An increasing population and historically unprecedented urbanisation characterise the 21st century. When resource-scarcity, climate change and growing demands for liveability are added into this mix, thinking of innovation and sustainability in the built environment becomes critical. The Nordic countries are in a strong position to address many of these challenges.
Denmark will not become beautiful and well-planned spontaneously. Visions are required about what type of country, landscapes and municipalities are desirable. This requires strategies and planning to create and maintain high-quality surroundings – in nature, in the environment, in landscapes and in cities and towns.
Spatial planning creates the surroundings in which people will be living their lives. Political decision-making processes with public participation and balancing of various interests are therefore an important and exciting part of democracy.
Spatial planning aims to create and maintain the qualities of urban areas and the countryside. The challenges of spatial planning change as society develops.
From the early 1950s to the mid-1970s, Denmark’s population grew, the standard of living increased and the population migrated from rural to urban areas. Large new suburban estates were created outside the historical town centres. The industrialization of construction and increasing affluence enabled unprecedented growth in the size of dwellings and in business construction. These new suburbs, which were planned to have spatially differentiated residential estates, business districts, urban centres and service functions, now encompass more than half the developed urban land in Denmark.
This chapter discusses Danish planning up to the change of government, 20th November 2001. The new government changed in many ways the political attitude. This is also true for the field of spatial planning as illustrated in a newspaper article by Michael Rothenborg (2002), titled “Murder in the Ministry”. In this article he suspects the new government to abolish the achievements in the fields of environmental protection and planning which the former Minister of the Environment had fought for. So, the near future will tell to what degree Danish planning and planning policy will change.