1. Past - what is the basis and philosophy of the project?
Since 1995 ARL produces so called Handbooks of Planning Terms. First a bilateral scientific interest was a driving force behind it. Spatial planning tasks on both sides of a border between Germany and his neighbour states - i.e. flood risk management - enhanced theses efforts, as well as rising demands for trans-national development processes. The edition of Handbooks was started with a Polish-German Handbook. As the map shows (link), several bi- or trilateral Handbooks came into existence during the last decade.
European policies influenced increasingly national and regional development decisions. And, of course, the enlargement of the EU related with a total turnaround of political, administrative and planning systems in some of the new EU Member States raised the interest in their respective planning systems. INTERREG IIC funds in the CADSES area led to a trilateral handbook which was realized between Austria, the Czech and the Slovak Republic. A further bilateral edition was realized between Austria and Germany. In the BSR the same funds led not only to a revision of the Polish-German Handbook but also to the completely new elaboration of a Swedish-German and a Swedish-Polish one INTERREG IIC Baltic Manual).
During the ongoing work on these latter mentioned handbooks at the beginning of this millennium it became clear that there is a crucial need for an overarching web-based glossary of planning terminology and its framing chapters coping with the constitutional, administrative and planning systems of the different States around the Baltic Sea. Due to frequent changes within the Polish system at that time a printed book did no longer meet the requirements of users. Furthermore, in the context of trans-national conferences, projects and negotiations English was, and still is, the main language spoken concerning trans-national issues.
Experience was made, i.e. during several INTERREG II-conferences, that project partners of different BSR countries, who were no planners but tackling issues which are spatially relevant or having spatial impacts, invented randomly planning terms. Some were not even aware of the existence of national planning systems and their related terminologies. On the other hand planners themselves were often trapped in misunderstandings due to differences in system structures. Although same English terms were used in professional discussions they often were related to other connotations. Often enough translating was done by others than specialists with a "3 L"-skill: language, legislation, linguistic.
On the basis of those experiences and former achievements the application for COMMIN was prepared with the ambitious challenge to foster mutual understanding and to harmonize planning terminology in the BSR on the basis of the English language.
Dr.-Ing. Evelyn Gustedt, Head of Department "Spatial Planning,
Planning Related Policies", Academy of Spatial Research and Planning