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Urban research
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Spatial planning and design

In urban settings, land-use policy has to accommodate a range of (often conflicting) functions and interests to achieve true sustainable development. EU-funded research is helping to improve urban quality of life.

Policy-makers face several challenges in generating sustainable built environments. Implementing integrated planning policies for land use and transport – to limit the harmful effects of overcrowding and optimise infrastructure use (see LUTR) – is just one of them.

Other challenges include…

  • limiting urban sprawl by promoting mixed-use settlements, regenerating inner city areas and discouraging private car use
  • redeveloping inner city derelict industrial and brownfield sites – a huge problem across Europe (see NORISC)
  • improving the number and quality of green and recreational areas to improve urban life (see GREENSPACE)
  • regenerating neighbourhoods and distressed areas where environmental and social problems, requiring specific approaches, are prevalent

Research has developed the processes, tools and technologies supporting sustainable redevelopment in all of these areas.

NORISC created software to help regulators, consultants and developers reclaim contaminated ‘brownfield’ sites, including the biological, chemical, geophysical and hydrological aspects of remediation. It reduced the time it takes to perform risk assessments by up to 80% and the cost of redevelopment by half (see

Parks and green open spaces improve urban quality of life and sustainability. GREENSPACE studied how urbanites both perceive and use green zones – for aesthetics, recreations, as places to meet, etc. It created a toolkit to help urban planners establish the best ‘green space’ mix in different situations (see

The LUTR cluster of projects is finding new ways to help cities and large towns optimise their use of buildings, land and transport networks as a means of reducing chronic problems, such as traffic congestion and urban sprawl (see



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