way forward for urban policy, regeneration minister Richard Caborn
said at the EU informal council meeting in Glasgow.
Discussions during the meeting focused on the Urban Exchange
supported by case studies, on comprehensive regeneration, town centre
management and community involvement.
Mr Caborn said:
'I welcome today's debate and hope that this report will help to
foster good working practices. The case studies contained in this
report include a wide range of projects, from city wide regeneration
in Barcelona to ecological town renewal in Nuremberg, from improving
local services in H'meenlinna, Finland, to local investment funds for
community projects in my own Sheffield constituency. It is this sort
of inter-governmental co-operation which can give a real feeling of
ownership of the work to all member states, and I believe that we can
all learn a lot from each other's experience in tackling urban
problems by regular exchanges of views.
'I am confident that all member states will continue to play their
part in co-operating in this important initiative. By working
together and sharing good practices in tackling particular urban
problems it can be beneficial for all our towns and cities, large and
The Urban Exchange Initiative report follows the Noordwijk agreement
- supporting the Dutch Presidency proposal for bringing urban issues
onto the agenda for regular debate.
A summary of the Urban Exchange Initiative report is attached. The
full report can be obtained by contacting:
Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
Tel: 0171 890 3716
Fax: 0171 890 3729
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION
1. The population of the European Union lives predominately in urban
areas. It is valuable for member states to learn from each other
about approaches to urban problems which have been found to work
well. The purpose of this presidency initiative, therefore, is to
draw together some key principles based on good practice experience
in dealing with various issues affecting urban areas. It provides a
non-binding, informal, reference framework to help Member States in
developing their own urban policies, as appropriate, within their
respective legislative and administrative systems.
2. The work builds on that of earlier presidencies and takes
forward the ministerial agreement at Noordwijk to an exchange on the
approach to problems and challenges in urban areas during the UK
presidency. It complements work being carried out in other fora, for
example, by the European Commission, member states on the European
Spatial Development Perspective, the Expert Group on the Urban
Environment, OECD, as it provides an intergovernmental perspective on
urban development based on implementation of various policies and
3. The UK presidency considers three themes as a first stage:
a comprehensive approach to urban regeneration as a way of tackling
areas of multiple deprivation
town centre management, including mixed use development, to deal with
some environmental and urban quality issues
good governance and community involvement in order to improve local
democracy, with particular reference to regeneration initiatives
These themes, which have had some practical success, are discussed in
separate chapters which conclude with some best practice principles;
case study details are contained in an annex.
4. It would be useful for other important urban themes to be
addressed during subsequent presidencies; it is important for
collaborative work at member state level to be carried out alongside
that by the European Commission.
CHAPTER 2 COMPREHENSIVE (INTEGRATED) REGENERATION
4. Chapter 2 looks at the issue of multiple deprivation, which
affects parts of many urban areas, and an approach to tackling it
through comprehensive (integrated) action. Targeted areas may be
typically in the inner city or on the fringes.
5. The characteristics of deprivation include unemployment, low
economic base, poor housing, poor environment, ill health, high crime
levels. Multiple deprivation occurs where a number of these problems
are concentrated together.
6. The comprehensive approach aims to work across policies at
different levels of government, both horizontally and vertically.
This is not easy and requires political commitment. There are
advantages in including comprehensive regeneration in an overall
strategy for the region or urban area.
7. The whole approach is based on partnership at the local level,
involving government, the private sector, voluntary bodies and the
community. The lead may usually, but not invariably, come from the
local authority. The private sector may assist with developing
economic strategies as well as providing funds. Involvement of the
community is necessary for the success of projects.
8. Another feature is the targeting of areas or groups, which may be
based on needs, some form of competition process or a combination of
both. A local deprivation index quantifying various key indicators
may be helpful in selection.
9. A strategy setting out the long term vision for the area concerned
would normally have a mix of economic, social, physical,
environmental and cultural aspects reflecting the interdependency of
the actions. The emphasis will depend, however, on the particular
priorities of the area.
10. An effective management team which will implement rigorous
appraisal, monitoring and evaluation systems needs to be in place.
The timescale of the initiative is important; regeneration tends to
be a long term process while targeted funding may be for a limited
period. At the outset it is necessary to consider 'exit' or 'forward'
strategies to maintain regeneration work once funding ceases.
11. Key good practice principles :
Establish a partnershipof all interests with an effective management
team; targeting of resources within an overall strategy;
co-ordination across central and local government and identification
of regulatory barriers; a package of time limited proposals with
sufficient funding to have an impact; robust appraisal and monitoring
systems together with information enabling early identification of
unintended consequences; 'exit' strategies for continuity once a
CHAPTER 3 TOWN CENTRE MANAGEMENT
12. Chapter 3 considers the approach taken by Town Centre Management
to bring sustainable improvements to declining centres, which include
any type of multi-functional centre in an urban area. Town Centre
Management may be developed within a wider spatial planning and
13. Many centres have suffered from the effects of dispersal of
various activities, notably retailing but also employment and
leisure. This results in vacant premises, temporary uses, derelict
land and properties. Different levels of restriction on out of town
retail developments in member states may cause problems in
traditional centres across borders, while conflicts can occur where
new developments and tourism affect the historic/cultural heritage.
14. There is a need to draw and maintain inflows of activity and
investment and to make centres more attractive and accessible, in
order to ensure their future success and survival. Recognising the
different types of town and associated centres is useful but it is
vital to consider the local needs and priorities of people, taking
environmental considerations into account.
15. Broadly based local partnerships, with strong leadership, are an
essential element of Town Centre management. Local authorities are
usually well placed to take on an enabler/initiator role. 'Not for
profit' partnerships may be developed in order to achieve future
funding and long term sustainability.
16. A good way of showing what could be achieved and the benefits of
working together is through techniques such as a
Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats analysis. It also aids
the process of drawing up a strategy and action plan.
17. Individuals with dedicated time and appropriate skills, such as a
Town Centre Manager, may be identified to act as communicators,
facilitators, activity co-ordinators in the process. They may come
from the local authority or the private sector.
18. The aim is to develop a realistic action plan for publication,
supported by all partnership members. The plan itself should suit
the needs of the particular centre in its area context. The most
successful initiatives balance economic, social, physical and
19. Possible strategies may include new facilities/events, promotion
of distinct quarters, improved accessibility, pedestrianisation,
improvements to hygiene, safety, image. Mixed land uses are a
significant factor in the vitality of centres, especially housing on
disused sites and use of rooms over shops. Town centre management
initiatives should take urban design aspects into consideration.
20. Close monitoring is necessary both for the partnership to record
progress and to attract interest/further investment from sponsors.
21. Key good practice principles:
Develop Town Centre Management in the context of a strategy for
specific types of spatial development; take into account the role of
particular centres and impact of proposals on different interests;
broad based partnership with development of 'not for profit'
partnerships where appropriate; use of dedicated individuals such as
a town centre manager; a shared vision with a realistic action plan;
use of techniques such as a SWOT analysis; mixed uses including
housing; sound monitoring systems.
CHAPTER 4 GOOD GOVERNANCE AND COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
22. Chapter 4 is concerned with improving local democracy within
existing government structures. It focuses on involving and
empowering the community in a regeneration context but is also
relevant to the broader issue of securing greater participation in
decisions taken by local authorities on local services generally.
Community refers to any group of individuals with a common bond
outside the family unit and below the first level of municipal
23. The community may be involved in a number of ways, through
representation in partnership structures, in bidding proposals, in
project development. Community forums may be set up. Local
authorities may fund community groups to undertake small scale local
actions. In planning and reviewing services, local authorities and
other bodies need to keep in touch with local concerns and take
positive steps to involve the community.
24. As many groups of people from the community as possible should be
involved. It is important to include those who sometimes feel
excluded such as the young, elderly, women, long term unemployed,
ethnic minorities, faith communities and those with disabilities.
Care needs to be taken that narrowly focused lobby groups do not
dominate views. Community development workers often play a crucial
25. Capacity building through development and training of community
organisations/individuals is important, to ensure continuing benefits
after programme funding ends. This may lead to the creation of
community based 'not for profit' regeneration activities.
26. A wide range of techniques is available for assessing needs and
opinions, providing information and consultation and for direct
community involvement. These are as relevant to the general
responsibilities of local authorities and other bodies for service
provision as they are to specific urban regeneration projects.
27. It is useful to plan the process of community involvement in
advance by thinking through a series of logical steps. Changes in
involvement can be monitored through a range of relevant indicators.
28. Key good practice principles:
Develop capacity building potential of the community for lasting
regeneration benefits; provide opportunities for active involvement
in partnerships and promote ways for local authorities to involve the
community more generally; involve as many groups of people as
possible, including youth and those who may feel excluded; consider
use of financial incentives, funding contracts and use of a community
development worker; plan the process of involvement, identifying
suitable techniques; appropriate ways of measuring/evaluating