The primary objective of the project is to help small and medium-sized cities to plan for and develop more attractive and vibrant city centres. Furthermore, help them to execute more effective planning processes, both in terms of time spent and goal achievement potential. This includes examining how well the Planning and Building Act and collaboration work in such processes. An attractive city centre is defined here as a centre the citizens appreciate and use often, and which is perceived as a good place to run different types of business.
In the project, we will investigate i) how properties of regions, cities and centres affect the attractiveness of the centres, and how they can be developed to enhance the attractiveness of the centres, ii) how the current city centre planning processes affect the opportunities to develop attractive centres and how they can be improved, and iii) how the collaboration between relevant actors in the city centre development works and affects the opportunities to develop attractive centres, and how this can be improved. This also includes, among other things, studies related to conservation versus development, e-commerce and new business models, and how new housing can enhance the attractiveness of the centre.
We use several methods: Surveys among residents and businesses, interviews with relevant actors, walk-alongs with inhabitants, analysis of various register data, in situ observations and registrations in streets and areas, photo documentation, , document studies, participation, etc. TØI and NIKU are the research partners in the project and collaborate with the municipalities of Lillehammer, Tønsberg, Kongsberg and Arendal, local city and business associations, and the county municipalities of the cities.
The project started in the spring of 2020, and we had to make some adjustments due to the pandemic. During the period, we have discussed and clarified the design of the project and the choice of cases in close dialogue with the project partners, defined the more detailed research design for all but one work package, and started data collection in three out of five work packages. There has been a close dialogue with the partners in this process, through a number of meetings with and visits to the cities, to get a good understanding of current plans, projects and issues. We have prepared the survey on, among other things, the use of the city center, which will be carried out in the spring of 2022 (postponed from 2021). We have prepared the design to investigate characteristics of the cities and the city center that affect the city centers attractiveness, and a first round of data collections has been carried out in the city center in all four cities. This can be understood as a pilot, and we are now in the process of finalizing the design at the same time as we carry out data collection. We are also ready to analyze register data. We have conducted interviews concerning stakeholder collaboration in city-centre urban regeneration projects in one of four cases, and we are in the process of doing document studies and planning interviews in other cases. We have also mapped and collected the city center plans to be studied and will soon start this part of the work.
The project will be disseminated through articles in scientific journals, through popular science articles and speech, a TØI-report, and guides on city centre planning process and how to measure the effects of changes in the city centres.
The project “Planning, knowledge and collaboration for developing vibrant and attractive city centres” (CITYCENTRE) will develop novel knowledge helping local authorities and politicians in small and medium-sized cities to plan for and develop more attractive and vibrant city centres, and to execute more efficient and effective planning processes resulting in plans with higher goal achievement potential.
City centre planning processes involve and affect local authorities, politicians and a range of public and private actors, all with different interests, objectives, knowledge and power. In addition, the physical dimension in city centres often includes historic buildings and environments subject for preservation. This makes city centre planning processes especially complex, resource demanding and rife with conflicts. These challenges are enhanced by a lack of documented knowledge concerning how land use structure, city centre qualities and characteristics of the built environment, collaboration processes and new retail structures affect city centre attractiveness and vibrancy. CITYCENTRE aims at closing these knowledge gaps. CITYCENTRE will: i) investigate, analyse and compare city centre planning processes, aiming at identifying potentials for improving processes, conflict management, analyses and plans, ii) identify shortcomings in the legal instruments in the PBA, and suggest improvements, iii) develop important, but today absent, knowledge to be used in city and city centre planning and collaboration processes. CITYCENTRE will contribute with a deeper exploration of strengths and shortcomings of relevant legal instruments in the PBA when applied in complex tasks such as city centre planning processes, with the aim to suggest improvements that will ensure better support to local authorities.
CITYCENTRE includes partners from three administrative levels (regional authorities, local authorities, city centre actors) in four case cities.
CITYCENTRE includes a PhD.