SURF focuses on the urban fringe (social /economic/environmental) and developing instruments in which to manage a sustainable urban frindge (UF). In addition, the project aims to put the UF higher on the political agenda within the partner regions, at national and regional governments and at EU level. In most cases the UFs act as the hinterland of the urban centres, are of complex shape with a scattered landscape, are administratively fragmented & don't have a distinct identity. Overall UFs are the areas under pressure facing unsustainable growth & expansion.
The cities and urban fringes can not be considered in isolation & therefore there is a need of greater integration between various policies and programmes at local, regional & national level to make the urban fringes challenging and more attractive. The partnership brings together various partners across the NSR and city region which would not have been possible without the support from the programme.
01/09/2009 - 28/02/2013
4 - Promoting Sustainable and Competitive Communities
Area of Intervention
4.2 Promoting sustainable growth solutions for expanding areas
School of the Built Environment Leeds Metropolitan University
City of Bradford
Norfolk County Council
City of Enschede
City of Almelo
City of Hengelo
Province of East Flanders
Provice of West Flanders
Province of Antwerp
City of Hamburg
Municipality of Härryda
Background and Aim
Aim The aim of the project is to review UF policies & develop a common approach & a set of policy guidelines to influence regional, national and EU policies in tackling issues of governance, spatial planning and exploring potential for economic growth in UFs & to contribute in a balanced way to city region competitiveness. The cities and urban fringes can not be considered in isolation & therefore there is a need for greater integration between various policies and programmes at the local, regional & national level to make the urban fringes more attractive. Further aims are:
Provide a common platform for EU experts and institutions to exchange their experiences, strategies, policies in dealing UFs & provide recommendations to test some of the innovative approaches to harness the potential of UFs & influence policy;
Analyse the challenges faced by the Urban Fringes and the contribution it makes towards the city region development;
Create a web based long term sustainable network of experts, practitioners, businesses, institutions, community development organizations and linking it into what is existing;
Add value to the UFs & increase its importance to promote the environmental quality and highlight its benefits it brings to the communities;
Improve community skills in UFs & empower them to develop rural services enabling them to take part in planning & decisions making;
Background The Urban Fringes UFs are the areas in between rural & urban areas with multifunctional spaces & complex structures. UF areas often suffer declining biodiversity, deteriorating water quality, low green space value, they are split administratively, with fragmented governance structures and they often have poor accessibility & wide social inequalities. The improvement of UFs greenspaces will provide a sense of place & ownership to the communities and will add value to UF environmental quality & will help in maintaining biodiversity. City regions are of increasing interest to EU policy makers as a source of increased EU competitiveness as competitive spaces in the global economy.
A set of integrated policy guidelines and approaches towards UF planning, management and development;
Hands on insights in & recommendations on the governance of UF as key component of city regions. Leave a legacy of rigorous and accessible learning on the UF;
Transnational exchange of knowledge & experience creating an open dialogue & disseminating information on innovative ideas & achievements.
April - September 2011
The project has now moved on from research and implementation to capturing project results and findings. The projects mid-term conference held in Bradford on 29 June-1 July 2011 seemed to provided a good opportunity for project partners to conclude on the research phase and move forward into the collation and promotion of project findings, results and outputs.
The lead beneficiary has been working on the SURF policy paper. This will utilise the findings from the project and provie a strong start for the paper. Aberdeen City Council will be hosting a European policy training session with the UK Interreg representative on the 14th November 2011, a workshop that should greatly assist the SURF policy ambition. To ensure that the SURF policy paper compliments other similar policy approaches from other projects and organisations, SURF has requested that the PURPLE and Peri-Urban Parks project review the drafted paper before it is delivered to the North Sea Sustainable Development Group to ensure that they agree on the policy message.
On 14 July 2011, the Leeds Metropolitan University, Urban Fringe Study Groupwithin CUDEM, was invited to attend the meeting of DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) held to discuss the emerging 'rural growth policy' being developed by the new coalition government. The meeting was held in the Rose Bowl at Leeds Met and represented a rare foray outside London for the DEFRA team. The team was invited to explain the research on urban fringes and present on this topic, which included a summary of the SURF Interreg project in EU urban fringe areas and some of the evidence emerging from it. The presentation prompted a lengthy discussion by delegates and a lot of questions about, in particular, the potential impact of the 'localism' agenda for rural and urban fringe areas.
October 2010 - March 2011
The SURF winter conference was held in Flanders, Belgium in November 2010 where a representative from all the partners attended for this workshop based conference. The conference involved contribution by different stakeholders within the region and also allowed the opportunity for a project visit to the West Flanders project area, the Stad-Land-schap.
The project has developed a transnational exchange concept called the 'Implementation Lab', which was tried and tested at the project conference in West Flanders in November 2010. A host provides a problem statement (about their pilot project) for partners to analyse, discuss and provide recommendations. All SURF partners take part and the conclusions are provided in a report with recommendations for the partner in question. The project partner benefiting from the feedback will then report back to the group about how the implementation of their pilot was enhanced as a result of the input.
The projects first 'scoping' phase of theme work is now complete and project partners are currently working on the next 'comparing' phase of theme work where they will consider and compare how the urban fringe is being planned and managed and the policies, structures and strategies that exist in their regions.
April - September 2010
Saxion University in The Netherlands has signed a 'Knowledge Agreement' on urban fringes with the Dutch Ministry of the Housing, Environmental Planning and Environment. Saxion will harvest new knowledge from projects that the Ministry is facilitating in urban fringes throughout The Netherlands, and Saxion will make the knowledge from SURF available to those projects.
Similarly, Enschede have had a strong influence on Dutch national policy on urban fringes. A delegation from the landscape team of the Dutch Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment had the opportunity to learn more about urban fringes during an excursion to Enschede and Hengelo on 23 September 2010. The tour of urban fringe areas was organised to provide inspiration for a new national policy on urban fringes.
October 2009 - March 2010
The project has been busy with start up activities although general project activity is starting to be undertaken in each of the work packages. Project partners have been liaising together to organise future events, work package leaders have been communicating and exchanging knowledge/best practice and each partner has also been busy in his/her own country setting up stakeholder and local groups. In Work Package 3 key themes were identified that will be explored throughout the project and in Work Package 4 work took place with all partners on developing a SWOT analysis. The project has been using a web conferencing tool for communication between work package leaders.
Considerable work has been undertaken with the projects publicity and communication activities. A general communication plan, partner communication plans, a website, press packs and newsletters have all been produced. The project had its kick off meeting on the 3rd and 4th December 2009 in Aberdeen. At the event all of the partners discussed the future shaping of the project. Preparation has also gone into preparing the next event in Enschede - including the drafting of an agenda.