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Phil Turner Pam Moore The Asset Of The Project ECOVAST
The ASSET project of ECOVAST Action to Strengthen Small European Towns Phil Turner About the project Pam Moore Research
Winchester South East England, UK [email_address] 4 th International Symposium on Small Towns, Grieskirchen, Upper Austria 24 April 2009 Phil Turner Vice President of ECOVAST www.ecovast.org Philip A Turner, Dipl. Arch., Dip.TP., RIBA (retired), MRTPI
ECOVAST the ASSET project (Action to Strengthen Small European Towns)
ECOVAST This work on ASSET is important to our members in many countries ECOVAST has active interest in Heritage of buildings Cultural heritage Survival of towns and villages -’sustainability’ Involvement of citizens in integrated rural development The landscape setting of villages and small towns
ASSET ASSET – Action to Strengthen Small European Towns is a project instigated by ECOVAST as a result of an international conference held in Retz, Austria in 2005 This conference identified a European policy gap – attention has been given to larger settlements and to rural areas, but small towns have “fallen through the net”
Small towns and the villages in their surrounding areas. How small / large? In the UK - approximately 2,500 - 30,000 population - but research for ASSET reveals a wider range in some countries In the work of ECOVAST and its influence on policy at European Union level and through the Council of Europe, this project has generated thought about the key role of towns related to the surrounding landscape and villages The key role of towns related to the surrounding landscape and villages - ‘hinterland’ The future importance of ‘Localness’ - food, energy and services, especially health, housing, retail, education and transport
<ul><li>Every place in the world is now facing change in the economics and traditions of fuel and food, due mainly to: </li></ul><ul><li>Global warming </li></ul><ul><li>possibilities of growing crops in places further towards the north and south poles </li></ul><ul><li>- land subject to flood and lost to sea level rise </li></ul><ul><li>Global trade and business - current economic decline </li></ul><ul><li>- dominated by large investors, producers, merchants and retailers </li></ul>Decline of fossil fuel resources - oil and gas Increase in costs of transport and farming that use oil Food shortages, price increases and civil unrest due to climate change and land diverted from food production to producing non-fossil fuels
There is a growing awareness that small towns have advantages and opportunities Transition Towns UK, Australia, New Zealand and USA - the Transition Model for responding to the twin challenges of Peak Oil and Climate Change - is a recent initiative by the people of towns and villages to consider how to respond to global influences http://www.transitiontowns.org/ Slow Food, Slow Cities - originating in Italy - ’Cittaslow’ , is Italian for "slow city" or "slow town” an international network of towns, working towards a set of goals that aim to improve quality of life… http://www.cittaslow.org.uk/
Until now planning policies in many EU member states and under the European Spatial Development Perspective , have focused on cities, conurbations and larger urban networks Smaller towns and villages have been unsure about their ability to survive - to be sustained
The town or village has faced decline of population and services Rural residents, especially young people, have been attracted to larger towns and cities Even former ‘market towns’ that served a large hinterland have been stifled There is a need to connect smaller towns and the more populated cities - policy makers should be looking out from the metropolitan areas, not just looking in from their immediate boundaries
ASSET Partners Small towns or associations of towns are welcome to become a member of ECOVAST or to become a partner of the ASSET Organising Group - the present members are: ECOVAST APURE (l'association pour les Universités Rurales Européennes) SEEDA ( UK South East of England Regional Development Agency) Yorkshire Forward ( UK Regional Development Agency, England) The Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) England UK MONTE, ACE - Desenvolvimento Alentejo Central, Portugal
<ul><li>Aims of the ASSET project </li></ul><ul><li>To promote co-operation, and exchange of good practice, between governmental and other agencies throughout Europe who offer support to small towns </li></ul><ul><li>b. To promote contact and exchange of good practice between individual small towns throughout Europe </li></ul><ul><li>To speak on behalf of small towns to influence the European Commission, Council of Europe, Committee of the Regions of the European Union and governments and The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe </li></ul><ul><li>To facilitate, support and encourage the delivery of research to enable evidence-based policy approaches to strengthening the well-being of small towns </li></ul><ul><li>e. To develop policy formulation at European levels focused on small towns and their rural hinterlands </li></ul>
Recent initiatives ECOVAST (Croatia) and ASSET have joined (as non partners) an INTERREG IVB Mediterranean area, with Malta as lead partner. It is taking the title of TOWNES and also some of the partners we had gathered from meetings in London, Brussels and Spain. There are 16 partners in all, from Italy, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and Greece. Efforts to join other EU funded projects continue, with prospects in the areas of North East Europe and Central Europe. At Potsdam recently we have discussed the Declaration of Wittstock (Chamber of Architects and ECOVAST) and the Brandenburg State spatial planning policy that envisages ‘small towns as the metropoles of the cultural landscape’.
Events involving ASSET Europa Nostra will hold its 2009 Congress, on a Small Towns theme, in Taormina on Sicily, Italy , from 3-7 June 2009 . It will be organised in cooperation with Italia Nostra and the Distretto Culturale Taormina Etna. Pam and I are giving a paper Linked to ECOVAST International General Assembly Thursday 8 October 2009 Macedonia FY . INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE “ LANDSCAPE AND SMALL HISTORIC TOWNS: TWO KEY THEMES ” October or November 2009 - An international 'round table' on small historic towns linked to ECOVAST Croatia Annual Conference
The ASSET projects will offer the sharing of good practice examples From a previous INTERREG project (SUSSET) Scotland UK Sweden Poland Greece There is a toolkit that can be offered to speakers of other languages http://www.britnett-carver.co.uk/susset/
There are examples from the UK, from Croatia and from Poland of community-led plans that can identify the visions and needs of local residents, visitors and workers and that can influence rural development in terms of the management of land and economic enterprises. United Kingdom England There are examples from the UK, from Croatia and from Poland of community-led plans that can identify the visions and needs of local residents, visitors and workers and that can influence rural development in terms of the management of land and economic enterprises. United Kingdom England
PLEASE JOIN US IN THE INITIATIVES ASSET project welcomes new members of the Organising Group Each partner gives 2,000 euro each year for three years Towns and associations of towns can also join ECOVAST!
ASSET RESEARCH Pam Moore, B.A. (Hons) Secretary General of ECOVAST [email_address]
INTRODUCTION For those who have not been involved in the ASSET Project previously, information gathering was an important part of the start up phase of ASSET. It took three forms: - Databases of appropriate contacts - Country proformas compiled using internet sources, such as EU sites - Questionnaires
DATABASES & PROFORMAS Although some work has been done on these, it soon became apparent that they were most useful if data was already available on each country, so the questionnaire was given priority and was devised and sent to contacts in as many European countries as possible – about thirty in all
THE QUESTIONNAIRE To date, responses have been secured from 24 and analysis has commenced on the findings. We have managed a good coverage of Europe – Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden have all responded – in varying degrees of detail. The questionnaire has been available in English, French, Italian and Croatian
QUESTIONNAIRE CONTENT To briefly summarise the information sought through the questionnaire : Governmental structure of country Definition of a “small town” (population) Whether this includes its hinterland Specific issues of concern to small towns What support is received and from whom
QUESTIONNAIRE CONTENT CONTINUED <ul><li>Whether larger towns get preferential treatment </li></ul>Degree of interaction between small town and hinterland and what forms this takes… Examples of “good practice” Any research which has been done Existing case studies known Websites of relevance
ANALYSIS There is still much to be done on the analysis of what is a wealth of information, but it has become apparent that the picture is a very complex one. Almost every aspect of the data creates questions as well as answering them and to extract the maximum from what has been learned, follow up work is needed. For example, even the definition of a small town is problematic. Whether population is used as the deciding factor, or facilities, or the typology method, the variation across Europe is substantial.
THE POPULATION DEFINITION <ul><li>For example, if you adopt the population level as your criteria, in Austria, a small town can have as many as 50,000 people, whereas in Malta the maximum would be about 3,000 and in Portugal no more than 8,000. </li></ul>Minimum populations vary between 200 in Malta, 500 in Sweden and 2,500 in Austria… it also depends on whether your figure is seen to include the hinterland around. This can, of course, seriously distort the picture – e.g. in Austria, the town of St Veit, has a population is given as 14,000 but the town only has 7,000 and the historic centre, some 1,500
DEFINITION I have come to the conclusion that the best advice on the subject was that which I heard at a conference in Jyv ä skl ä , Finland in 2006 – “ If you think you are a small town, you probably are” Similarly complex and variable were the results of analysis on factors such as the challenges faced, the degree of interaction with the hinterland and the amount of support received from government and other sources
PHASE TWO Therefore, the next steps in my research will be: - Obtaining further responses, which should prove possible – I continue to seek contacts - More in-depth analysis of the information - Where appropriate, consulting existing respondents again to seek clarification and further information - Using the knowledge gained to develop the databases for the ASSET Project - A further questionnaire specifically to seek information on the perceived effects of the economic downturn on the small towns of Europe
NEW QUESTIONNAIRE I have devised a follow up questionnaire which I have started to circulate. I would like to acknowledge the helpful comments on the draft which I have had from Phil Turner, and from Crispin Moor of the Commission for Rural Communities. To date, I have sent it to contacts in 18 countries, and three responses have already been received. I can provide copies of the document electronically. The “new” questionnaire has not necessarily been sent to the same contacts – in some instances more suitable respondents have been identified
SECOND QUESTIONNAIRE CONTENT To give an idea of the type and scope of questions: I have started with a fundamental one - Is there evidence that the economic downturn is causing changes that threaten small towns in your country? Then respondents have the opportunity, partly through multiple choice and partly through comment boxes, to elaborate on a variety of topics…
QUESTIONS CONTINUED… Questions relating to issues such as : <ul><li>Demographic changes </li></ul><ul><li>- Loss of facilities, of employment </li></ul><ul><li>- Competition from out of town services </li></ul><ul><li>- Threats to heritage </li></ul><ul><li>- Housing </li></ul>In each instance, more detail is sought…
QUESTIONS CONTINUED… Next I have asked about: Support for small towns during the recession – and the adequacy (or otherwise) of this… Interaction with hinterland – is there more or less? Relating to the landscape – are there threats from out of town development? Other challenges from, for example, industrial development (e.g. mining), changes in agricultural practices , climate change (e.g. drought or flooding)
QUESTIONS CONTINUED… The questionnaire concludes with a section seeking information on other sources such as research studies, reports published or forthcoming etc, and whether any awards schemes exist for “good practice”. I aim to translate the text into French which will enable me to widen the list of countries being consulted, as well as seeking further contacts for the English version.
CONCLUSION If you have any questions about the ASSET research, or you can offer a contact to complete a questionnaire, please speak with me here, or contact me at e mail address : [email_address]