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LEADER and Spatial Justice

Mark Shucksmith | Elizabeth Brooks | Ali Madanipour

Recent papers have argued that spatial justice should be pursued through a place- based approach, which enables local people to assert their own capacity to act and to pursue their own positive visions: an approach fundamental to LEADER. This paper considers the extent to which LEADER constitutes local action addressing spatial justice through a case study in England. Analysis of this case leads to questions about the extent to which apparent localism is constrained by ‘government at a distance’ and how this can affect the ability of LAGs to pursue spatial justice. It is suggested that LEADER displays a tension between network and hierarchy modes of governance, increasingly under
control of hierarchy in this instance despite its origins as networked CLLD. The paper concludes that LEADER has potential to contribute to spatial justice – both distributive and procedural – but that this may be frustrated by the imposition of different priorities and controls at local or from higher levels. Further case studies will be required to investigate how widely this potential is realised or frustrated across Europe’s varying national and local political contexts.

JSSJ meets RELOCAL – Mobilizations, meaning and uses of the concept of Spatial Justice in a European research project

Cyril Blondel | Estelle Evrard | Sarolta Németh | Laura Noguera 

The editors of this special issue are part of the H2020 2016-2020 research project RELOCAL. This project
draws on 33 case studies of local contexts across Europe. Fragments of empirical analysis underlie the research of several papers presented in this issue. As this project brings together a number of researchers from all over Europe, spread across 14 research institutions, it is an opportunity to reflect upon how each team and individual researcher relates the notion of spatial justice to their respective country and how, while doing their field work, their own understanding of this notion has evolved. Using the opportunity of a consortium meeting in Łódź, Poland, (5-6 March 2019), there has been bilateral exchange with some of the researchers. 


Autonomy+Development= Spatial (in)justice?

Justice Spatiale | Spatial Justice   Nº13   Oct.2019

Territorial Development + Local Autonomy= Spatial (in)justice?  Cyril Blondel | Estelle Evrard

Development brokers and place-based projects in deprived urban neighbourhoods: the case of Pécs, Hungary  Tünde Virág | Csaba Jelinek

Local autonomy meets Spatial Justice: civil-action in urban Kotka  Sarolta Németh

Possibilities and constraints of place-based development projects to temper hierarchical dependencies in a deprived neighbourhood  Judit Keller| Tünde Virág

Incomplete housing justice in Romania under neoliberal rule  Enikő Vincze | Cristina Bădiță | Iulia-Elena Hossu

Homelessness in Brussels – limits of multi-level governance in the application of the principle of Spatial Justice  Alain Malherbe | Jacques Moriau | Elisabetta Rosa | Martin Wagener

Local autonomy, development and Spatial Justice. Lessons from the United States  Kevin R. Cox

RELOCAL Working Paper Series 3 – Paper on Assessing spatial justice practices in innovation ecosystem: The endeavour of the Alexander Innovation Zone in Thessaloniki

By: Topaloglou, L. (2019)

The concept of spatial justice indicates a fair and equitable distribution in space of socially valued resources and the opportunities. On this basis, this paper examines the case study of the Alexander Innovation Zone (AIZ), of the Metropolitan Area of Thessaloniki, in Greece, focusing on specific locality, within wider territorial and policy context. What is attempted is to test place-based regional policies dealt with innovation ecosystems, through the lens of spatial justice, investigating whether a focus on localities would be better able to deliver the demands of spatial justice. The hypothesis to be tested is that equity in socially valued resources and opportunities can be achieved through place-based strategies. Based upon empirical material collected in 2018, within the framework of RELOCAL project (H2020,, this contribution attempt to shed some light in the aforementioned research hypothesis.   


RELOCAL Working Paper Series 3 – Paper on Services of general interest and the promotion of spatial justice

By: Tagai, G. (2019)

This paper aims at assessing the role of services of general interest in delivering spatial justice by reviewing key EU policy documents, and academic and grey literature. This goal is also driven by the intention of exploring operational features of services which might aim at promoting spatial justice and actor groups that are central to their provision. This task is supported by the revision of findings from (Hungarian) case studies of RELOCAL Horizon 2020 research which focus on local (development) actions from the viewpoint of cohesion, territorial development, and spatial justice.  


Justice Spatiale – Poser la question du « Grand Luxembourg » en terme éthique

By: Evrard, E. (2018)

Poser la question du « Grand Luxembourg », c’est questionner l’équilibre des relations politique, sociales et économiques dans l’espace transfrontalier autour du Luxembour; c’est réfléchir à ce que cela signifie et ce que cela implique. Déjà vu ? Pas tout à fait. La question est maintenant posée sur le terrain des valeurs, de la morale même. Se pose la question de savoir si, dans son fonctionnement, cet espace frontalier ne produit pas des inégalités, s’il n’est pas injuste. Sinon, alors comment comprendre le débat des derniers mois où il est question de « développement plus harmonieux entre le Luxembourg et les régions avoisinantes », de « (réduire) les écarts entre régions et réparti(r) mieux la pression liée à la croissance », de « juste équilibre» ? Cette discussion n’est pas neuve; elle se pose dans des termes différents. Ce qui est nouveau aussi, c’est que même à demi-mots, le sujet est identifié comme problématique de part et d’autre de la frontière.

Article published on FORUM magazine (November/December 2018)

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Policy Brief 1

The Role of the Local in Improving Cohesion and Spatial Justice: integrating place-based with top-down approaches to local development

There is growing concern about the increasing lack of positive identification with the European project by citizens. Persistent regional disparities and increasing social injustices with marked spatial effects in localities are part of this trajectory and need to be addressed by the European policy community.

One specific approach to tackling this challenge is to focus on the ‘local’. RELOCAL’s contribution to this is to shed light on how place-based approaches can support the enhancement of spatial justice and territorial cohesion, that is, a fair and equitable distribution in space of socially valued resources and the opportunities to use them. The RELOCAL researchers have carefully selected 33 locality-based/targeted ‘Actions’ (case studies) from all over Europe that represent different welfare regimes, rural and urban areas, disadvantaged and better-off localities and various cultural and historical contexts.

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RELOCAL Working Paper Series 2 – Abstracts of 18 draft case studies

By: Members of RELOCAL Consortium (2018)

The empirical phase of RELOCAL research started out with work focussing on the selection of eight case studies in October 2017 with the purpose of testing the project’s approaches and methodology. Then fieldwork, stakeholder engagement and data analyses were extended to altogether 33 case study areas (see on the Map below) engaging the RELOCAL research teams from eleven European countries. By September this year, 18 of the Case Study Reports have been prepared as ‘full drafts’ to be circulated and reviewed within the project partnership. The RELOCAL Working Paper Series 2 at hand offers summaries of these to a wider interested audience.


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RELOCAL Working Paper Series 1 – Paper on Problems of post-industrial city development. Tensions between the structure and image of Łódź (Poland)

By: Wójcik, M., Tobiasz-Lis, P., & Dmochowska-Dudek, K (2017)

The social and economic structure of towns and cities is characterised by a considerable degree of internal complexity and this ensures that the space societies generate is non-uniform, and subject to various transformations over time. Unevenness across urban space may be described by reference to different dimensions, which can be objective (relating to urban planning, the economy or society),or else symbolic, as inhabitants assess (assign value to) it, by way of individual experience and imagination. This is of particular importance where a society resembles that of Poland in having come through a multi-dimensional transformation variously described as a transition, modernisation, Europeanisation, globalisation or democratisation.

Attention was paid to selected aspects of spatial change, with the focus being on the contemporary development of Łódź, as associated with a new dynamism where large-scale urban developments are concerned – all the more so under the influence of programmes receiving EU funding.



RELOCAL Working Paper Series 1 – Paper on Locality and spatial justice: A conceptual framework

By: Madanipour, A., Shucksmith, M., & Talbo, H. (2017)

This publication is based on the Deliverable 1.1 of the Work Package 1 in the RELOCAL project. This EC-funded, Horizon2020, four-year project (2016-2020) examines place-based strategies in Europe from the perspective of spatial justice. As a possible response to an increasing need for developing European Union Cohesion Policy in terms of greater sensitivity towards territorial specificities, more supportive of community-based development and facilitation of greater civic participation, place-based strategies need to be critically studied.


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