Planning beyond growth: a case study of wellbeing-oriented planning in Wales and Cornwall


  • Karin Holmstrand Swedish national road and transport research insitute (VTI) and Royal institute of technology (KTH)


post-growth,, Well-being, doughnut economics, case studies




Planning beyond growth, or post-growth planning, has been promoted as both a response to the ongoing sustainability crises (Barry, 2019), and as an adaptation strategy to a future where growth cannot be taken for granted (Crownshaw et al., 2019). Two initiatives that have been launched are Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) – a network of cities, local governments, businesses and civil society groups across the globe which are committed to transform their economic system to one that is oriented towards wellbeing rather than towards economic growth (Fioramonti et al., 2022) – and the Doughnut Economy – a model displaying the socio-ecologically safe space in which society can operate, defined by an “ecological ceiling” and a “social floor” (Raworth, 2017).

Although an increasing interest in the combination of post-growth ideas and planning, questions concerning the implementation of post-growth models in real-world planning system remain underexplored. This study explores two cases where these initiatives are in use, Wales and Cornwall, in order to analyze to what extent the implementation of post-growth ideas has influenced land-use planning and transport planning in the two places.

The aim of the study is to understand how the application of post-growth initiatives in these two cases has influenced the planning strategies, processes, practices, and culture in the places where they are applied.

The study was carried out by means of a two-step approach. First, a literature review on post-growth planning was performed using the databases Web of Science and Scopus, to explore how the notion of “post-growth” has been framed and to what extent the implementation of post-growth planning has been studied in real-world examples. Second, a case study was carried out focusing on two places in which post-growth models or initiatives have been applied, namely Wales and Cornwall. The case study consisted of a text analysis of the documented planning processes and policies that followed the application of the initiatives.

The case study of Wales and Cornwall performed in this study is a first attempt to analyze how the implementation of wellbeing-oriented initiatives have influenced planning systems at a local and regional scale. One preliminary conclusion is that there are several traces of post-growth ideas in both strategic documents, plans and concrete policies. This is shown, for instance, in key formulations, goal statements and visions that are intended to guide planning processes. However, there is also a need for deeper empirical analyses to understand whether there has been a shift also in actual planning practice and planning culture. A suggestion for future research is to supplement the document analysis with interviews with planning professionals and experts with concrete experience from these planning contexts.


Barry, J. (2019) ‘Planning in and for a post-growth and post-carbon economy’, in S. Davoudi, R. Cowell, I. White and H. Blanco (ed.) The Routledge Companion to Environmental Planning. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 120-129.

Crownshaw, T., Morgan, C., Adams, A., Sers, M., Britto dos Santos, N., Damiano, A., Gilbert, L., Yahya Haage, G. and Horen Greenford, D. (2019) ‘Over the horizon: Exploring the conditions of a post-growth world’, The Anthropocene Review, 6(1-2), pp. 117-141. Available at: (Accessed: 8 January 2024).

Fioramonti, L., Coscieme, L., Costanza, R., Kubiszewski, I., Trebeck, K., Wallis, S., Roberts, D., Mortensen, L.F., Pickett, K.E., Wilkinson, R., Ragnarsdottír, K.V., McGlade, J., Lovins, H. and De Vogli, R. (2022) ‘Wellbeing economy: An effective paradigm to mainstream post-growth policies?’, Ecological Economics, 192, 107261, pp.1-8. Available at: (Accessed: 8 January 2024).

Raworth, K. (2017) Doughnut economics: seven ways to think like a 21st-century economist. Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing.