Sustainable Urban Fringes


SURF focused on the urban fringe (social /economic/environmental) and developing instruments in which to manage a sustainable urban frindge. In addition, the project aimed to put the Urban Fringes higher on the political agenda within the partner regions, at national and regional governments and at EU level.

In most cases the Urban Fringes act as the hinterland of the urban centres, are of complex shape with a scattered landscape, are administratively fragmented and do not have a distinct identity. Overall, Urban Fringes are the areas under pressure facing unsustainable growth and expansion.

The cities and urban fringes cannot be considered in isolation, and therefore there is a need of greater integration between various policies and programmes at local, regional and national level to make the urban fringes challenging and more attractive. The partnership brought together various partners across the North Sea Region 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
ERDF Grant
2,188,198.00 €
Total Eligible Budget
4,376,396.00 €
Lead Beneficiary
Aberdeen City Council, UK
Yasa Ratnayeke
Tel: +44 1224 8146 04
Project Homepage
Beneficiaries per Country
United Kingdom
Aberdeen City Council
School of the Built Environment Leeds Metropolitan University
City of Bradford
Norfolk County Council
The Netherlands
City of Enschede
Saxion University
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

The aim of the project was to review Urban Fringes policies, develop a common approach and 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 Urban Fringes, and to contribute in a balanced way to city region competitiveness.

The cities and urban fringes could not be considered in isolation, and therefore there was a need for greater integration between various policies and programmes at the local, regional and national level to make the Urban Fringes more attractive.

Further aims were to:

  • Provide a common platform for EU experts and institutions to exchange their experiences, strategies, policies in dealing Urban Fringes and provide recommendations to test some of the innovative approaches to harness the potential of Urban Fringes and influence policy
  • Analyse the challenges faced by the Urban Fringes and the contribution it made 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 Urban Fringes and increase its importance to promote the environmental quality and highlight the benefits it brought to the communities
  • Improve community skills in Urban Fringes and empower them to develop rural services enabling them to take part in planning & decisions making;

The Urban Fringes are the areas in between rural and urban areas with multifunctional spaces and complex structures. Urban Fringes 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 and wide social inequalities.

The improvement of Urban Fringes greenspaces would provide a sense of place and ownership to the communities, add value to Urban Fringes environmental quality and 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 Urban Fringes planning, management and development
  • Hands on insights in and recommendations on the governance of Urban Fringes as key component of city regions. Leave a legacy of rigorous and accessible learning on the Urban Fringes
  • Transnational exchange of knowledge and experience creating an open dialogue and disseminating information on innovative ideas and achievements.

SURF at European Urban Forestry Conference

Post it exercise vegetable growers East Flanders

SWOT event Province of Antwerp

Study visit Province of Antwerp

Suburbia event panel and audience Hamburg

Opening of the Stroroute West Flanders

SURF Final Conference Aberdeen

Touring Walking Trails Harryda

SURF Winter Conference 2011 Harryda

Theme Group Visit to Aberdeen 2011

SURF Annual Conference Bradford 2011

Hamburg Implementation Lab

Hamburg Implementation Lab Site Visit

SURF Theme Workshop, Flanders 2010

Study visit during Implementation lab, Flanders 2010

Greenspace theme group workshop, Flanders 2010

Hengelo urban fringe bike tour - June 2010

Partner Discussions on SURF themes

Hans van Agteren, Alderman for Enschede signs Ceremonial Partnership Document June 2010

SURF Annual Conference Enschede - June 2010

Kick off meeting Aberdeen - December 2009

Event Calendar
Events Archive