Act (Land Use and Building Act 1999/132 §1; Jääskeläinen & Syrjänen 2010, 110–111). Nevertheless, it has been pointed out that the actual purpose of citizens’ participation is not always obvious in urban planning and decision making (see Bäcklund & Mäntysalo 2010).

For Finland’s large housing estates, local actors’ participation is important for urban development also from the perspective of land-ownership. Because sites, owned or managed by the housing cooperatives (asunto-osakeyhtiö), are potential locations for urban infill projects, they have been suggested as a possibility to finance building renovations. In Finland, the most common form of housing tenure (asunnon hallintaoikeus) is the housing cooperative based on resident owner-occupancy (omistusasuminen) (Puustinen & Viitanen 2015; Ruonavaara 2005). The discussion of their participation in urban infill planning is underway. However, these housing cooperatives with their resident-owners often lack the skills and knowledge necessary for organizing such projects on their own (Santaoja et al. 2016; Puustinen & Viitanen 2015; Nykänen et al. 2013, 55, 154). In addition, small projects may fail to attract professional partners from the construction industry, especially in cases of small sites and areas in which substantial profits cannot be expected (Kuronen et al. 2011). At the same time, resident-owners have been suspicious to cooperate with construction companies, and they have sought consultation from the public planning authorities in their urban infill projects (Santaoja et al. 2016; Laine et al. 2015).

Santaoja with her colleagues (2016) has described how public planners from the City of Tampere have planned urban infill in cooperation with housing cooperatives. Also, our interviewees from Tampere and Vantaa mentioned the reference planning which supports urban infill initiatives of the housing cooperatives. However, an urban infill project initiated by a housing cooperative can be understood as beneficial mainly for the property-owners. According to Eranti (2014), the concept of the common good in participatory land-use planning can be understood either as a dialogue in which various groups pursue their own interests, or as equal treatment of all citizens that must not be compromised for the sake of a single interest group. In consideration of this, some Finnish cities have decided not to give much assistance to the individual housing cooperatives for urban infill projects. Our interviewees explained the perspective in following: some representatives from the City of Oulu pointed out that this would mean using public funds for the benefit of a small group of people. Laine and Leino (2013) have concluded that, while processes of participatory land-use planning are well established in Finland, policies and tools for public planners to assist in actual development projects run by the people are still seeking their form.

Furthermore, even if attitudes to support local initiatives for urban infill are positive, public planners have not been able to make promises or provide exact calculations on the profitability of the projects. Puustinen and Viitanen (2015) have highlighted the housing cooperatives´ need for professional partners for their urban infill projects, and this factor was considered important also by our interviewees; however, they pointed out also that the development in this situation should truly be for the area and the residents.

”[F]rom a public servant’s perspective, it is hard, because you cannot really make any promises to those housing cooperatives. You can just tell with some example that these [initiatives] have been done, but you cannot say it is going to work out just like that for them. There, the private‑sector actors are needed.

But it has to be such that nobody suspects [private developers] of having their own interests in the development, especially not the residents. Residents have to recognize that it is really for them and for the area.”

For some of Finland’s large housing estates, local property maintenance has acted as an area manager of this sort. These enterprises were established during the building phase of the housing estates and placed under the ownership of the housing cooperatives. Since the housing cooperatives in Finland are based on non-profit principles, also the property maintenance enterprises under their ownership often support these principles. In some large housing estates, the local property maintenance enterprises have also been interested in the refurbishment of the area and its buildings. For example, for Tampere’s Kaukajärvi housing estate and Espoo’s Matinkylä, maintenance enterprises have made spatial development plans for the area. The non-profit motive of these enterprises has also encouraged them to seek more affordable solutions for joint housing renovations and secured their role as representatives of the area in the eyes of the public planning authorities:

“I would still believe that [the non-profit motive] is a sign that we are not exploiting anybody [and] that we truly are a partner to work with for the common good.

According to the foregoing discussion, there seem to be some challenges facing the popular planning approach to urban infill planning in the Finnish context. Public planners have not considered their role appropriate for providing all the assistance to the local actors, who are in need of the urban infill initiative. Instead, they suggested that also private actors should be involved. In some areas, the aforementioned local property maintenance have begun acting in a capacity of the professional area-developer, and because of their non-profit motives they have found affordable ways to do so.

4.2 Leverage planning: Planning with property developers

Leverage planning is the opposite of popular planning. Here, public planners try to attract development initiatives to the area and enable the desired development by agreeing to the objectives of market-led developers (Brindley et al. 1996, 15–17, 51). In Finland, public–private partnerships in urban development have become popular, which can be regarded as a form of market-oriented urban governance (Mäntysalo & Saglie 2010; Smas & Fredricsson 2015; Mäntysalo 1999). At the same time, the Nordic planning tradition emphasizes openness and inclusiveness, and public planners seek to advance ideals of communicative planning. This has been assessed as creating tensions between planners’ ideals and the reality in which they have to act on (Sager 2009; Mäntysalo & Saglie 2010; Smas & Fredricsson 2015). On the other hand, cooperation between the public and private sector in land-use planning is considered meaningful for making the most of the resources and expertise that are available (Ministry of the Environment 2014b, 139, 148–150).

The main tools for Finnish planning authorities to establish partnership with the private sector are land-use agreements and the planning monopoly of the municipalities (Mäntysalo & Saglie 2010). The role of public planning authorities in promoting economic development remains twofold. On one hand, independent municipalities may be seen as market actors that sell land to private developers and work as their partner in land-use planning projects. On the other hand, municipalities also have an institutional role in organizing the land markets, based on their planning monopoly. (Mäntysalo & Mattila 2016.) As a solution to combine the two roles, Mäntysalo and Mattila (2016, 69–71) propose a strategic approach: municipalities should encourage economic development especially in areas that can support a sustainable urban structure. Puustinen and colleagues (2016, 8–11) have introduced a “planner’s triangle”, in which seeking balance among market forces, social equity, and environmental protection leads to sustainable development.

The interviewees referred to situations in which they had sought to cooperate with the private sector in the urban infill planning. From the standpoint of land ownership, potential sites for this kind of development might include, for example, vacant lots and green areas that are owned by the municipality. For instance, local planning authorities in Helsinki have consulted private-sector property developers to find possibilities for attracting urban infill for large housing estates. This has been done within strategic spatial planning for the area, which also encompasses participatory planning alongside residents. The interviewees considered it somewhat surprising that, no matter the relatively low housing prices on some of the large housing estates, existing green areas have turned out to be interesting for developers. The planners in the City of Vantaa found prospects for urban infill at the edge of a sports park while planning the urban infill for one of the city’s large housing estates.

”[M]aybe it is some kind of waterfront development site from the large housing estate point of viewOne has to be aware of where new development could be achieved in the first place.

The challenge of leverage planning is that it does not necessarily consider the needs of the residents (Brindley et al. 1996, 15–17, 51, 115–117). For this reason, strategic planning of urban infill in Tampere is coordinated within the master planning department, where, according to an interviewee, there are better possibilities to formulate objectives for the planning with all interested parties. In detailed planning, urban infill projects are more geared towards serving stakeholders that are applying for changes to the local detailed plan. Mäntysalo and colleagues (2010) have referred to the input legitimacy and output effectiveness of planning. In the former, planning objectives are formulated in an open and participatory planning process, whereas the focus of the latter is on the end product of planning and the benefits it brings the affected parties (Mäntysalo & Saglie 2010; Mäntysalo et al. 2011). Also, according to the interviewees, private developers may offer compensatory elements, such as improve­ments to the local environment, in order to make urban infill projects more acceptable to the local residents. Interviewees also addressed the need to discuss these issues in a participatory planning process:

”If it is mostly elderly people living in the area, it doesn’t help at all to make a children’s playground there […] It is not beneficial in the big picture. It must come about through interaction, and the landuse planning process is the best way to organize it.

Furthermore, the concept of compensation may turn out to be useless in areas where development initiatives are scarce:

”The problem is that this kind of compensation would work in an attractive area. If there is an area where implementation really has to be sought, it is naturally more challenging.”

The leverage planning seeks opportunities to actualize the strategic vision for urban development in cooperation with private-sector actors. In the case of Finland’s large housing estates, public planners have, accordingly, tried to ascertain the development potential of the area in collaboration with property developers and construction companies. However, a challenge remains: attracting private actors to the areas in the first place while simultaneously ensuring openness of the planning process.

4.3 Public investment planning: Meeting the needs of the area

The third approach is called public investment planning. According to Brindley and colleagues, it is applied in the most disadvantaged areas, where possibilities for privately initiated development are not evident and the public sector hence has to take action. Here, areas for development are selected based on the actual need, not the possibilities for initiation of market-led projects (Brindley et al. 1996, 22–23). The interviewees highlighted the role of the public sector in urban development in Finnish suburbs. Relying entirely on a market-led approach would leave the most disadvantaged areas in an unfair position.

”Surely it does require some consideration from the municipalities about where this kind of [market-led] development can be considered and where it is suitable, and where it is not, when a more socially oriented approach is required.”

Instead of development partners being sought in the private sector, in public investment planning the partnerships are formed within the public sector. This kind of internal cooperation between authorities is considered able to address broader issues than merely physical regeneration. (Brindley et al. 1996, 133–135.) The interviewees considered that there are multifaceted problems in disadvantaged areas, and therefore the cooperation between authorities is required. Interviewees spoke of an internal project, the Helsinki City Suburb Project (‘Lähiöprojekti’) which has coordinated development initiatives and improved cooperation between authorities in development projects targeting large housing estates. One tangible aspect of the project has been to increase the quality of the public spaces in the area:

”In case, we get those environmental improvements, green-area improvements, and a little something more, all these kinds of factors will then, little by little, create a positive spiral.”

The challenge of public investment planning is that it may not be enough to reach the objectives set for urban development on its own (Brindley et al. 1996, 22–23; Galland & Hansen 2012). For example, the City of Oulu has approached urban development of the Kaukovainio housing estate partly via public investment planning, using funding from national-level urban policy tool Asuinalueiden kehittämisohjelma (a development program for residential areas). At the same time, the City of Oulu attempted to develop the site of an old shopping mall in the center of Kaukovainio through the public–private partnership and land-use agreements. Synchronization of the sub-projects failed when the private development was delayed. The City ended up making investments in the area’s physical environment and supporting area development based on residents’ activities. However, the delay of the flagship project still led to some disappointment in the area. The public-authority representatives interviewed who worked on Kaukovainio’s urban development noted that approaches additional to public investment planning are needed to take the development further.

” In this situation, we have started the development particularly on public investments. Now we should consider what to do next. What are the procedures that we choose to continue with? […] We have improved and reinforced the service structure, and now we wait what will happen next.”

Public investment planning addresses multifaceted problems of less attractive areas beyond purely physical urban infill projects. The challenge is that publicly funded urban development works from limited resources, and possibilities for attracting other development initiatives may not be visible.

4.4 Discussion: Outcomes resulting from the approaches

The three approaches, with their characteristic goals, focal players, and challenges, are summarized in Table 2. The aim of the popular planning in Finland is to encourage the local urban infill initiatives. This is a relevant approach, since most sites are owned by or rented to housing companies. Its challenge is that the policies and tools public planners can use to aid in development projects run by the local actors are still seeking form. The sites that are more readily available are approached with leverage planning, in which public planners have tried to attract private property developers for urban infill development. The challenge here is to find ways to attract private-sector interest in the large housing estates and simultaneously ensure transparency of the planning process. Finally, in public investment planning, meeting the needs of disadvantaged areas is the responsibility of public authorities. There, the challenge is to attract other development initiatives too, since development initiated by the public sector is not considered enough on its own.

Table 2: Approaches to planning of urban infill for Finnish large housing estates
Table 2: Approaches to planning of urban infill for Finnish large housing estates

We should stress that our study concentrated on only one aspect of strategic spatial planning: implementation. In our research setting, we started with an assumption that urban infill planning was chosen as a tool to accomplish the vision of the future urban development desired, so we were interested in the question of combining planning and implementation. In search for possible futures of large housing estates in Finland, we suggest further research concentrating on other tracks of strategic spatial planning in these areas also – namely, visioning, deciding on the short- and long-term actions, and bringing all interested parties into the process (for the tracks of strategic spatial planning, see Albrechts 2010, 219–221). This could include examining aspects of selecting areas for development on regional or city level, and bringing in community-based initiatives for development at local level.

5. Conclusions

We have examined three kinds of approaches to urban infill planning which all can be identified in large housing estates in Finland. When considering the outcomes of each approach, we have found that they seem to respond to different planning problems, and yet they bring along different kinds of challenges. In addition, it seems that applying only one approach to planning of urban infill in areas where possibilities have to be created is seldom sufficient. Therefore, we conclude that identification of several distinct planning approaches might aid in adjusting urban infill planning measures in practice. We agree with the suggestion by Schönwandt and colleagues (2013) that recognizing the planning approach could assist in framing the problem differently and extending the search space as we strive for new solutions.

Acknowledgments

The research was conducted within the research project Eheyttämisen edellytykset (Preconditions for Integrative Urban Redevelopment), for 2013–2015, at the Oulu School of Architecture and was funded by the Housing Finance and Development Centre of Finland (ARA) as part of the Development Programme for Residential Areas 2013–2015. We thank the three anonymous referees for their insightful comments on the manuscript.

Empirical data: Interviews

City planning authorities from the Cities of Vantaa, Helsinki, Tampere, and Oulu were consulted in 2015: on March 16, on March 18, on April 24 (two persons), and on June 24. In addition, a five-person workshop was held on February 5, 2015.

Representatives from the Finnish Ministry of the Environment were consulted on November 5, 2014, and February 18, 2015; the Finnish Real Estate Federation (Suomen Kiinteistöliitto) on October 15 and November 11, 2014; and the Finnish Association of Building Owners and Construction Clients (RAKLI ry) on April 16, 2015.

Representatives of local property maintenance and their consultants were consulted on September 12, 2014; on September 18, 2014; on October 15 and November 13, 2014 (one person); on October 23, 2014; and on October 10, 2015.

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