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City planning - Denmark

City planning in Copenhagen.

Copenhagen is famous for its urban planning concept which has pro-moted sustainable lifestyles and sustainable modes of mobility. The Finger Plan for Greater Copenhagen was introduced in 1947 when a group of town planners realized that Greater Copenhagen was beginning to spread uncontrollably.

Greater Copenhagen is a vast area consisting of 34 municipalities. The spreading of the area created difficulties for the public transport system, which was in danger of reaching its capacity. It was necessary to control the urban growth and develop a citywide network of railways and arterial roads. The idea of the plan was to concentrate the urban development of Greater Copenhagen in the urban “fingers” created around the railway network.

At the same time, the green wedges between the fingers would remain undeveloped. Greater Copenhagen resembles a hand where the city of Copenhagen covers the palm and five larger cities and their railway routes represent the fingers.

Since 1947 the Finger plan has been the main guiding principle of city planning in Copenhagen.

In 1989 the planners for Greater Copenhagen implemented a “Close to Station” structure, where the areas for additional building developments were limited to within one kilometre from a railway station. Building would thus be concentrated closely around the 25 large railway stations in Greater Copenhagen.

The aim was to favour public transport at the expense of private car use. This “Close to station” structure of city planning allowed for sustainable lifestyles and minimized environmental impact since transportation and developments were concentrated in conveniently accessible areas.

People moving to area might even not notice how much the city planning structure provides them opportunities for sustainable lifestyle.

In 2007 the Danish Ministry of the Environment created Finger Plan 2007, where this proven concept was written into national law and had judicial binding over Greater Copenhagen and its planning initiatives.

The impacts of this “Close to Station” principle were estimated in an environ-mental report on Finger Plan 2007. It was calculated that it was possible to save up to 100,000 tons of CO2 per year in the coming 30 years, or 2,000,000 kilometres driven per day. The 100,000 ton CO2 reduction is only a small part of the potential of the Finger Plan, because they have only included future growth in the calculation and not all expansion since 1947.

More information:

City planning as a tool to reduce the CO2 in Greater Copenhagen

The “Finger Plan” and “Close to the Station” structure reduced the the need for travel and promoted sustainable lifestyles without requiring direct, intrusive action by the citizens of Copenhagen. These planning concepts can be used as good examples when discussing city structure and urban planning options in other cities.