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Regeneration in

European cities:
making connections
Informing change
April 2008

European cities can Key points
provide valuable insights
• T
 here is no single ‘European model’ for successful urban regeneration,
into how to tackle deep- but a consistent approach runs through the case studies – a powerful
seated urban problems, local authority is in charge of the regeneration scheme, and is using it
such as the regeneration not just to revive a run-down area but also to change the whole image
of run-down industrial of the city and transform its strategic economic position.
areas. This research
• T
 he authorities realise their city-regions are competing with other places
is based primarily on and have developed coordinated long-term strategies for making their
case studies of major cities places where people choose to live, invest and do business. Their
urban regeneration strategies include practical actions to give vulnerable groups of people
schemes in Gothenburg access to new opportunities.

(Sweden), Rotterdam • S
 uccessful city development requires long-term commitment and
(The Netherlands) and genuine collaboration between many agencies and interests.
Roubaix (in Metropolitan
Lille in France) and draws • F
 or devolved government to work, control over resources, as well
as responsibilities, needs to be transferred from central to local
conclusions for UK policy government.
and practice.
• In France and the Netherlands, long-term contracts between central
and local government provide joined-up funding and motivate local
authorities to work together.

• In all the case studies, much of the local authority’s income comes from
local taxes that are directly linked to the success of the local economy,
providing a powerful incentive for successful city development.

The research
By a team from URBED (Urban
and Economic Development), with
researchers at Chalmers University
(Gothenburg), Erasmus University
(Rotterdam) and University College

Other notable features include: (Sweden). but the port moved out to the and redundancies were avoided through retraining. • having systems in place to cope with plant closures. and in places facing similar problems to together for a common long-term goal. a new metro station. However. where about 15. the effects of the oil crisis led to their closure.Background What makes the scheme special is the way that Many towns and cities in Britain have the Council. Gothenburg which meant that the decline of the yards did not lead to mass unemployment. Although far from complete. as have their with the facilities and environment to help them flourish.000 people worked until the 1970s. education) and job-related training. This This is a key part of a plan to establish Gothenburg study examines how urban regeneration as a world leader in selected niche sectors. areas and improvements to the prospects of local • the stress on quality in all aspects of the people. Rotterdam (The Netherlands) and Roubaix (France) and draws out • the strategic view taken by the City Council and lessons for the UK. other stakeholders to use the regeneration scheme to reposition the city’s economy. the universities and leading companies had to cope with the decline of their (including Ericsson and Volvo) have worked together to create a cluster of knowledge-intensive firms. mouth of the river during the 1960s and 1970s. the industrial decline (who are referred to as ‘vulnerable • the commitment to education (particularly technical groups’ in this study). more the adjoining residential areas. so that all the city’s residents would have access to good jobs – with new university campuses located on the site. when the City Central government provided funding for the iconic Council gained control of the whole site. and to attract and retain the former industrial cities of Gothenburg the talented people that such businesses need. and explore the connections user-friendly was an indispensable part of the between the physical transformation of the run-down regeneration and economic development strategy. Norra Älvstranden (‘Northern Riverside’) was the site of Case Study: Kop van Zuid. those found in equivalent British cities. Gothenburg (population 500. a proactive Erasmus Bridge. across The yards were nationalised and run down in an orderly the River Maas from the city centre. Case study: Norra Älvstranden. being carried out in countries which have similarities • the way in which all interests were prepared to work to the UK. Eventually. Rotterdam Gothenburg’s shipyards. counterparts in northern Europe. In the past it suffered from a poor image and a declining population. The case studies were written with the revenue came from income tax – a local tax in help of researchers based in the cities concerned. the City Council was industrial heyday. under the housing and a much better environment than it did in its Dutch Major Cities Policy. used to be an way. the extension city-owned development agency began to create a of the tram system. railway lines that used to cut off Kop van Zuid from Norra Älvstranden already provides more jobs. important dock area. • the Council’s decisive role in leading the These schemes were chosen because they were regeneration process. and putting underground the stylish mixed-use quarter. They Sweden – which is clearly related to local prosperity. look at the approaches taken to urban regeneration and • the realisation that making the city attractive and economic restructuring. create a schemes have been used to transform diversified local economy. and by holding major events (such as pop concerts) there to change its image.000) is an industrial centre on Sweden’s west coast and the country’s second city. especially those who were adversely affected by development. vision for a new mixed-use quarter that would help to but the public sector confirmed its faith in the area by change Rotterdam’s image and open up the south side investing in a range of educational and research facilities of the city. Initial redeployment or early retirement. clearly responsible for developing and delivering the . along principal industries. They have all • the strong incentive that the Council had to promote been under way for many years and are widely seen the economic success of the city as most of its as successful. when foreign competition and Rotterdam (population 600. Other employers rallied round to create new jobs. Kop van Zuid (‘Southern Headland’).000) is Europe’s largest port. The redevelopment of plans to build social housing were replaced by a bolder the derelict site took many years to get off the ground.

Kop van Zuid now has a new waterfront Métropole Communauté Urbaine (LMCU). economic and social regeneration. but eventually to 30 towns and • the leading role taken by the city-regional authority cities. To achieve this. Most notably a strong local authority was in charge of each Roubaix’s revival has been part of a wider strategy to regeneration scheme. a first-class environment and a mixed. producer. (and share revenues) in the interests of the city as a . all the local of the whole city and transform its strategic economic authorities in the conurbation agreed to work together position. once a major textile the use of colour to brighten up the town centre. architecture and the public realm in changing the • the use of long-term funding contracts between image and connectivity of the area and creating central and local government to secure confidence among potential investors. and delivering a range of way the environment is looked after and to overcome cultural projects. spread the benefits of regeneration to poorer areas. integrated public transport system. of long-term agreements with the central and regional It is attracting creative people. (LMCU) and the local mayors in planning and driving • the use of the City’s Development Corporation forward regeneration. but since then has been successful urban regeneration. priorities for regeneration throughout the city-region. In Roubaix. • recognition of the importance of early investment • the willingness of the municipalities to agree on in high-quality transport and other infrastructure.regeneration strategy. collaboration at city-regional level and enable the • the concerted effort to involve the surrounding implementation of a locally-driven development communities in the plans for the scheme and to strategy. include: • the leading role taken by the City Council in developing and carrying out the scheme. four largest cities.000). high-quality by an assembly representing all 85 elected municipal housing. Other regeneration of Kop van Zuid could have on the significant aspects of the approach to regeneration development of the city as a whole.1 million). creating a safe local people also helped to secure breakthroughs in the and attractive public realm. • the imaginative re-use of landmark buildings and Roubaix (population 100. Engaging with centre. After 30 years of post-war boom. • recognition that culture is a central part of urban Case Study: Roubaix. city’s physical. Projects included major transport investments investment in infrastructure – and the accessibility it and the regeneration of all the main centres. across sectors and across centres. to manage the scheme and get a whole range of • long-term persistence and collaborative working public and private partners to work together. The Although there is no single ‘European model’ for town became very run-down. improving the housing stock. bringing retailing back to the town development to poorer areas nearby. • the understanding that the regeneration of Roubaix • the fact that the national government devolved depended both on the success of the wider city- responsibility and resources for joined-up urban region and on the transformation of the town into a regeneration to local authorities – first just to the place of opportunity not just need. there is a consistent making a significant recovery. overseen with many striking commercial buildings. • the value of an efficient. the City established a Mutual Benefit The main projects in Roubaix included revitalising the programme to spread the benefits of the new town’s economy. approach running through all the case studies. The created – convinced the private sector that it was safe vehicle for doing this was a city-regional authority. and the population fell. unemployment rose sharply in the 1980s. councils in the conurbation. and was using it not only to reposition Metropolitan Lille as a top-ranking city in the improve a run-down area but also to change the image commercial heart of Europe. the French textile industry began Conclusions to collapse in the 1970s. Metropolitan Lille regeneration even in the most deprived areas. Furthermore. These were carried out in partnership resistance to change. LMCU entered into a series use central area that complements the city centre. In addition. the early public whole. Lille to invest. Other features of the scheme with LMCU by the Municipality of Roubaix. and its success has governments that provided joined-up funding for the prompted improvements in neighbouring areas. which include: has worked hard to link employment and training opportunities for local people (including ‘vulnerable • the realisation of the strategic impact that the groups’) to all new investment in the town. is one of the larger towns in the Lille conurbation (population 1.

it is at this The research was carried out by Christopher Ref: 2217 www. About the study 4. skills – because city-regional development is likely to friendly and distinctive is crucially important. Focus on the wider metropolitan area (or city. assisted by case studies show that the local authorities (working Vassiliki Kravva.jrf. Work together across boundaries. They also have of the Bartlett School. preparation of the case Setting and 9. It is available as a free download from www. sectors and opportunities. York YO30 6WP. to discuss the research findings with policy-makers and Invest in high-quality infrastructure and public realm – to change the image of the city and attract private investment and new residents. linking disadvantaged people to the new opportunities it creates. The Homestead. Read more Findings at www. companies and enterprising individuals. local researchers and UK the prosperity of the local economy (e. Create attractive and balanced residential experts. level that strategic control needs to be exercised. Provide incentives for sustainable success – Lille). and a round-table symposium making the strategy succeed.The research highlights ten key messages for current 8. For further information The full report.g. ISSN 0958-3084 Tel: 01904 615905 email: info @jrf. This project is part of the JRF’s research and development programme. Recognise that cities are in competition – feel that they benefit from the development of the city especially in attracting sustainable.falk@urbed. neighbourhoods – transforming the prospects of a place depends on creating environments which people would choose to live in and which provide benefits for existing residents. Dr Marco Van Hoek responsibility for both urban regeneration and the future of Erasmus University (Rotterdam) and Claire Colomb development of their metropolitan areas.jrf. selection linking a sizeable part of the city authorities’ income to of appropriate case studies. These findings. London WC1X 8HP. Build permanent delivery organisations and managing a strategy to make a city attractive. are those of the Other formats Published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. 10. University College London (and access to resources to match their responsibilities. Value the role of culture in regeneration – region) – a city’s economy. . by Christopher Cadell and Nicholas Falk. residential catchment area cultural projects can help change the image of an and local transport systems almost always spread out or n. be a permanent activity. two-day taxation) encourages collaboration and commitment to workshops in each city. formerly with the INTERREG IIIB Programme based in 5. need long-term commitment and genuine collaboration between many agencies and interests. other vulnerable groups) access to a wider range of 3. however. is published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. authors and not necessarily those of the Foundation. It involved an extensive literature review. with Professor Lisbeth Birgersson of with neighbours as appropriate) clearly accept Chalmers University (Gothenburg).org. generate local pride and build social professions – successful economic development. The Nicholas Falk and Francesca Devolve real power and resources to city authorities – since city-regions compete. Spread the benefits of regeneration and British urban and regional policy debates: economic development throughout the community – people in all parts of the metropolitan area need to 1. 7. wealth-generating and are proud to belong to it. and cohesion. Regeneration in European cities: making connections. 26 Gray’s Inn 40 Water End. give local people (particularly young people and beyond its municipal boundaries. Further information is also available from: URBED. through local partners.