Residential subdivisions remain the preferred living environment for the majority of the Flemish people. But, this low- density, uniform and car-dependent mode of living comes at a high societal cost. There is an ongoing debate in Flanders on how to reduce these costs. In spite of this debate, the subdivision of open land continues. The hypothesis, put forward by this proposal, is that, in order for the debate to have impact, it needs to become more concrete, by (1) departing from everyday practices and by (2) making the costs and benefits of alternative scenarios explicit.

A societal cost benefit analysis (SCBA) is a method to analyse the societal costs and the societal benefits of (spatial) scenarios. The aim of the proposal is to develop a model for a ‘participatory SCBA’ that can support a collective of residents, local authorities and local organisations to co-produce alternative futures for their residential subdivisions and compare their costs and benefits. This participatory SCBA will be tested in two residential subdivisions, one in Diepenbeek and one in Nandrin.

The research will result in a theoretical and operational framework on the use of a participatory SCBA, and in concrete actions plans to reduce the societal costs of the two residential subdivisions.