Urban Welfare in Europe: A Comparative Approach

  • Ombretta CaldariceEmail author
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Geography book series (BRIEFSGEOGRAPHY)


This chapter aims to analyse the different European approaches to the spatial dimension of the welfare state, i.e. the planning of urban facilities. Generally, there are two principal tendencies in European urban welfare planning. The first, what could be called the prescriptive approach, is one that is characterised by a strong regulatory and a land-based perspective. In Italy and Spain urban facilities are not measured beforehand but they are subjected to normative prescriptions. These prescriptions are based on mandatory minimum values calculated in square meters per inhabitant. In this approach, the concept of urban facilities is strongly linked to physical areas and hence to the principal needs of neighbourhoods, such as roads, sewage, parks, and parking lots. The second, which could be called the descriptive approach, is one that is less normative and treats urban facilities in relation to where they are, how convenient they are, and how they perform, emphasizing proximity, ease of access, adequate size, and desirable density. However, both the prescriptive and descriptive approach in urban welfare planning seem to need to be renovated in order to become more efficient, effective and sustainable planned and in order to give better answers to the radical transformations and innovations that have taken place recently in European cities due to the urban crisis. For this reason, we should plan urban facilities with a kind of logic that can meet the needs of communities and guarantee a higher level of satisfaction with the quality and quantity of facilities planned and provided in cities. Italian spatial planning is moving this way. Italian planners, therefore, have come to the conclusion that regulation alone is not enough under current conditions to guide collective decisions regarding land use, especially in reference to urban facilities.


European welfare state models Right to the city Urban welfare planning reform Italian urban standards Descriptive approach Prescriptive approach Spain Italy United Kingdom 


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies and PlanningPolitecnico and Università di TorinoTurinItaly

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