Around 80 experts and practitioners from across Europe attended the “Connecting Urban and Rural” Conference in Aberdeen on 28 June 2012.
The event highlighted the work of 13 project partners involved in the 3 year, Sustainable Urban Fringes (SURF) Project, who have carried out research and practical projects demonstrating how these areas can improve our cities.
New recreational and access routes, improved green spaces, increased community involvement and new employment opportunities are some of the benefits realised through the range of project approaches.
Recognising how this can enhance the quality of life in city regions, this work has fed into a project research programme which has revealed new policy recommendations and governance insights.
Speakers and delegates at the conference had the opportunity to comment on the final drafts of the project report and a Toolkit to assist the management of urban fringes areas. Both of these documents are due to be published in the coming months.
In a film message screened at the conference, Deputy First Minister, of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon recognised the contribution the urban fringe can make to sustainable growth and welcomed the success of the approach taken in Aberdeen. Highlighting the opportunity for cities across Scotland and beyond to learn from and replicate these successes in their own urban fringes and welcoming new initiatives which compliment the work of the Scottish Cities Alliance in delivering sustainable economic growth.
During the conference, delegates were able to learn more about the urban fringe from a range of expert speakers including:
- Sabrina Lucatelli - Policy development Directorate, Urban Development and Territorial Cohesion Unit, European Commission, DG REGIO.
- Reinhard Henke - Senior Policy Advisor and Technical Representative of his region in both the METREX and PURPLE networks.
- Rachel Smith - Analyst, Centre for Cities
- Gordon McIntosh - Director of Enterprise, Planning and Infrastructure, Aberdeen City Council
- Dr Alister Scott - RELU Programme & Professor of Spatial Planning and Governance, Birmingham City University
- Kevin Thomas - CUDEM, Leeds Metropolitan University
- Bauke de Vries, Theo de Bruijn, Huibert Haccou - Saxion University of Applied Sciences
- Rolf Oldejans - Policy Advisor, City of Enschede
- Jon Jordan - UK contact of the Interreg IVB North Sea Region programme
Delegates had the opportunity to see first hand how the project has benefited Aberdeen during a study tour in the River Don corridor, where they met local experts and community representatives to hear about the positive impact of the project and learn more about a new planning framework for the area. The framework aims to guide and inform officers in assessing the access, recreational, landscape, cultural and historical, environmental, wildlife and community engagement implications of any development proposal along the corridor.
The Sustainable Urban Fringes (SURF) Project is part of the Interreg IVB North Sea Region Programme and is partly funded by the European Regional Development Fund. Find out more on the project website www.sustainablefringes.eu