Organised with the Spanish Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda (MITMA).

Urban regeneration, especially in deprived neighbourhoods, has been recognised as a vital priority for long-lasting sustainable development of cities and a tool in the fight against social inequalities.

Different documents, such as The Urban Agenda for the EU, the New Leipzig Charter, the Toledo Declaration as well as the Cohesion Policy, address this issue with a specified action plan and instruments allowing cities to assume a leading role in designing their urban regeneration strategies in an integrated manner. Adopting a comprehensive perspective to urban and spatial development, this Policy Lab accommodated a knowledge exchange on integrated urban regeneration. The interventions from three different European cities and Spanish experiences set the stage for a fruitful exchange of best practices, providing precious insights to municipal as well as national policymakers. What are the most effective strategies for promoting neighbourhood revitalisation? What is the role of public authorities and how did the introduction of instruments like the ‘neighbourhood managers’ and ‘urban marines’ improve these processes?

European Experiences

Regenerative Strategies in Rotterdam Zuid

Martin Grisel, Director, EUKN

One of the largest ports in the world and the first one in Europe, Rotterdam has undertaken an intense revitalisation process in its Southern Neighbourhood (Rotterdam Zuid).

To break the vicious cycle of deterioration, solve a number of wicked problems and reap the benefits of a new knowledge economy, the Rotterdam Municipality adopted a bold, integrated and localised approach to regenerate and renew its deprived neighbourhoods, linking education with job-creation and social integration, tackling the poor housing conditions of those areas and creating a polycentric, multi-stakeholder and collaborative governance model.

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Urban Regeneration in Hamburg

Anne Keßler, Head of Division of Social Urban Development and European Social Fund, Federal Ministry for Housing, Urban Development and Building, Germany

While being an overall wealthy German city, Hamburg still faces increasing internal polarisation among its neighbourhoods and communities. Leveraging on the experienced matured through the Social City project, the Social Cohesion project in Hamburgh aims to ameliorate the life of its residents through integrated, multi-layered interventions.

Hence, the municipality of Hamburgh has decided to transform the previously gated school areas into open and inclusive community spaces: turning the school into a ‘community anchor’, the project seeks to create a vibrant centre with educational, recreational and leisure purposes, and create a community gateway for better socio-economic conditions.

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The revitalisation of the Planina Neighbourhood

Uroš Kavdik, Officer, Office of Environment and Spatial Planning, Municipality of Kranj

The renewal of the Planina neighbourhood, in the city of Kranj (Slovenia), share many similarities with the other European projects presented during the Policy Lab. Being located in a former industrial area built around the ’60s, the neighbourhood is nowadays in need of a strong regeneration, especially in terms of building efficiency, transport mobility and recreational public spaces.

The Municipality of Kranj decided to avoid top-down structures and adopted a people- and place-based integrated approach, fostering citizens’ participation through interdisciplinary working groups, different workshops and public surveys, fostering a trust-building, cooperation process between the administrations and its residents.

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Spanish Experiences

Integrated Approach in Urban Regeneration (a historical perspective)

Sonia de Gregorio Hurtado, Technical University of Madrid (UPM)

Focusing on the origin and genealogy of the concept of (integrated) urban regeneration allows us to acquire knowledge and learn about experiences that are often not taken into account in urban regeneration policies and strategies as they are considered too distant in time. Keeping in mind the socio-economic, cultural, and political context in which “urban regeneration” emerged in the late 1980s (strongly characterised by an integrated approach) allows us to connect with a timeframe which has important parallels with the present.

Taking these two issues into account can help in achieving an integrated approach to urban regeneration by making the most of the important experience accumulated in the framework of EU urban policies from the late 1980s to the present.

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An integrated perspective in the EDUSIs (Sustainable and Integrated Urban Development Strategies)

Iván Rodríguez Suaréz, Technical University of Madrid (UPM)

The “Report on the plans and programmes associated with Sustainable Urban Development Strategies (EDUSI) and their link with urban vulnerability in Spain in the framework of the new urban challenges” developed in 2021 through a collaboration agreement between MITMA and the IJH of the UPM shows that the impact of the EDUSI on the city’s urban policy is varied.

Case studies of 8 Spanish cities show that integrated urban regeneration is not conditioned by the scale of intervention, but rather by the existence of a city strategy and the management, incorporation of other European funds in the city. In urban areas that had a previous structured city plan, the EDUSI was supported by it. If they did not have such a vision, the EDUSI served as a basis for their consolidation of a city vision. In any case, the EDUSIs are supporting the progress of shaping a coordinated and integrated vision within municipal administration plans and strategies.

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The vision for urban regeneration at city scale and its articulation with urban planning

Daniel García Bernal, Castellón City Council

A number of different interventions and tools have been developed by the Municipality of Castellón for urban regeneration projects. In order to address and alleviate the effects of the low quality of buildings, the lack of socio-environmental services and the polarised socio-economic tissue, the municipality has deployed a holistic set of indicators to determine the priority neighbourhoods and the kind of interventions needed at the neighbourhood level.

The use of digital tools was one of the main novelties in the integrated approach promoted by the Municipality, which has produced accessible and comprehensive spatial plans, leveraging efficient data gathering and visualisation.

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Barcelona and the Urban Regeneration Program

Enric Cremades, Municipal Institute of Urban Planning, Barcelona City Council

The city of Barcelona has a specific urban scape with wide area built after the 50s, before the introduction of technical regulatory plans, especially for thermal isolation. The Municipality has committed to renovate its most deprived and poor neighbourhoods, enhancing the quality of residential buildings, public spaces and overall urban equality and accessibility.

Through different rounds of careful mapping and benchmarking, the Municipality of Barcelona was able to identify different priority areas to intervene on, each one facing a unique set of complex challenges. Moreover, the Municipality embraced a holistic approach, going beyond traditional administrative models to endorse a collaborative and co-creative process with the residents, accompanying them throughout every aspects of the renovation process.

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The experience of the Otxarkoaga neighbourhood in Sestao

Luiskar Delgado, General Director Sestao Berri and President AVS Euskad

The municipality of Sestao, in the metropolitan region of the Basque capital of Bilbao, is currently facing the long-term consequences of industrial decline in the Otxarkoaga neighbourhood. The conversion of a previously industrial area started in the late 90s and has been evolving ever since, with ambitious integrated spatial plans currently enforced. Two macro-strategic documents were adopted by the Municipality of Sestao: one devoted to the conversion of land use and the valorisation of brownfields, and another for the rehabilitation of residential buildings and improvement of the overall quality of local urban spaces.

In order to design and develop comprehensive, integrated and sustainable action plans, the municipality of Sestao adopted multiple sets of indicators, which helped policy-makers in developing tailored and differentiated forms of interventions. Moreover, to promote a receptive and interactive approach to local policy-making, the municipality has established local public offices, in order to involve local citizens and enterprises in the development of revitalization strategies.

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