Swedish regional development is characterised by increasing differences between income, education, health, work opportunities and welfare service. Furthermore, contemporary linear flows of resources between urban and rural areas contributes to increasing exploitation of natural resources and increasing environmental effects. In parallel, planning is to a large extent dominated by a model of thought with linear flows from rural to urban areas and where the big cities are regarded as driving forces for regional development. There are crucial knowledge gaps both within research and within planning practice regarding how to understand and handle the relationship between urban and rural on a regional scale. This knowledge gap increases because urban and rural issues are handled by different political areas, professions and academic disciplines.
Against this background, the aim of this report is to highlight relevant research and perspectives concerning the relationship between urban and rural and between local and regional planning, and to highlight knowledge gaps within these areas. Focus for the investigation is research and official reports relevant for the Swedish planning context.
The studied publications are within different fields, focused on urban planning and design research, rural research and research within human and economic geography. The intention is to highlight these research areas broadly from different research perspectives.
Based on the studied research this report highlights a need to increase the interplay between urban and rural areas and a need to create more balanced cycles between urban and rural areas and between society and nature. Research and the studied official reports highlights a need to create arenas where common local- regional strategies can be formulated. There is also a need to challenge stereotypes that can delimit? possibilities to increase cooperation between networks and landscapes.
To meet contemporary challenges regarding exploration of natural resources, decreasing of biological diversity and increasing spatial inequality there is a need to develop planning tools that can balance common and private interests, can make visible the possibilities of different landscapes and can make visible and handle conflicts of goals. Furthermore, there is a need to increase focus on if and how contemporary planning creates and increases spatial inequality, as well there is a need to develop planning tools that can more consciously handle the spatial aspects of power and justice.