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Nadrozde Neighbourhood rehabilitation programme

Wrocław
Poland

 

This case study shows the introduction of participatory practices into the rehabilitation programs of a deprived neighbourhood in the context of the governance reorganization of post-communist Poland. Since the 1990s, the democratic local government reform grants more power to local administrations, although a limited management of funds often jeopardizes their capacity for intervention. In recent years, European Structural Funds and policy guidelines have become a substantial endorsement of urban regeneration and development.

In 2009, the Municipality of Wrocław drafted an Integrated Urban Development Programme in different phases, and selected Nadordze area as its pilot project. The pilot project has been developed within the network URBAMECO, which deals with the economic redevelopment of deprived urban areas within the European programme URBACT II (EU Cohesion Policy 2007-2013). This International Programme promotes the exchange of practices and supports the development of sustainable, integrated urban policies through the definition of a Local Action Plan, which requires participatory planning approaches.

Wrocław is the fourth most populated city in the country, the capital of the greater region of Lower Silesia and seat of the Province. It is a city with a rich European heritage, being at different historical moments part of Poland, Bohemia, Austria, Prussia, and Germany. The object of the policy is the Nadordze neighbourhood, an area of 16 km2 with a population of over 130,000 inhabitants, including the presence of a relatively integrated Roma community, the largest in Wrocław. The unemployment rate is very high in the area, and the average income level of the local population very low, which puts the inhabitants at risk of socio-economic exclusion. The implementation of the urban revitalization has been supported by municipal, regional and, in the case of Nadordze, European funding. Through the URBACT programme, the municipality is committed to draft a Local Action Plan resulting from a participatory process.

The Local Action Plan is an integrated policy that will focus on a trade development strategy for the arts and crafts, services, and a tourist route accompanied by the renovation of tenement houses together with socially inclusive policies. On the city level, there are other programmes that also convey efforts towards the same goal of Nadordze renewal: the ‘100-Tenement-Houses’ is a programme of the city of Wrocław to support the restoration of listed buildings in the city. Another focus of local activities is the EURO 2012 football championship hosted by the city of Wrocklaw, which is being used as a leverage for urban renewal. On the neighbourhood level, the local authorities apply a strategy called ‘Entrepreneurship as an Alternative to Exclusion’, transforming several degraded streets in the area of the former Oder Suburb into attractive tourist and economic centres. Throughout the revitalization planning process, economic revitalization has been accompanied by several projects whose purpose was to highlight and value local resources and skills existing in the neighbourhood, such as those of arts and crafts.

The main agents managing the policy are municipal authorities, collaborating with the Managing Authority for the European Regional Development Fund, the European Investment Bank, Foundation Dom Pokoju, and the Klub Pod Kolumnami (a cultural center in Nadordze that has been active since the 1960s). Participatory activities have been coordinated by the municipality and by some NGOs, as Dom Pokoju Foundation, particularly active in the area through different initiatives with Roma children in the local school, in mapping out existing arts and crafts with teenagers through interactive multimedia, etc. The foundation represents a way to reach out to the local population potentially constituting the Local Support Group (LSG) within the URBACT EU programme, which had about 20-25 members meeting regularly in the neighbourhood municipal centre over the timespan of the programme. Prior to the creation of the LSG, the municipality launched three phases of citizen’s consultation from May 2008 to January 2009, leading to the creation of three thematic subgroups concerned with social issues, culture, and economy. During the development of the Local Action Plan, the LSG was part of a network that allowed exchanges of practices and experiences with other LSGs in Poland and in Europe among the cities participating in the URBACT programme.

The main achievement of the process is the creation of a Local Support Group. The LSG operates at a neighbourhood level by assuring the steady presence of multi-stakeholders participating in the decision-making process of the Nadordze district regeneration; at the city level as a pilot for other regeneration plans in the city; and at the international level, since the LSG engaged in organizing exchanges with other jurisdictions in Europe in become acquainted with different methodologies of dealing with public participation in regards to urban regeneration. Among the hindrances to the policy are:

  • the lack of accessible information about the quality of participative processes and the opinions of the local population
  • the risks of gentrification and dislocation of the disadvantaged population deriving from the regeneration process or unequal access to the new services and facilities in the area, which are not clearly prevented.

The actual challenge is how to orchestrate and maintain the work of multi-stakeholders initiated through the EU Local Support Group and to capitalize on the opportunities offered by economic redevelopment, while ensuring still affordable and a high quality standard of living to the actual inhabitants who are willing to reside in Nadrodze.