At a seminar during Open Days for Regions and Cities this week the President of the European Alliance Group called for more to be done to help the regeneration of town and city centres. This needs to be on smaller scale projects as there is a tendency to direct EU finance to large projects in larger cities but we need to change this mind-set to look at our smaller cities and towns.
The seminar examined the issues local and regional authorities face in the process of regenerating their town and city centres. Many of these centres have lost their 'focus of activity' due to the development of large-scale shopping outlets on the outskirts of towns and also to the development of estates around towns and cities. There are also issues concerning planning and a lack of investment in urban centres. Bringing together policy-makers and practitioners, the discussion followed a focused approach and has put forward policy proposals that could further develop into an 'EU policy for regenerating town and city centres'
Speakers included Cllr Linda Gillham (CEMR) who called for the EU Urban Agenda to recognize local needs and provide fit for purpose instruments to address those needs. Mr Marek Dutkowski, Professor, Szczecin University, Poland who said that towns and cities differ greatly from each other, in terms of history and development and thus no one-size-fits-all solution can be put forward. The problems that city centres encounter vary from traffic, pollution and crime, to loss of attractiveness, visual chaos or mosaic structures. Ms. Gillian McNamara, East Renfrewshire, Scotland who focused on community led and business led regeneration. Cllr Hughie McGrath addressed the issue of previous planning and the need for a traffic management plan, while calling for the preservation of the towns' character and the need for specific tax incentives for town and city centres.
The EU perspective of town and city regeneration from the CEMR to Runnymede, Linda Gillham, Spokesperson on environment of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), Member of Runnymede Borough Council
Poland's Cities and regeneration of it's City Centres, Professor Marek Dutkowski, Szczecin University, Poland
A Scottish town's strategy towards regeneration, Gillian McNamara, principal projects and programmes officer, East Renfrewshire, Scotland
Regenerating Irish towns - the experience of Nenagh, Ireland, Cllr Hughtie McGrath, Member of Tipperary County Council