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Polycentric Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (POLY-SUMP)

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‘Diffuse city’ regions are territories where urban functions (work, shop, entertainment etc.) are scattered in a polycentric network of compact towns and villages. Urban sprawl is also affecting diffuse city regions: arrays of houses and economic activities are increasingly growing along the roads connecting the different centers. Both create a strong dependency on individual car use. Diffuse cities areas need to introduce Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans that relate to the wider area and take a multi-governance approach to be effective. POLY-SUMP has trialled a participatory approach, based on the Future Search methodology, that engages citizens and stakeholders in the whole area. The project guided six diffuse city regions through this particpatory process to help develop a shared vision of urban mobility and an action plan for the preparation of an integrated Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan. The participating regions were: Regione Marche (IT); Alentejo Central (PT); Central Macedonia (EL); Parkstad Limberg (NL); Heart Slovenia; Rhine Alp (AT).


  • The project prepared detailed guidance on how to implement a participatory approach that engages citizens and stakeholders in a poly-centric region to develop a shared vision of sustainable mobility. See 'The Poly-SUMP Methodology - How to develop a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan for a polycentric region'.
  • The Poly-SUMP Methodology was applied and tested in six regions in Europe including Regione March (IT), Central Alentejo (PT), Central Macedonia (Greece), Parkstad Limburg (NL), Rhine Alp (AT) and The Heart of Slovenia (Sl). This confirmed the suitability of the approach and highlighted numerous benefits: common interests are identified; new ideas born; cooperations are initiated; a momentum for regional urban mobility planning is established.
  • Ten poly-centric accessibility and mobility indicator have been identified that help measure the degree of polycentrism in a region and help understand the regional structure and mobility patterns.

Lessons learned

  • The Poly-SUMP Methodology can help developing a regional vision and actions toward more coordinated and effective urban mobility planning. It can help improve cooperation across government levels, and aid dialogue between neighbourhoods, civil society actors and other stakeholders. It can help create momentum toward the development fo a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan for the whole region.
  • Key to the success of the approach are an invitation process that ensures a balanced representation of all relevant groups and that informs participants well in advance about the approach and its benefits. Recruiting the right number of stakeholders to creat a well-balanced group of different stakholders is the most delicate and difficult step in the process.
  • The Poly-SUMP Methodlogy is flexible in many ways. However, the Future Search Workshops conducted as part of the Poly-SUMP Methodology should follow a strict structure to maximise results.
  • It proved very difficult to recruit stakeholders for a three day event, especially local policians and policy makers. As groups in the project tended to be smaller, shortening the workshop to two days did not seem to jeopardise the timing of the workshop sessions.
  • Once the Future Search Workshop is completed it is essential that the dialogue in the region continues ensuring that decision makers who have authority and legitimacy act on the actions identified during the workshop. Their involvement in the workshop is therefore crucial.

Partners and coordinator

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Regione Marche
Contact point: 
Mr. Mario Pompei (Coordinator)
+39 071 806 7303-7300


Key documents

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In brief

14/04/2012 to 14/10/2014
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