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Sharing good working practices across the member states is a positive ...
Sharing good working practices across the member states is a positive

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

Initiative' report, which includes key good practice principles,

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:

David Pullen

Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

Floor 4/J9

Eland House

Bressenden Place



Tel: 0171 890 3716

Fax: 0171 890 3729



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.


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

programme ends.


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

regeneration context.

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

environmental goals.

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.


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

community involvement.

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