CONSIDERING that the exercise of the following rights should be based upon solidarity and responsible citizenship implying an equal acceptance of duties, citizens of European towns have a right to:
1. PARTICIPATION: - in pluralistic democratic structures and in urban management characterised by co-operation between all the various partners, the principle of subsidiarity, information and freedom from over-regulation;
2. FINANCIAL MECHANISMS AND STRUCTURES: - enabling local authorities to allocate the financial resources necessary for the exercise of the rights as defined in this Declaration;
3. INTER-MUNICIPAL COLLABORATION: - in which citizens are free and encouraged to participate directly in the international relations of their community;
4. SUSTAINED DEVELOPMENT: - where local authorities attempt to achieve reconciliation of economic development and environmental protection;
5. AN UNPOLLUTED AND HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT: - to an environment free from air, noise, water and ground pollution and protective of nature and natural resources;
6. PREVENTION: - an environment and conditions where pollution, disasters and accidents are prevented and their adverse effects minimised; and where effective and efficient emergency and contingency are provided;
7. NATURAL WEALTH AND RESOURCES:- to the management and husbanding of local resources and assets by a local authority in a rational, careful, efficient and equitable manner for the benefit of all citizens;
8. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: - where the local authority, in a determined and enlightened manner, assumes responsibility for creating, directly or indirectly, economic growth;
9. SERVICES AND GOODS: - to a wide range of accessible services and goods, of adequate quality, provided by the local authority, the private sector or by partnerships between both;
10. EMPLOYMENT: - to adequate employment possibilities; to a share in economic development and the achievement thereby of personal financial autonomy;
11. EQUALITY: - where local authorities ensure that the above rights apply to all citizens, irrespective of sex, age, origin, belief, social, economic or political position, physical or psychological handicap;
12. MULTICULTURAL INTEGRATION: - where communities of different cultural ethnic and religious backgrounds co-exist peaceably;
13. HEALTH: - to an environment and a range of facilities conducive to physical and psychological health;
14. SECURITY: - to a secure and safe town, free, as far as possible, from crime, delinquency and aggression;
15. HOUSING: - to an adequate supply and choice of affordable, attractive housing, offering privacy and tranquillity;
16. PERSONAL FULFILMENT: - to urban conditions conducive to the achievement of personal well-being and individual social, cultural, moral and spiritual development;
17. CULTURE: - to access to and participation in a wide range of cultural and creative activities and pursuits;
18. SPORT AND LEISURE: - to access for all persons, irrespective of age, ability or income, to a wide range of sport and leisure facilities;
19. GOOD QUALITY ARCHITECTURE AND PHYSICAL SURROUNDINGS: - to an agreeable, stimulating physical form achieved through contemporary architecture of high quality and retention and sensitive restoration of the historic built heritage;
20. MOBILITY:- to unhampered mobility and freedom to travel; to a harmonious balance between all street users - public transport, the private car, the pedestrian and cyclists;
21. HARMONISATION OF FUNCTIONS: - where living, working, travelling and the pursuit of social activities are as closely interrelated as possible.
(1) This Declaration arises from the European Urban Charter, adopted by the Council of Europe's Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe on 18 March 1992, a Session held during the annual Plenary Session of the Congress (17-19 March 1992, Strasbourg).
(2) Additional Declarations arose from proposals for revision to the Charter at a Conference in Sofia 16-17 May 2002.
The original European Urban Charter was adopted by the Council of Europe’s Congress of Local and Regional Authorities in 1992. A review of it was approved in 2004.
The original Charter:-
- built upon the work of the Council of Europe on urban policies – the European Campaign for Urban Renaissance (1980 - 82) and an intensive programme of work which covered various aspects of: urban development; healthy towns; regeneration of industrial towns; urban insecurity, crime prevention and drug abuse; protection of architectural and historic heritage; self-help and community development; housing, transport and mobility; culture, financial mechanisms, economic development, natural resources, the urban physical environment, urban planning, the location of facilities and amenities;
- reflected the human rights vocation of the Council of Europe, constituting a series of guidelines to human rights in the built and social urban environment;
- honoured the practice in many member countries whereby decisions affecting urban communities are made principally by local civic leaders;
- underscored local self-government, citizens' participation, the democratic process in planning matters as enshrined in the European Charter of Local Self-Government of the Council of Europe;
- emphasised that the town has always been considered the ideal place in which to gather, somewhere where community and social life is possible and recognition of a town as a community of people with a political framework for the achievement of common aims, without which, in the words of Thomas Hobbes, life is "…nasty, poor, solitary, brutish and short";
- recognised that there are many examples of towns which function well and which provide their inhabitants with a satisfactory quality and way of life; where there is a balance between economic development, use of potential resources, retention of a high quality environment, a high level of public participation, neighbourhood and community development, a sense of belonging and pride;
- rejected the alternative of a neglected, rundown state of inner cities with: poor quality and alien surroundings, environmental degradation and pollution, the emergence of discriminatory attitudes, the deterioration of infrastructure, unsafe and insecure neighbourhoods, social and health problems, deterioration of historic centres, excessive traffic densities. By bringing the European public's attention to these matters, in particular through information and awareness-raising efforts, targeting local and regional authorities, the Council of Europe and the Congress showed the way forward on local government: that the municipality was the foundation stone for building a united Europe, being the level of government closest to the citizen and with which the citizen can most easily identify; also that urban planning required an enlightened local political will to improve the social and built environment.
The purpose of the European Urban Charter was to draw together in a single composite text a series of policies on good urban management at a local level.
2. WHY A NEW CHARTER?
In 2002, the Bureau of the Congress decided to revise the Charter.
The Congress attaches considerable importance to this review, in the belief that the reinforcement of the quality of urban life remains a key to civic stability. The arresting of urban decline and enhancement of the social and built urban environment should be factors in improving attractiveness, wellbeing and economic progress and at the same time, reducing violence and conflict in society.
The updating of the Urban Charter has made it possible to review its scope, current significance, limits and relevance. The review has recognised that towns are complex. They differ considerably in terms of urban development, size, environment and landscape. Their identity, although rooted in history, is constantly changing. They should keep pace with the evolution of society, remain open to a variety of situations, maintain a balance of all kinds of environmental and yet be capable of responding to changing lifestyles, generally higher standards of living.
Ten years on, the revised Charter faces a political, institutional, social and economic situation in Europe, very different from that which prevailed when it was first written.
The review conference Congress of the Charter held in Sofia in 2002, identified several influences on current urban society. The influences identified were:
- European enlargement, opening up to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe;
- competition, free movement, a single European currency;
- globalisation, demographic change and migratory flows;
- increased public awareness and desire to participate in decision-making processes;
- increased recognition by the United Nations, of the importance of the city at world level;
- impact of increasing co-operation and networking among major cities in Europe;
- employment policies, particularly the strengthening of vocational and training programmes to give a closer coincidence and match between employment opportunities and people’s skills;
- need to achieve social inclusion and to tackle the inequalities in society;
- reinforcement of the notion of urban responsibilities and duties, alongside urban rights;
- need to reconcile decentralisation and local democracy in urban areas with coherent and effective over-all management;
- stronger support for local authorities in ensuring that their responsibilities, as defined by constitutions and legislation, are matched by corresponding financial resources;
- impact of new information technology and direct methods of citizen participation as part of developing policies for good, transparent governance and accountability;
- democratic control of the different methods used in the provision by local and other authorities of public utilities, of gas, electricity, water and telecommunications.
- reinforcement of the notion of sustainable development and a stronger desire among citizens for a better quality of environment;
- new approaches to urban security, dealing with different forms of violence;
- improvement of social dialogue; strengthening partnerships between NGOs, communities, citizen and ethnic groups, giving more emphasis to a multicultural society as an asset.
Such considerations have found their way into this revised new Charter.
3. THE NEW CHARTER – A HARBINGER OF THE FUTURE.
The revised new Charter guides the way for the cities and towns of the future in four areas:
In 1987, the Brundtland Commission defined sustainability as: “Development which meets present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to achieve their own needs and aspirations”. This definition is still valid today, but the countries of the world have still to reach a world-wide agreement that environmental improvement, social justice, economic development, must be balanced.
Application of the Brundtland Commission recommendations entailed new approaches to urban planning and urban policy in general, with sustainability as a key issue. This is especially relevant to the conservation of land, mobility, waste disposal and the environmental impacts of development, on people, nature and our heritage. A sustainable urban area should be based on good connections: the relationship of the urban and rural hinterland; between land use and transport; and between the built and natural environments.
This approach requires robust sustainable policies supporting clear environmental, social and economic objectives.
b. The Global Village
The urban areas of the world are drawing closer together due to improving communications (at all levels). A map of Europe today based upon actual travel time, rather than by geographical distance, demonstrates how impressive this change is. As a result, local authorities can no longer think sensibly of towns and cities as self-contained units. European cities and towns will increasingly need to establish their place in what is becoming a virtual global village.
With access becoming easier, each town or city will need to show why it has things to offer that are not available in a nearby town. Successful towns should identify their distinctive roles and play to their special strengths - be this tourism, finance, culture or government.
Heritage can be central to the identity of a town and make it special. A town should strike a balance between modern development and retention of the historic heritage; integrating the new, without destroying the old. A town without its past, is like a person without a memory.
The boundaries of a town are never the limits of urban society, it extends into its region for its workers and open air recreation and the region depends upon a town’s services, for health, culture and economic prosperity.
The overall comprehensive management of the town and its suburban areas is essential to avoid costly and uneven urban services; transport imbalances; over-consumption of environmental resources of the region and poorly controlled waste disposal and pollution.
Towns have a fundamental role in regional, national, European and global development, it is therefore essential for them to be involved in networks of co-operation and exchange at regional, national and international levels, through twinning, contacts, membership of international associations and non-governmental organisations.
c. Diversity and Solidarity
An ideal town is one which: safeguards civic rights; ensures the best possible living conditions; reflects and is responsive to the lifestyles and attitudes of all its inhabitants and users. It is the arena for both urban rights and duties, for a balance between economic and ecological concerns, for reconciliation of the individual and the community, the elimination of public-private conflict, the celebration of differences and diversity.
The new Charter embraces the notion of the value of diversity to acheive solidarity, the important contribution of the individual to urban life. This can be seen where:
- Local authorities improve the quality of urban life through recognising the additional benefits, responsibilities and opportunities arising from the involvement of Central and Eastern European countries;
- Benefits of diversity and solidarity are reinforced by supporting the devolution of decision-making away from the centre towards towns and their communities;
- Solidarity is improved through a closer understanding of new communities and by involving the citizens in the decision-making process so they can perform their duties as well as exercising their rights.
The new Charter contends that such duties and rights are applicable to all urban dwellers irrespective of age, origin, race, belief, socio - economic or political position, physical or psychological disability.
d. Political Will and Professional Skills.
A wide range of factors affect urban life and need to be taken into account in a comprehensive manner. Any action taken in towns requires considerable analysis, study, knowledge and responsibility. Rational urban policy combines determined political will with urban planning proposals prepared by teams of skilled professionals.
Urban policy affects the community as a whole and individuals in many aspects of their private as well as working lives. It is a major public act of intervention and should reflect constant monitoring and regular consultation, between elected representatives, their professional advisers and the public.
4. STRUCTURE OF THE CHARTER
The Charter is divided into five main CHAPTERS: - Governance, Ecology, Economy, Equity and Form. Each Chapter is divided into a number of THEMES, each with an explanation. Within each Theme, a number of Policies are identified, as options.
Theme: Local Democracy and Participation
The European Charter of Local Self-government outlines the principles of local autonomy and local finance. This is increasingly used as the basis for local authorities in defining their approaches to local democracy, citizen participation, subsidiarity.
Local authorities should ensure that all groups are given opportunities to participate in local political life. All community groups should be given equal rights to contribute actively to consultation procedures and public life. All citizens should in turn exercise their rights in a responsible way. Local authorities should therefore strive for improved collaborative planning and policy making, communications, participatory processes.
Local authorities should also be encouraged to put into operation the principles of the European Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level. This recognises the rights of foreigners, who have legally resided in the country beyond a specific period of time, to vote and to stand for municipal election.
1. Citizen participation in local political life should be safeguarded through the right to elect representatives, freely, responsibly, democratically.
Local authority councils are democratically elected and are at the heart of and directly accountable to their communities. Better engagement between local councils and the citizens they serve, will ensure the effectiveness of sustainable solutions to local challenges, reinvigorate local political life. The exercise of citizens’ rights and responsibilities to participate in local democracy is safeguarded, primarily, through delegation of decision-making powers to elected councillors. Subsequently these councillors have the authority to exercise these powers and to implement policies, programmes and projects for the well-being of citizens living in the municipality.
Local freedoms and flexibilities are the key to local government improvement, delivery of high quality public services. This should be achieved by creating the conditions in which political parties may emerge and flourish, by guaranteeing the rights of all residents to participate in the election of local political councillors, without discrimination on grounds of origin, social position or wealth. To be effective, these rights should be exercised in a responsible manner.
2. Citizen participation in local political life should be effective at all levels of the local political and administrative structure.
At the time of their election, local representatives are not necessarily given a mandate covering all local affairs throughout their term of office. In some circumstances, the use of referenda might therefore be beneficial for seeking the publics’ view on a particularly controversial new proposal or policy.
There is sometimes a tendency for local government staff, with their long-term appointments and job security, to acquire a degree of autonomy in their relations with the elected politicians. Organised local interest groups should therefore be acknowledged and given opportunities for participation in local political life. This could include provision for citizens to be represented on committees directly responsible to the executive and in the operation of the administrative machinery (committee control, complaints tribunal and ombudsman).
3. All major projects affecting the future of the community should involve consultation with the citizens.
Citizens are the basis of local democracy and should be informed about all major plans conceived by their elected representatives and the appointed officials. This can be achieved through developing formal public consultation procedures to bridge the gap between local government and the general public. The outcome of consultation should be available for public inspection.
Local authorities should do this by providing guarantees of impartiality in the process of consultation by allowing free access to all public documents; publicising all projects on site; publishing an official local interest news sheet and allowing, recognising and enhancing the role of voluntary organisations. It is important to involve all public and private groups as early as possible in the process so that they can make an input and feel committed and active participants in the decision making process. Wide participation may well cause delays, but it works because the policies that result are generally more acceptable and understandable. Methods of communication should be chosen carefully and designed to be fit for their purpose. Where minority languages and cultural differences are prevalent, these should be catered for. Special mechanisms may be necessary in order to involve hard to reach groups.
Children are the future citizens of our towns and therefore need to be aware of the issues of urban governance in their early years. Their interest and knowledge of future citizenship is a vital issue.
THEME: LOCAL FINANCE
Local authorities shall be entitled within national economic policy, to adequate financial resources of their own, which they may dispose of freely within the framework of their powers. There are great differences in the economic circumstances between authorities, as regards, for example tax bases and structural conditions. Therefore a governing principle is to have an equalisation system to ensure that all municipalities are able to operate on equivalent economic terms.
Municipalities are responsible for activities that have an important bearing on the quality of life of citizens, for example the creation of adequate living conditions for a town’s population.
1. Local authorities should have financial resources corresponding to their responsibilities.
Responsibilities defined by a constitution and related legislation should be matched by corresponding financial resources. At least part of the financial resources of local authorities should derive from local taxes and charges of which, within the limits of statute, they have the power to determine.
The financial systems, on which resources available to local authorities are based, should be of a sufficiently diversified and buoyant nature, as to enable them to keep pace, as far as practically possible, with the real growth of cost of carrying out their tasks.
Other sources of revenue, other than taxes, are fees and charges paid by users of local authority services; also rents from local authority property. In order to increase their income, municipalities might also consider selling real estate property that is in their ownership.
Local priorities should determine how local authorities raise and spend revenue. Councils need discretion to decide how they direct resources, rather than trying to meet local needs with centrally set spending levels.
2. There should be a financial equalisation system.
The protection of financially weaker local authorities calls for the introduction of financial equalisation measures which, depending on the circumstances and the degree of financial autonomy of the authorities, may involve vertical equalisation (from central government) and/or horizontal equalisation (among local authorities). The system should be designed so as to be stable and tenable in the long term, as regards both equalisation effects and funding.
3. Strategic planning and skilled governance improves the long-term economy.
A successful long-term economy could be attained by collaboration between partners in matters of urban planning and development. Models for partnership and shared economical investments are necessary for realisation of projects and future stability of town development.
Geographical Information Systems (GIS) could improve the decision making process by having available more information that can be cross-referenced. Social, economic and environmental data should be combined to show more quickly the wider context in greater detail.
THEME: URBAN MANAGEMENT AND PLANNING
The management of a town should be conducted in a manner that ensures that everyone, whose rights and property are affected to a significant degree by proposed administrative acts and decisions, is informed of them. They should have their views heard and thus play an active part in the decision-making process.
A system should be in place that ensures that no single action at any one level of management is taken, if the consequences of that decision extend beyond those people and that level for which it is intended. If the consequences extend more widely, it has to be taken to the managerial level immediately above. This way, the necessary decisions can be taken within a more comprehensive context.
This system should replace the vertical system of urban management, which still occurs and which frequently creates a series of isolated public management sectors and a non-transparent bureaucracy.
Current urban management is often viewed by citizens as incomprehensible, time-consuming and uneconomic. Encouragingly however, this is changing towards more customer friendly systems.
1. Urban management and planning should be based upon accurate and up-to-date information on the characteristics and special features of a town.
Deciding priorities and making proposals and important decisions should be based upon an initial and regularly up-dated research and analysis. This should cover the town's special features, potential, activities, development capacities and resources. Urban development patterns and urban policies can be worked out more reliably and inspire greater confidence, if the area they cover has been thoroughly explored and its capacity for change defined.
Such analysis will include a survey of demographic and environmental capacities, geographical and topographical features, of citizens’ aspirations. This will help to determine a balance between, on the one hand individual freedom and projects benefiting the community, health and safety, raising of cultural and artistic standards and, on the other hand, promoting growth and development.
2. Local political decisions should be based on regional and urban planning conducted by teams of professionals.
Local political decisions should be based on comprehensive and up-to-date information, a variety of reasoned choices proposed by teams of regional and urban planning professionals.
Urban planning requires assessment by professionals and experts of projects, programmes, strategies and plans shaping the physical, social, economic and environmental structures within a town. This should be based on balancing growth and conservation, the achievement of sustainable development, the resolution of conflict.
Such planning should be followed by a process of evaluation, i.e. assessing the success or otherwise of proposals by monitoring, reviewing and analysing, after implementation, whether predictions and decisions were justified. Such evaluation thus concerns the achievements, political acceptability and conformity with higher levels of policy.
3. Every town should have a comprehensive plan with a vision and action plan for the future.
A comprehensive plan maps out the vision and priorities for the town and should be prepared in consultation with local citizens and key organisations, such as local chambers of commerce, major businesses, various public bodies and voluntary organisations.
The process of conceiving a vision is cyclical. It starts with problem analysis, then conception and then a plan of action. Implementation, monitoring and target setting are the final stages.
An analysis is needed to identify the beneficial features of the current situation, which should be maintained in the transition process and identifying area for change. Also, what are the problems and the challenges of the future? This could be done by a risk analysis of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT), a process that is tried and tested in the business world.
Formulating a plan of action concerns different levels. There is the level of strategic planning and a level of operational planning. A strategic plan can be formulated for a period of for example 5-20 years. Operational planning covers a shorter period of time of about 1 to 3 years. Phasing of a strategic plan into operational stages provides the opportunity to “learn by doing” and improving operations from year to year. Budgets should be allocated annually, within a longer-term financial strategy programme.
THEME: INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
The increasing use of the Internet has, in a very short time, given many people access to a vast range of services, information and decision-making, what might be called e- democracy. In recent years interactive services are being used by increasing numbers of people in their daily lives, for example bank transactions. This development gives local authorities completely new possibilities to provide citizens with a better service through a wider e-democracy. The aim should be to create a better dialogue and strengthened communication among politicians, staff members and citizens through electronic meeting points. The aim should also be to increase the accessibility and efficiency of services to citizens.
In order to achieve e-service and e-democracy, towns should develop an e-strategy. Such a strategy should see that access is available to all, no matter what their level of expertise or income. Also, that the information made available is easily understood and offered in different languages wherever possible. The overall aim should be to guarantee an accurate answer to all enquiries.
1. Citizens should have access to a town web-site.
With a well-designed web site, citizens can easily obtain useful information whenever it is needed. A “knowledge bank” with facts about for example, services and town activities should be built up. Such information is easy to update in comparison to printed information. Places with information points should be freely and easily available and basic training offered to those who need help in understanding how to operate the system.
2. Citizens should have access to e-service with interactive communication.
With an interactive communication system, citizens could access and have a dialogue with politicians and staff members at electronic meeting points. Citizens could, for example give their view on different matters such as urban development plans, building activities or traffic changes. They could set up “chat rooms” to discuss issues with other people. Frequently asked questions could be placed on the Internet and an interactive service provided with questions and answers. With e-service, citizens could make applications, announcements, complain about different issues. This service should be available on the Internet 24 hours a day; this would thus increase the standard of service and accessibility.
In order to handle electronic services and all information and opinions given an accessible and efficient e-administration should be created. It would be essential to keep this service up-to-date and this would require adequate resources.
Local authorities are primarily responsible for providing and administering community services; guiding and controlling development; and protecting the environment and fabric of urban areas and their rural hinterlands. This role is a creative one, ensuring that land is properly utilised, architectural heritage is safeguarded, development is of a high quality and the citizens are fully involved and their aspirations met.
Common objectives for the advancement of Europe in terms of sustainability, competitiveness, social and economic cohesion, will be achieved by collaborative strategies between local authorities.
1. Towns need to collaborate with each other.
Collaboration is needed between towns to avoid mutually damaging competition and to promote a “polycentric” system, in which each town or city is able to carry out a role that is distinctive to it and is suited to its size and position. Small and medium sized towns should not be swamped by the excessive dominance of large cities and the great metropolitan areas.
2. There should be greater collaboration within individual towns.
Often different agencies and sectors, such as health, education, transport, environment, economic development and land use pursue independent policies. For example, hospitals relocate from central sites into modern premises on the periphery of the city. This is likely to prejudice the economic strength of the centre, generate more car traffic and disadvantage those dependent on public transport. The concept of “spatial planning” encourages these agencies to co-ordinate their plans and services towards a common set of objectives.
Towns should identify and operate cross cutting themes. The aim of this is to strengthen the profile of the whole town and would help prevent the isolation of groups isolated inside communities. A cross cutting team could help with social inclusion, settlement, accommodation and services, business enterprise development, etc.
3. Regional authorities should collaborate with other key stakeholders.
The Charter rightly positions the local and regional authorities at the centre of urban policy. Increasingly, however, local authorities exercise that leadership by collaborating with other key stakeholders. These partnerships provide collective ownership of common goals. For example, some towns are experiencing a growth in the cost of housing so great that substantial parts of the community either are denied access to housing, or are condemned to ghettoes of sub-standard housing. In consequence, some services are threatened by the loss of key workers, priced out of their city. At the same time, social polarisation into the very rich and the very poor moves on apace. This problem should be tackled by a partnership of local government, housing agencies, the private housing market and employers agreeing planning, housing, economic development and financing policies.
The world’s resources are heavily affected by urbanisation. At the end of the last millennium, the world’s population had reached six billion, meaning that it had doubled in 40 years. It may grow to nine billion or more by 2050, with the highest growth in the least developed countries. Urban areas tend to grow faster than rural areas, because their economic and socio-cultural opportunities attract inward migration. Over 45% of the world’s population and 70% of the population of Europe already live in urban settlements.
Towns are great consumers of natural resources to supply them with food, water, materials and energy. If resources are consumed too rapidly, nature is not able to restore itself and will loose its resilience. Over-exploitation of natural resources is a serious risk.
At the same time, the concentration of people in the world’s urban areas provides an opportunity to develop products, services and lifestyles in a more suitable way. The adoption of environmental technologies, practices and lifestyles in these urban settings can lessen the environmental impact of cities whilst simultaneously providing a motor for economic growth and a more equitable use of the world’s resources.
Global warming is a reality. Flooding, water table change, retreat of glaciers, water shortage and heat waves are commonplace. The effects on the economy, health, tourism, transport are self-evident. The volume of greenhouse gases emitted by European towns per capita is among the highest in the world. The same towns and urban regions offer possibilities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy saving and reduction of wastes.
The wider adoption of energy efficient building practices, clean methods of transport and development of renewable energy systems can tackle climate change issues, create new markets in these sectors, improve the urban environment and improve quality of life. Unless resource consumption by the developed world can be reduced, the growing demand may lead to more global tension.
This is the background against which European towns should respond with their own proposals for sustainability and reduction of greenhouse gases.
1. A firm commitment to sustainable policies should be introduced and maintained.
The approach to planning cities should be focused on sustainable policies which support clear, interlinked environmental, social and economic objectives.
This means compact settlements to allow lower energy consumption, with local amenities and employment to reduce the need for travel; convenient, co-ordinated, safe and comfortable public transport; improving quality of urban life to reduce development pressure on rural areas; protecting the natural environment and creating high green spaces; designing buildings and infrastructure to minimise consumption of resources; minimising pollution and waste and maximising recycling.
Public authorities should lead the way by promoting appropriate policies and practices, but by also seeking to work in close partnership with other key players. Sustainable urban management is dependant on the co-operation of public bodies, private companies, community organisations, under-represented groups and the residents of cities and towns. Local authorities should seek to further develop collaboration to include all these players, as far as possible, in creating a common vision of a sustainable future and making decisions to work towards its fulfilment.
Local government should support continued work in accordance with the Agenda 21 principles agreed in Rio 1992 and complemented in Johannesburg 2002. In Europe, the role of the Aalborg Commitments, adopted at the Fourth European Conference on Sustainable Cities and Towns, should in particular be applied as a political development platform and useful tool for continued strategic and practical work in cities and towns.
2. Public authorities have a responsibility to husband and manage natural and energy resources in a coherent and rational manner.
The principle of sustainable development requires that local and regional authorities accept fully their responsibilities in limiting their use of non-renewable resources and increase the use of secondary products from recycled waste and from renewable sources.
Local authorities should seek to work in partnership with other organisations in their region, to minimise the impact of urban development on the environment and maintain and improve quality of life. Sustainable construction, transport, consumption, renewable energy, are areas which should be promoted and supported at the local level and incorporated into all internal activities within towns and promoted amongst other local players.
Public administrations have a huge potential impact through their own purchasing policy, planning guidelines and political and practical decision making, which should always incorporate sustainability best practice. Key areas for action include construction, transport, consumption, waste management, water management and biodiversity management.
Where feasible, markets for high quality regional produce should be supported and developed to promote regional competitiveness and economic development, promote regional heritage and distinctiveness and minimise transportation. Development should wherever possible use locally sourced materials and workers.
3. Local authorities should adopt firm policies to prevent pollution.
Towns suffer heavily from pollution, produced by industry, traffic, private household domestic heating. Short-term measures, such as discharging solid and water wastes into rivers and lakes, burning of waste, should be replaced by reduction of emissions at source, application of clean technology, introducing renewable energy sources, appropriate traffic management systems, use of alternative fuels and the recycling and reuse of waste.
Local government has access to both “carrot and stick” tools with which to address pollution problems. Partnership processes should be developed with local businesses and the general public to develop best practice and to mainstream that practice. Legislative processes can follow behind as good practice is developed in order to eliminate bad practice, thereby providing a more level playing field for market leaders in the field of environmental innovation.
Planning guidelines, development contracts, local environmental codes are examples of formal tools which can be used by local authorities to increase demands on businesses and developers in towns.
The role of information for the public is crucial. This implies provision of information about clean technology to local firms; a network of information and advisory centres and pioneering new approaches. Equally, consumers should be informed about emission reduction, the use of appropriate materials and the avoidance of certain packaging and cleaning substances.
4. Towns should adopt policies for compact and mixed use land development.
In the past, zoning and separation of the main urban functions of housing, industries and transport was often seen as the ideal solution. However, such separation of activities into single land use zones is ultimately unsustainable, leading to larger volumes of transport and greater use of land. More transport implies more pollution and more extensive built-up areas of land reduce land available for agriculture, water catchments, forestry and adversely, damages natural habitats.
Local authorities should formulate land use plans for compact and denser urban development and a mix of functions. ‘Brownfield’ land consisting of disused and previously developed areas, often former industrial land, may provide the possibility of regeneration, once the removal of soil contamination has taken place. This ‘brownfield’ development makes beneficial use of previously developed land rather than open ‘green’ fields. This approach to development also implies pollution prevention; better control of noise and air pollutants from businesses, homes and transport.
THEME: ENVIRONMENT AND NATURE
Urban areas are often thought of in terms of the built environment, but green space always plays an important role in the image of a town and in its social and ecological functions. Green space and water have a key function in urban climate management; they allow ventilation, absorb dust particles from air, balance humidity and urban temperatures. The quality and size of green spaces obviously are important in the urban setting, alongside the links between these areas and links to the surrounding region.
The role of parks and gardens should not be underestimated as havens for wildlife in the towns. Even brownfield sites and marginal land, often important locations for new development in order to develop a compact city, contain valuable self-established plant and animal communities, sometimes of significant ecological importance.
Nature conservation areas and the presence of vegetation and water add to a town’s character, furnish it with interesting features, support wildlife and have a decisive and recognisable influence on the overall townscape.
The presence of green spaces is vital for a better quality of life, enabling people to escape from the built environment and experience nature and wild life. This is part of the self-development of individuals and enables children born in an urban environment to come into contact with the natural world. Nature and towns are not mutually exclusive concepts.
Reference should be made to the European Landscape Convention of the Council of Europe, in particular its definitions, with its call for “quality objectives”, “landscape management” and “landscape planning”. The Convention applies to all territories, therefore covers urban landscapes.
1. Local authorities have a responsibility to protect nature and green spaces.
Local authorities should husband their natural heritage. They have a responsibility to maximise environmental quality, manage the urban climate, protect natural systems and encourage biodiversity, by stimulating clean and healthy local regional food production, transport and consumption.
Green areas, nature conservation and landscape programmes are fundamental elements in urban areas, contributing to air quality and a pleasant urban climate. Clean and unpolluted rivers, wild plants, organic gardening, choice of appropriate species, the re-use of marginal sites, e.g. wasteland, overgrown cemeteries, riverbanks, railway sidings, can accommodate a wide spectrum of flora and fauna, supporting their own systems and enriching local biodiversity. Provision of “green corridors" and cultivation of domestic gardens are also important for local wildlife.
Towns should be attractive, with human scale buildings and spaces, trees and greenery, control of car access. Once created, green areas must be protected and managed. Greening should not be a cosmetic after-thought; it is a long term activity that will eventually boost a town’s image by providing wide-ranging amenities. This offers long term social, economic and environmental benefits.
Priority areas for nature protection should be established via an analysis of local conditions (habitat mapping) and regular monitoring. The use of vegetation in open spaces should be encouraged and should reflect local, historic and natural characteristics.
Urban green space is vital for the creation of liveable towns and cities in which there is space for recreation and fresh air at their heart. The social impact of green space should not be under-estimated and as such, its importance in the physical development of children and other residents, the creation of attractive working environments to support the attractiveness of the locality for businesses and employees alike.
2. Nature conservation can develop community involvement and pride.
Vegetation should be used as a means for stimulating community and individual pride in one's locality and an identification with it. This should be done through the development of urban woodlands and forests, parks, amenity allotments, roofs, balconies and winter gardens, adventure playgrounds, recovery of semi-public areas for biotopes around tenement blocks, green trails, nature and school gardens and field study centres. Greening roofs, walls and courtyards should create a variety of habitats for different plants and animals, which is essential if a responsible relationship with nature and natural resources is to be created.
City farms and study gardens for children play a valuable role in the establishment of direct contact with nature.
3. Towns should be protected from natural and man-made disasters.
A safe and healthy environment is fundamental to the perception of the quality of urban life. Nowadays there are a wide range of problems threatening both the citizens and the environment such as natural disasters like floods, landslides, earthquakes and droughts, which cannot be foreseen. The tsunami in the Indian Ocean in December 2004, is an all too tragic example.
Other events menacing urban health are the predictable calamities which occur where ecosystems are constantly threatened, or where planning in the past did not take special care concerning the location of settlements in risky environments. There are also risks and accidents arising from fires, road, rail and air travel, dangerous human activities and operations can cause nuclear accidents, industrial pollution, poisoning of soil, water and the air. We are also all at risk from both internal and international terrorism.
Local authorities should strive for more environmental protection and resource management concentrating particularly on the improvement of environmental quality. This includes eliminating the main sources of pollution, the rehabilitation of deteriorating areas, preventing development in dangerous areas e.g. places liable to flooding. Risk assessments and protection plans, development of interregional co-operation programmes for maintaining the overall quality and safety of the environment, also need to be undertaken. Locational choices in development plans should always be accompanied by a risk assessment.
Public bodies should collaborate in the prevention of disasters and accidents and the provision of contingency measures, with personnel trained to act swiftly and effectively. There should also be available theraputic, remedial and rehabilitation services to cope with the aftermarth of disasters and accidents.
THEME: RESOURCE USE AND THE ENVIRONMENT
The consumption of raw materials, water and energy and production of waste by urban areas necessitate efficient management. Efficient services in the water, waste and energy sectors are essential for a healthy, sustainable and prosperous cities and towns.
Waste products can potentially be utilised as an environmental resource i.e. using organic waste to produce biogas or compost, or the use of waste process heat from industry or thermal power stations can provide indoor heating for homes and commercial buildings. Energy extraction from waste should only be used in an appropriate waste management system, whose guiding principles are to minimise and recycle prior to energy recovery. Urban concentration should provide efficient co-generation of electricity and heat in residential areas.
1. Citizens should have access to a supply of safe drinking water and water for domestic and recreational purposes.
Towns should provide their citizens with water. Sustainable water management for liveable, healthy cities depends upon: the efficient use of drinking water; the prevention of pollution; the repair of natural water systems; and the adjustment of the form of the built environment to the demands of water flows, for instance by limiting the amount of non-penetrable hard covered surface.
An overall water management plan, positioning the water needs of urban areas within the context of regional watershed management, is required. An important part of a local water plan is the layout of service pipes and sewage systems together with storm water facilities, ponds and retention basins. Innovative forms of water management, including open storm water facilities etc should be considered as ways of alleviating pressure on conventional systems and providing added value in the urban environment. Appropriate design of urban spaces and green space can help conserve water and decrease water demand and flooding risk.
Future planning should take account of the potential impact of climate change and all development on the flood plains of water courses should be strongly discouraged.
2. Affordable energy for heating, cooling and other domestic purposes should be provided for all citizens.
A strategy for sustainable energy management should include: use of renewable energy sources (hydropower, wind, geothermal energy, biogas and solar); reduced use of fossil fuels; compact urban planning and building and efficient energy distribution. Local authorities should strive to dramatically improve the energy performance of its own building stock and promote more energy efficient construction, renewal and efficient energy systems throughout their urban area, incorporating passive design and best environmental technologies. National and local authorities’ building codes should contain requirements for energy performance of all buildings. In architectural design, good climatic practice, including orientation towards or away from the sun should be required thus reducing energy use.
3. Local authorities must devise effective and sustainable waste management.
Wherever people build, live and work, waste products are generated. Much of this waste is damaging to the environment and public health. When not separated, as a result of inefficient infrastructure, it cannot be recycled and must be dumped or incinerated.
Local authorities should promote the use of recyclable products, organise efficient disposal, collection and recycling systems and provide public amenities for separated storage and recycling of waste. Towns could also handle waste streams and use solid wastes for the production of new materials, energy or compost. Energy recovery from waste should be seen as the end of a set of activities whose primary aim should be to minimise and re-use waste.
Towns should also develop an information and education system to promote awareness concerning the sustainable purchase of goods, a better understanding of related waste issues.
THEME: THE TOWN AS A PRODUCT AND AS A PRODUCER
Urban centres and their networks play a significant role both in the local and in the global economy as they are the main poles of production, distribution, exchange and consumption. A sound economic development of a town is essential for the standard of life of all its users: residents, workers, visitors from outside and tourists from abroad.
Any action towards economic development should always be related to social well-being, environmental enhancement and other measures, aimed at the improvement of quality of life in urban areas.
1. Towns should strive to remain motors of economic development.
Within the global system of production European towns have lost most of their manufacturing industries to areas of the world offering cheaper labour costs. European towns therefore transformed most of their productive industries into service and trade activities in the tertiary sector; these have become the main vector of economic development.
Local authorities should strive to achieve economic development and job creation while considering their towns as main economic poles of services, trade, investment and consumption. Economic development should take into account the specific qualities and potentials of a town within its regional context, focusing on tailor-made integrated programmes; these should both strengthen advantages to realise opportunities and reduce disadvantages to counteract weaknesses.
2. Global competitiveness and local specialisation are important elements of economic development.
As economies expand on a world scale, products and services are distributed to the global market, towns should try to become competitive by enhancing their special qualities and local products and services. Therefore local authorities should try to develop and enhance local differences, specialities and qualities. These elements represent the key for achieving successful economic development and local employment.
Towns should strive for a pleasant environment of high quality, since this will help to retain existing economic activities and generate new ones. Nevertheless, while building competitive advantages, towns should take care that the business they attract does not diminish the urban quality of life and does not damage the environment.
3. Economic development depend upon adequate infrastructure.
All growth requires appropriate supportive infrastructure, such as telecommunications, transportation, utility services, social and communal facilities. This has been traditionally a major function of public authorities, providing much of the infrastructure without which the urban area cannot survive.
A major responsibility of public authorities is to identify any deficiencies in the existing infrastructure and any possible new links with other infrastructure, so as to exploit them and gain the maximum benefit. Local authorities should include this in all plans for socio-economic development, with its associated policies, proposals, strategies and programmes.
THEME: PARTNERSHIP AND COOPERATION
Towns do not stand alone, but they are part of wider city-networks facing common issues and challenges, thus local governments have the task to involve all relevant parties in making good use of opportunities and solving common problems. The economic development of a town very much depends on partnerships and co-operation. A town should develop close relationships with its surrounding regions and countryside, to stimulate economic development and enlist the support of other towns, partners and agencies in sharing tasks and spacialisation.
1. A town is economically part of its surrounding region or hinterland.
Local authorities, in preparing their plans, policies, strategies and programmes for their administrative areas, should examine the inter-relationship of their town within the region and city-networks. This should distinguish between different territories and trends with due attention to their specific needs and to their mutual potentials. This is needed in order to take into account any competing or complementary plans of other municipalities, to position investments and to encourage collaboration.
Towns should seek to link up with the surrounding regions, encompassing both infrastructural and functional elements in order to gain a sufficient critical mass in terms of population, economic activities, services and labour availability. Any town is a node of wider city-networks, which implies co-operation and mutual support. At the same time, economic activities should be attentive to sensitive territories and promote eco-compatible land-uses. This involves establishing cross boundary working relations with other local authorities and at a regional level.
2. Towns should improve their urban-rural relations.
The traditional urban-rural relationship, characterised by a hierarchical dependence of the rural area around the town, by the separation of the two areas in economic terms, has led to a predominance of the town over the rural hinterland. Both contexts provide relevant economic relationships to each other that should be properly developed. Socio-economic stability and sustainable growth also depend on well functioning towns promoting strategic regional development and well balanced urban-rural relationships, as well as preventing uncontrolled urban sprawl.
Economic marginalisation of rural areas should find countervailing processes in new integration with the urban system. This should not be based just on agricultural policies, but on integrated economic and spatial planning programmes, consistent with the development policies of the entire region.
3. Collaboration between public and private partners is an important asset in urban economic growth and development.
Given that the provision of infrastructure and services is essential to all economic sectors and that public authorities cannot always afford the improvements required by urban economic development, consideration should be given to a reallocation of responsibilities for the provision of infrastructure and services. A considerable effort by public authorities and private investors and stakeholders is therefore required to make effective use of resources and to tackle intensive and often interrelated pressures.
Collaboration with the private sector is essential. Seeking to enrol the private sector in the pursuit of public objectives stimulates private sector enterprise and initiates proposals, which may result in more innovative and effective solutions. Collaboration between those two sectors is a means to merge private efficiency and public control.
The opportunity for employment is a right of all people of working age in the community. With this expectation, the urban population looks to local authorities, in association with other governmental bodies and the private sector, to facilitate and stimulate the provision of employment, particularly for young people seeking their first job. Local authorities have a role as economic enablers, assisting enterprises and creating conditions within a town that are favourable to economic development. This offers the widest possible range of skill opportunities with commensurate training and apprenticeship.
1. The provision of equal access to employment must be a concern of public authorities.
Appropriate measures to guarantee equal access to employment should include encouraging the establishment of businesses and economic activities and availability of work in the public and semi-public sectors for young people, especially women and disadvantaged groups. Particular emphasis should be laid on combating clandestine employment through the strengthening of legislation, reinforcement of controls and encouragement to employers to offer legitimate job opportunities and apprenticeships.
Employment policies should enable the strengthening of vocational and training initiatives to give a closer match between the employment available and the skills of people.
The principle of equal treatment in respect of working conditions for immigrant communities is stipulated in the European Convention on the Legal Status of Migrant Workers. Such equality should be a key objective of all authorities and employers.
2. Labour market policy should be linked to the development of towns.
European towns should strive to implement employment policies which aim at achieving more equity in the distribution of employment, in the economic development of towns. These policies should provide for unskilled, as well as highly skilled and specialised employment and ensure that the geographical distribution of jobs does not create any areas of marginalisation.
Local measures for training and recruitment should be linked to the main urban initiatives and development patterns to safeguard employment in the long-term and a sound spatial development of towns.
3. Towns should promote innovation and creativity.
Much of today’s economic innovation is related to information technology. The context is also changing and both innovation and creativity are linked to a mix of economic, social and cultural activities that make towns attractive for new and different kinds of people, students, young workers and foreign experts.
Towns should strive to identify a specific sector of economic activities which complement the local and regional characteristics, to enhance both physical and socio-cultural qualities becoming attracting poles for new activities to settle down and for employing creative people. Towns should enhance those spatial and cultural qualities that help to distinguish one town from another in their potential for creative activities and innovation.
Good accessibility and freedom to move are key elements for the development of economic activities, markets, resources, the well-being of populations. Congestion causes economic inefficiencies not only for residents, but also for investors, who tend to move their activities elsewhere. Public authorities should strive to lessen the need to travel by improving accessibility, implementing more sustainable means of urban mobility and linking different transportation modes. Also new information and communication technologies should be more widely available to allow citizens to access information electronically from all public places.
1. Good accessibility is a key factor in economic development.
The increase of economic activities generates new traffic patterns that often result in congestion, thus reducing the efficiency of towns and their urban quality. In planning and programming transport infrastructure, local authorities should ensure good accessibility for both people and activities, thus achieving both economic growth and sustainable development.
A consistent and complementary approach to planning activities and programmes, in collaboration with the surrounding regions and towns should be provided. This should be related to a careful allocation of transport investments, to a particular care in the protection of the urban and the natural environment.
2. Market policies should be used as a tool to counteract unnecessary commuter flows.
The main productive activities and services are often concentrated in specific urban areas, thus causing severe problems of commuter flows especially during rush hours, with intensive increase in traffic, noise and pollution.
Local authorities should therefore seek to allocate employment in spatial terms so as to avoid its concentration in a few congested places. This should be done both with effective planning decisions and location policies that, at the same time, improve opportunities for working at home and making working hours more flexible.
3. New communication and information technologies should be accessible for all.
Access to information is nowadays becoming an important element of socio-economic development, offering wide communication possibilities. E-commerce will in the near future probably replace traditional trading patterns, especially where offering goods, products and services on a global market.
Towns should provide wide accessibility to all citizens to new forms of telecommunication and information. All public places, such as administrative buildings, schools, libraries and railway stations should make internet available to everyone.
THEME: SOCIAL COHESION
European towns are becoming poly-ethnic and multicultural living and working places for all. In this respect, there should be no discrimination by social status, class, age, culture, religion, physical or mental disability or gender of citizens in European urban society.
Such a principle is not, however, always respected. Immigrant communities or minorities with different traditions, cultures, languages and religions are sometimes not accepted into the community, with the result of increasing social exclusion, solitude, fear and lower standards of living. Other disadvantaged groups such as elderly, invalid or sick people may enjoy their basic individual rights only through the understanding and the support of others.
Diverse groups of people coexist in towns, having different claims and needs from the built environment and the provision of facilities, services and work. Multi-cultural and poly-ethnic policies and programmes targeted at different groups are a key to an improved way of life and to more social cohesion in towns. This can lead to cultural and economic enrichment for towns, assist in managing the co-existence of groups of different cultural backgrounds and social ability. It could also help co-operation, recognising that the result is of benefit to the whole community. The notion of European citizenship is thus advanced, based on active democracy fostering a sense of belonging and in the promotion of a distinctive identity even in the free expression of different beliefs.
1. Non-discrimination is a fundamental aspect of urban living.
Acceptance of differences and tolerance are the basis for an equitable urban society. All groups should be granted the right to protect their interests and maintain their social and cultural identity. However, no group should prevail over others, nor impose its habits, beliefs or traditions. All citizens deserve respect as human beings and the respect of the European urban identity should be a concern of all local authorities. This implies policies and education which deal more effectively with social exclusion and tackle the inequalities in society incorporating an acceptance of the cultural differences of all groups, fostering dialogue and exchange between all cultures and religions.
Local authorities should act against any form of discrimination in order to ensure equal access to all citizens - irrespective of race or ethnic origins, age, class, or social ability - to public places, employment training, schools, housing, cultural activities and other aspects of life in towns.
2. Co-operation with and between different social groups is essential.
Close, constant consultation and co-operation should take place on a regular basis between the different groups and the various bodies responsible for urban planning and socio-cultural activities and policies. This will ensure the inclusion of the special requirements for different social groups in the development of towns.
Consultation in the planning stage, not just during development and implementation, enhances the quality of the services provided and improves the efficiency of integration measures adopted by the local authorities. Such consultation should occur in respect of planning the urban environment as a whole; schemes for streets, public spaces, amenities and transport; on building regulations and on applications for planning permission.
3. Towns should be designed in such a way that all citizens have access to all places.
All places in towns should be accessible to everyone. If necessary, special facilities or times for different groups should be available. This accessibility to use public buildings and amenities must not, however, produce undue inconvenience to other users, nor be unrealistic or too costly.
It is neither advisable, nor possible, to design or equip towns completely for those suffering from a handicap. An over-protective environment should be avoided, in favour of one that enables the less mobile, such as children, the elderly and people with disabilities to adjust to their environment and participate fully in the normal everyday life of the community.
THEME:SAFETY AND HEALTH
Towns have a unique potential and role to play in promoting and maintaining health. The aim of local authorities should be to promote and implement healthy public policies in all aspects of urban life. It is also particularly important to create social conditions which enable people to look after themselves individually and collectively and provide general care in the event of sickness or accident.
1. The urban environment should be conducive to the health of all citizens.
In addition, authorities should keep the most sensitive urban areas under constant review, providing special facilities for the very young, elderly and those with disabilities, by generally promoting community development and social renewal.
2. Urban health involves the co-ordination of municipal action with international programmes.
The principal objective of international exchanges such as ‘twinning’ between towns is to enable individual towns within such a network to develop, via an exchange of experience and information. This includes new public health programmes, defining joint actions; validating health initiatives and developing explicit political commitment.
This means that municipalities should be encouraged to join international environmental health movements, particularly implementing the principles for Healthy Cities of the World Health Organisation.
THEME: CRIME PREVENTION AND URBAN SECURITY
Security is the concern of everyone and a town cannot be fully enjoyed unless the inhabitants' security is paramount, unless fear of crime is reduced. This applies both at the urban scale and in the public realm and in private spaces. A number of strategies can be employed to create a safe environment.
The perception of security results from a variety of influences that affect the locational choices of citizens. If a part of a town is felt to be insecure this will be avoided and become marginalised, enter into a cycle of exclusion and insecurity. Encouraging shops, cafes, recreational spaces and residential areas to be part of public areas by means of planning, design and management strategies will ensure they are protected by the natural surveillance of local owners and visitors.
Poorly maintained areas give an impression that no one cares, whereas if an area is easy to maintain to a high standard, it is also less likely that crime and antisocial behaviour will occur.
1. Crime prevention requires an understanding by local authorities and the police of the economic and social background.
Economic and social exclusion is caused by religious, ethnic, cultural, financial income and racial reasons. Poverty and homelessness are threats menacing urban stability and quality of life. Urban security should be considered in its dual dimension of objective safety and subjective perception of a break-down In security. Requirements differ, for example between the needs of the existing indigenous population and newcomers including immigrants. They can even conflict with each other in the sense that security for one group can represent a source of insecurity for another.
Local authorities should collaborate with the police by attacking the root causes of violence and criminality. Local authorities should analyse the causes of social instability, implement appropriate social development policies, restore social ties, develop mutual support structures and promote partnership-based action programmes.
2. Local authorities should understand the relationship between an adverse built environment and insecurity.
Places which demonstrate a strong sense of belonging to someone and being cared for are less likely to be targeted by crime and vandalism. Places which are anonymous and show no sense of civic pride or ownership, tend to attract undesirable visitors who will claim the space. This implies striving for a deeper sense of ownership in the local population and for instilling civic pride in city users. This also involves defining local surveillance procedure on a partnership basis, particularly in respect of isolated or entrapment zones which might become dangerous places. Local authorities should support the police by advising businesses and citizen groups on ways to reduce the opportunities for theft, protection of property, neighbourhood watch schemes.
As discussed in the Chapter on Form, town planning and urban design should pay particular attention to the renewal of spaces in order to enhance urban security by nurturing the vitality of towns. This can be addressed by integrating functions and improving the quality and safety of places through better lighting and maintenance, by enhancing design and building solutions, by more effective public transport and reliable time-tables. The planning of public places and services should promote vitality, accessibility, flexibility and variety and constantly seek for urban safety and security. Public and private interventions should aim to improve maintenance and renewal of the urban fabric and prevent degradation.
3. Effective urban security and crime prevention depends upon close co-operation between all public authorities in the local community.
One of the principal causes of crime is social alienation and the difficulties encountered, particularly by young people, in identifying with a culture, the family, the school or society as a whole. Drug addiction is a major cause of crime, especially where it involves trafficking and where it involves dependent persons committing crimes in order to obtain drugs. Whilst the prosecution of dealers is primarily a matter for the police and judicial authorities, the local community as a whole should organise itself to reduce demand.
The misuse of alcohol by heavy drinking also generates a great deal of violence and damage to people and property.
Control of this situation is largely the responsibility of the police, but they can be greatly helped by community workers, teachers, youth and social workers who are in touch with individuals and also by programmes for monitoring target groups. Particular attention should be given to sections of the population in difficulty, not by creating special structures, but by means of comprehensive approaches incorporating of economic integration, education, treatment facilities and good housing. To reinforce its effectiveness, the police should maintain a dialogue with citizens and with their representatives, with the aim of co-ordinating actions with of other bodies involved in the community.
The home is the personal space and the place with which everybody identifies. Access and right to housing are enshrined in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and towns play a determinant role in the provision of housing. Nevertheless, the pressure for housing is growing fast throughout Europe.
Experience suggests that there are three elements to successful housing strategies:
First, diversity is needed. Effective programmes tend to have a mix of tenures from the social to the private and a mix of housing styles and sizes of unit. Even old high-rise estates have been rescued by selective demolition, renovation and variation in the height, form and tenure of buildings. This is often accompanied by the introduction of greater variety of activities, including small industries and services and the improvement of the amount, quality and safety of open spaces and of facilities for younger people.
Secondly, housing programmes should be developed in association with the work of other agencies. For example the revitalisation of run-down housing is more likely to work if it is accompanied by improvements in the training and employment opportunities of residents. Good quality housing combines attractive built form with social and economic stability.
Thirdly, there is a need to plan for more sustainable housing. This is partly a matter of making much fuller use of sustainable forms of design and construction so that, for example, better use is made of materials and of energy sources. It also means planning for a more compact city, so that the problems of suburban sprawl, the unsustainable consumption of rural and agricultural land, are minimised.
1. Diversity, choice, mobility in housing should be ensured.
Every person should be entitled to adequate housing. The supply of housing should match the different needs of single people and families and respond to the various changes in lifestyle, life cycle and socio-economic conditions.
Local authorities should pursue diversity of housing, occupancy status and location and intervene to counteract market inadequacies. Residential mobility should be stimulated to provide more flexibility in the housing market. Local authorities should ensure through their planning powers, a wide choice of housing accommodation, with a variety of housing styles, sizes and adequate standards, in order to fulfil all needs and to ensure that the housing stock supports a balanced community.
At the same time, local authorities should take care to ensure that housing programmes based on rehabilitation are accompanied by appropriate financial and fiscal mechanisms. This is to ensure, as far as possible, that the original residents can benefit from the general improvement of the area and are not forced to move because of the increased costs and rents consequent upon such rehabilitation. Equally, the provision of new residential areas should guarantee social mix in neighbourhoods to avoid ghettos.
2. There should be opportunities to purchase housing and security of tenancy.
Right to accommodation implies a right to become part of a local community - often impossible without long-term security in accommodation.
Local authorities should ensure that the opportunity to purchase housing at a reasonable cost is available and accordingly, should promote all possible arrangements for home ownership or tenancy. The right to accommodation should not be discriminatory in respect of certain categories of people: the elderly, disabled, the unemployed, single parent families, or immigrants.
Housing policy should be a local authority responsibility, which should have the capacity of direct intervention to achieve its social objectives and in addition, encourage the private sector to do so in equal measure. Where legislation permits tenants of public housing to purchase property, local authorities have a responsibility to replace accommodation units in the public sector. Equally important is the right to security for tenants.
3. Everyone is entitled to secure and pleasant housing and to privacy at home.
A home provides the personal space for an individual, where there should be a maximum guarantee of security, tranquillity and protection of personal property and privacy.
Legislation for local authorities should enable as many individuals and families as possible to be adequately housed and to enjoy a reasonable standard of living. This should be achieved through the establishment and monitoring of safety standards in building, by programmes aimed at replacing or restoring inadequate housing. Alongside this comes the introduction in the residential environment of greater variety of facilities, including small productive activities and services and the improvement of the amount, quality and safety of open spaces and of facilities for younger and elderly people.
This also implies that housing should be provided with and surrounded by green areas, safe play spaces, allotments and gardens, as a natural complement. Local authorities should also strive for an overall quality of the built and residential environment by promoting the availability of basic infrastructures, services and facilities.
4. All citizens are entitled to more sustainable housing and residential areas.
It is essential to acknowledge that all urban dwellers are concerned about more sustainable housing and urban environments. The physical form of towns, particularly the nature of housing in its wider neighbourhood setting, plays a key role in achieving a high quality urban environment. This is partly a matter of planning for a more compact city, so that the problems of suburban sprawl and the unsustainable consumption of rural and agricultural land are minimised. It also means making much fuller use of sustainable forms of design and construction so that there is better use of materials and energy sources.
Local authorities should pay particular attention in the protection of residential areas against pollution. This can be achieved through: the creation of environmental protection and buffer zones, parks, gardens and allotments; the diversion of heavy traffic where causing disturbance; and in the supply of a variety of accessible facilities. Public consultation and community involvement should be encouraged and citizens should be given the opportunity to express their ideas and influence decision-making in respect of the form of their surroundings and in the application of innovative sustainable planning criteria.
THEME: CULTURAL DEVELOPMENT
Towns also play a vital role in the provision of other facilities, in the promotion of cultural and educational activities that reflect a town's specific cultural tradition and the identity of its population.
1. The cultural improvement of towns contributes to economic and social development.
The universality of cultural democracy is embodied in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Cultural policy should be an important contributor to economic development and to the creation of a sense of community. The cultural richness of a multi-ethnic society represents an opportunity for the development of society as a whole. Culture is a fundamental element in education at all levels. It can be a powerful means for achieving public participation with the social regeneration of disadvantaged sectors of the population. A strategy for culture should be a key element within a comprehensive urban programme; part of an overall policy for the improvement of the quality of life in towns, for the enhancement of urban identity.
Local authorities should recognise that the transfer of cultural experience of their towns to others plays an important role in creating mutual comprehension and respect. Cultural development is not simply the responsibility of local authorities. They should seek to enlist, by a variety of means, greater involvement of the business world in patronage of the arts and cultural recreation.
2. Cultural pluralism presupposes experiment and encouragement of innovation.
Part of the richness of cultural activity derives from its spontaneous, innovative and creative nature. Successful cultural development should recognise and target the particular needs and contribution of specific groups of the population, for example, young people and immigrant communities.
Local authorities should recognise the importance of cultural pluralism and diversity through appropriate grant aid for cultural activities and by providing adequate places for people to express themselves by means of minor arts such as street dancing, playing, performing as well as larger festivals.
3. The balanced promotion of cultural tourism can have a beneficial effect on the community.
Cultural tourism is a growth industry throughout Europe; historic towns, cultural and artistic events attract visitors in ever increasing numbers.
The benefits to towns are clear: increased prosperity; improved local employment prospects and extension of the range of amenities available to residents. Other beneficial spin-offs include support of the building industry, expansion of specialised crafts and an increase in the mutual knowledge and respect of different cultures and communities.
Local authorities should strive to develop and implement a tourist and cultural management plan that closely involves local residents, the private sector, representatives of the tourist industry and local authorities, so that benefits can be assured and negative effects avoided. Tourist development programmes should respect local traditions and the urban and natural environment.
THEME: EQUAL ACCESS TO EDUCATIONAL, SPORTING, RECREATIONAL AND TRAVEL FACILITIES
Education, sport, recreational activities and travel facilities should be accessible for all. In particular, sport has a fundamental role since it provides the means of interaction for individuals and communities, bringing them closer together. It can also help in giving people a sense of direction and avoid social alienation and exclusion. Everyone has the right to participate in educational, sporting and recreational activities, up to the level of ability and thus improving lives through a sense of social and physical well-being.
1. The provision of equal access to education must be a concern of public authorities.
Appropriate measures to guarantee equal access to education and educational facilities should be a mayor concern of local authorities. Special actions should be promoted to encourage the access to education by disadvantaged groups.
Educational policies should enable the strengthening of vocational and training initiatives to give a closer coincidence and match between the offer of employment and the skills of people.
2. All citizens have a right to take part in sporting and recreational activities.
In line with the provisions of the Sport for All Charter, local authorities, either directly, or by enabling others to do so, have a responsibility to improve access to sport and recreational facilities for everyone, irrespective of social and economic background, age, or ethnic group.
This can be done by devising special policies, sports development and coaching programmes, including for those with special needs. This would provide a network of basic sports and recreational facilities covering the whole of the urban area within easy reach of homes and opportunities to play traditional, as well as modern sports.
Local authorities should ensure when planning new development in existing urban areas, that there is the provision of open spaces, wooded areas, playgrounds, stretches of water and cycle paths. This should foster and stimulate recreational activities and provide accessibility for all groups, especially children, young and elderly people. Urban sports and recreational facilities should blend with surrounding buildings and townscape, showing and contributing to a sense of place but at the same time sensitively located, so as not to cause problems to noise-sensitive users such as hospitals or schools. Design and materials should enable everyone to participate safely and in a healthy manner.
3. Travel facilities and public transport should be accessible for everyone.
Freedom to travel is a basic individual right, yet for some categories of people, travel and movement are a problem. Travel facilities should be carefully designed and time-tables should be elaborated in such a way to allow the maximun use by all citizens.
This right should extend to those groups who are at a disadvantage because of their age, physical or mental ability, knowledge of the language and local customs. The use of different resources and facilities should be encouraged, via more extensive use of universal pictograms; translations; appropriate signposting of paths for pedestrians and cyclists; intensive practical language and information training for ethnic minorities; the use of interactive user-friendly information systems and by minimising physical barriers.
THEME: TOWN PLANNING AND URBAN DESIGN
The form of urban areas, whether historic or new, largely reflects their climate and natural topography, together with national culture and the needs of the citizens. These factors are fundamental in all decisions regarding the development of towns. Planning policies should ensure that European towns respond to change with high quality developments, in a creative and sensitive manner, which is appropriate to their regional location, social, economic and physical characteristics, historic and cultural heritage.
Urban design is concerned with making places for people. Towns are usually judged not only by their vitality and the quality of their services, but also by the quality of their environment, historic heritage, quality of new development, accessibility, sense of security and public maintenance. How these relate to each other and how they look and perform are crucial in judging success.
1. Urban planning should ensure that development responds to the natural, cultural and physical context.
Europe’s towns owe much to nature of their climate and topography. The climate can range widely between that of the Mediterranean and the colder Northern regions. This accounts for a wide diversity of environments and the resulting approaches to planning and design. Similarly local topography is a crucial factor. A river valley, hills, or coastal location, will each have a fundamental effect. In addition, the intrinsic qualities of national and regional character will be discernible in their structure, layout and appearance.
All these influences can be clearly seen in the existing historic heritage of buildings, spaces and infrastructure of European urban areas. With particular emphasis on sustainability, these factors should be taken into account in all new development and renewal.
The form of a town arises from its people, their culture and activities, its history and environment. Local authorities and their professional staff should therefore aim to create surroundings that harmonise the new with the old. New development in historic areas should require a careful balance between traditional and modern needs. Most important is a sensitive understanding of historic context and its contribution to urban character and appearance.
2. Local authorities should prepare planning and development policies for their urban areas within national and regional guidance.
Every city and town requires a system and policies for controlling development to meet the aspirations of its citizens, to protect its heritage, guide new proposals. The participation of citizens and businesses is essential in the preparation, implementation and continual updating of the urban policies.
These policies should contain all the policies discussed elsewhere in the new Charter, to ensure that the form of towns reflects, in a sustainable way, the ecological, economic and equity objectives of citizens. Sound governance and decisions from local authorities are also needed to implement the policies.
Development briefs and frameworks are useful tools in guiding new proposals, setting out the aspirations and constraints of a local authority’s plans and policies. Urban design and architectural competitions can play a key role in generating ideas and initiating urban regeneration.
3. The design of European Towns should give attention to the way they function, as well as how they look.
Urban design should be as concerned with the way the town functions, as well as how it looks. Good urban design is a key to sustainable development, with pleasant and efficient residential, commercial and industrial areas, a convenient and comfortable travel infrastructure and an attractive and safe physical environment.
New development should respect its historic context. Many successful schemes have a combination of modern design, conservation and restoration of existing buildings. This supports sustainability. No two places are identical and design should always utilise unique qualities as an asset. High quality design applies not only to buildings, but also to all the details of a town, from its buildings and roads to its open spaces and street furniture.
A beautiful built environment, with imaginative new architecture and engineering integrated with the historic heritage, properly serving a town’s functions, will enhance the lives of everyone involved in that town. Aesthetic considerations are vital components to a quality of life of all citizens. Fine architecture need not be expensive and it contributes greatly to the overall success of cities. Imagination and creativity can provide quality and beauty at a reasonable cost.
Security is a vital issue to people in towns today and the application of the technique of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design is much favoured by all concerned with public safety. Its principles help to provide the right conditions for a flourishing economic and social life in towns. Urban design and planning should improve natural surveillance and increase the presence of people in the public realm. This seems to be the best way to improve communal safety and retain the civilised dignity and quality of towns. The ability to walk without fear, to see and be seen and to know you have been seen, is essential.
4. Town centres should be safeguarded as important symbols of European culture and heritage.
A town centre’s appearance and atmosphere can give a clear environmental clue to the quality of the rest of a town. An attractive, busy and friendly centre, appeals to visitors and customers who perceive that the place is worth visiting. Of particular importance is the presence of residents, especially those living above shops, who can provide surveillance of the street below and a sense of propriety and local vitality.
Town centres are often the focus of major new development and many European centres are changing from mainly shopping and office areas, to places for leisure and tourism. It is essential that land use diversity is maintained by encouraging mixed-use development and ensuring residential accommodation is retained.
Solutions to urban pressure in historic centres should require a careful balance between their traditional emphasis on dense and diverse developments and new large-scale uses demanding space and accessibility at an accelerated pace of development and change.
5. Particular attention should be given to those places and spaces between buildings to which everyone has access - the ‘Public Realm’ and to its security.
The ‘public realm’ consists of open spaces, footways, minor streets, tree-lined boulevards, parks, playgrounds, riverbanks, railway concourses, traffic-free areas and public gardens, which are intrinsic to the character and appearance of towns
In large European towns and cities, public space is changing due to increasing privatisation of spaces that were once in the public realm; surveillance and control of access; and increasing design intervention that break connections with local history and geography. This should be overcome by retaining and creating pedestrian networks connecting the main areas of public interest. These should be attractive to use by being: continuous, landscaped, paved, well lit, signposted and maintained. Well-designed, maintained and actively used open spaces increase the attractiveness of a town and contribute to its economic prosperity and social life.
The importance of parks, with their natural features and flora and fauna, cannot be too highly stressed. They should however be well designed in terms of character, quality, safety, activities and public art, also well lit, maintained and supervised to create a secure and attractive environment.
THEME: URBAN HERITAGE AND MANAGEMENT
Urban heritage is an important and irreplaceable part of the fabric of towns, crucial for the identity of a city and its inhabitants. It hands down to future generations cultural artefacts providing a consciousness of Europe's common history and future. It consists of monuments, groups of buildings, structures, places, spaces and sites, as indicated in Article 1 of the European Convention of the Architectural Heritage.
Local authorities, in concert with other heritage bodies, are in the best position to manage and enhance this urban heritage. Their powers regarding new development place local authorities in the key position to ensure that regeneration is beneficial and of a high quality.
1. The built heritage of a town is usually one of its greatest physical assets and needs to be protected and enhanced.
The architectural heritage of buildings and spaces, their historic and cultural associations, are what make a city distinctive. Older buildings, whether a historic landmark or not, often have a great variety of options for reuse. An historic building would be best used for its designed purpose but, if impossible, a conversion can give the building a new lease of life. Public authorities should understand that conservation of the built heritage can go hand in hand with successful urban economic regeneration. There are numerous successful examples of highly imaginative reuse of the most unprepossessing old buildings. Historic places and sites having a distinctive character and a sense of place can provide a catalyst to regeneration. One of the often forgotten benefits of conservation is that it is a highly sustainable form of development, because it enables savings to be made of energy, raw materials and infrastructure.
An important feature of many European towns is their skyline. Where new high buildings are proposed, it is vital to locate them where they enhance such skylines do not harm historic views or the immediate surroundings and do not create unpleasant microclimates or overshadowing.
2. Managing the historic environment requires the application of a carefully prepared legal framework and guidance.
Whilst responsibility for conservation is in the hands of public authorities, individual buildings are usually in private ownership. A legal framework is therefore essential to regulate development in order to ensure protection of the built heritage. Legislation should also provide for the preparation of a comprehensive, publicly accessible, register of the urban heritage. Public authorities should adopt appropriate monitoring procedures, as well as management and guidance, to protect individual or groups of buildings, enable sympathetic alterations and extensions. They should also prevent unnecessary demolition. Sensitive change to the historic fabric and its environment should be allowed for in legislation, without harming structures and features of special architectural, historic or cultural significance. This should not, however, be used in a negative controlling way, but to encourage new contemporary uses and design. Conservation does not mean preservation.
The creation of protected conservation areas should be provided for and this should have regard for the public realm, street paving, lighting, landscapes, open space and flora and fauna. Local authorities should control and guide conservation through published guidance notes, with lists of the availability of specialists and skilled artisans and where to source traditional materials.
3. The local community should be fully involved in historic heritage.
Respect for the historic environment can only be achieved through increased public awareness of the intrinsic value of the built heritage, settings, historic traditions and uses. Therefore public information, education and training are essential.
Knowledge about the historic environment should be communicated through working forums and other media. It should be understood and valued by all of those working in the urban environment, not just specialised professionals. School curricula should include study of urban, as well as social history. Conservation and preservation societies also have a vital role to play during the consultation processes of development.
Training in specialised and diminishing crafts and techniques is essential. It can provide a valuable source of both skilled and unskilled jobs and apprenticeships. Those administrating the regulatory system, others engaged with heritage projects also need training.
4. Financial mechanisms and partnerships are vital components to successful action and should be widely available.
Conservation of the urban heritage is a heavy financial commitment, both in the physical structures themselves and in providing adequate administrative services to implement national, regional and local conservation policies. Often beyond the resources of public authorities, funding requires partnership with the private sector and incentives to private individuals. These can include tax and fiscal incentives to encourage restoration rather than demolition; sale of historic property at a reduced price on condition that full repair and conservation is carried out; long-term loans; creation of restoration trusts; development of revolving funds and increased use of patronage and sponsorship. Grant aid for conservation projects can have a regulatory effect when covering a wider area.
THEME: TRANSPORT AND MOBILITY
The growth of vehicle use, predominantly the car, lorries and vans, is placing a heavy strain on urban highway systems and is also destructive to the urban fabric and the environmental amenity of citizens. The use of private vehicles should therefore be controlled and managed, the use of public and mass transport encouraged.
A more sustainable land use planning strategy should be adopted, favouring accessibility, the compact high-density town with mixed uses, integrating housing, employment and other functions with innovative movement systems.
1. It is essential that the volume of travel, particularly by private car, is reduced and new approaches to urban travel adopted.
Over the last century, the private vehicle has dominated transport policies to the detriment of the public transport system and the loss of urban fabric and land. Vehicles threaten towns through noise, discomfort, psychological and physical insecurity, loss of amenity and social space and atmospheric pollution. What is less understood is the demand that road transport makes upon urban space and its impact on the coherence and form of urban areas, with sprawling, unsustainable development and ever-greater problems for those without access to a car. The past decade has seen a continuing steep rise in vehicle ownership and usage and there are bound to be pressures in central and eastern European cities to “catch up”.
Most towns and cities have found the political and technical risks of restraint of the car too daunting. Nevertheless, there are good examples across Europe of excellent public transport and its integration with development so that new activities are encouraged in the places with best access by train, tram and bus. Another approach could be the greater use of congestion charging. The car does however, have many immediate attractions for people because its convenience and flexibility allows them to travel more easily.
Significant changes require different behavioural patterns. Increasing concern for the environment is not always matched by changes to ingrained travel habits, especially in car usage. The use of public transport, walking and cycling, as the natural, sustainable and healthy way to travel, should be the norm. Local authorities have a clear responsibility to support measures and develop consciousness-raising campaigns, in partnership with other bodies.
2. Information technology and electronic communications should be utilised to reduce the need to travel.
Some of the early expectations that information technology would enable development to locate in much more flexible ways have not been born out. If anything the effect has been to concentrate development in the centres of major cities, which are increasingly the only places able to offer the critical mass of expertise demand by the headquarters of global industries.
Alongside the undoubted benefits of the information revolution, in terms of better access to services and learning, there are worries that it may exacerbate the gap between the global cities and the rest, the gap between those who do and do not have access to its benefits. Local authorities have a responsibility to ensure that these benefits are available to all, are used to improve the quality of public services, to increase the engagement of citizens in the affairs of their town.
3. Ineffective land use controls and separation of functions cause many accessibility problems. Land uses need to be integrated with transport systems.
Some planning practices have led to the separation of essential functions. They have resulted in towns becoming congested, in sprawling suburban areas where efficient economically-viable public transport is virtually impossible. In its most tangible and visible form, this imposes unavoidable travel for citizens living in one place, working in another, seeking essential services and goods in yet another, transporting their children to and from schools elsewhere. Integrated land use and transport policies should be applied in urban areas, especially in those endangered by congestion. Local authorities should implement plans aiming at reducing the use of private vehicles and enhancing the quality of public transport and of the environment.
This includes the creation of efficient transport interchanges between rail, bus, tram and car parks. In the suburban areas the highest density development should be close to public transport stops, stations and interchanges. In larger cities this entails places of employment being adjacent to transport nodes and these integrated with pedestrian networks, so that passengers are persuaded to walk to their final destinations, rather than use another vehicle mode.
4. Mobility should be organised in a way that maintains a liveable town and permits co-existence of different forms of travel.
It is impossible to eliminate travel, but it should be feasible to reorganise the different forms of travel with the overall aim of creating a town in which it is a pleasure to live, rather than one which follows specific sectoral objectives. It means giving priority to public transport, bicycles and pedestrians, for the individual transport of people and goods. It means restrictions on access by heavy traffic, whether delivering goods or not. It means the examination of innovative measures to control street use, for example, the alternating use of both time and space; congestion charging; part-time pedestrian use; alternating hours, day, periods of the week, or of the year. It means the creation of cycle paths; carefully planned pedestrian zones and networks; out-of-town parking, accompanied by frequent low-cost, safe and reliable public transport to reach central urban areas.
5. Reclaiming the streets for pedestrians.
One very positive way to improve a town is to create attractive and safe pedestrian routes in the form of networks. Many towns have tourist walks or trails that cover the main historic and scenic features, but few have developed these into networks that embrace other activities and places.
The loss of the street as a social living space contributes to the decline of a town and an increase in insecurity. Streets become safer and more enjoyable by measures such as broader pavements; pedestrian precincts; control of traffic flows; the use of one-way streets and a mixture of land uses and activities at street level. These should be contained within a network of connected pedestrian routes. Such networks should join the main places of generation and attraction of people, especially public transport nodes and include “safe routes to school”. They should be inherently safe and of a high quality in design, materials, landscape and lighting.