In the aftermath of the financial crisis, the public sector has lost the steering role, both in terms of power and financial resources, to actively steer urban development. Besides, the financial crisis, the speculative retention of land ready for development has caused serious problems in urban development, whereby under-used land has been intentionally kept off the market.
There is a need for a more flexible approach to the use of land which is currently often under-used in order to reduce pressure on the development of greenfield sites and to avoid urban sprawl and land take. Developing an approach to encourage the development or use of under-used sites, therefore, links to achieving sustainable urban development. Under-used spaces present opportunities for new development (residential, industrial, office, public/shared space, green and blue infrastructure) or for temporary or long-term re-use. It is important to note that green natural and agricultural areas are not considered in this context as under-used, the problems are “wastelands”, unused and vacant areas within the urban boundary.
In order to stimulate of the potential of unused or under-used opportunities in spaces (e.g. vacant or under-used land, empty, abandoned or under-used buildings, unsustainable areas, such as brownfields) the public sector has to play a more active role. For that, innovative approaches are needed, replacing the previous direct interventions, based on top-down planning tools.
The Partnership has identified that the public sector could take more of an enabling role, particularly in terms of increasing awareness and information levels around under-used urban sites with potential stakeholders, users, investors and developers.
The action is required to improve the level and transparency of information available in the public domain regarding under-used sites in urban areas and to better consider approaches for catalysing the use of under-used sites.
The Partnership has identified that part of this ‘enabling’ could consist of the mapping of under-used urban land parcels in order to provide information to the public sector, the private sector, citizens and other stakeholders. This information might include zoning or use class designations, ownership, relevant policies, designations and restrictions, size, contamination etc and information on how these sites might be developed, both regarding temporary and more permanent use options. There is also a need for collecting good practice about the different options of managing under-used areas. Here, special attention has to be paid to the case of privately owned sites, especially in the context of speculative land-banking. This action could be extended to the member states with such mapping/inventorying to become an integrated part of every urban/ spatial plan.
The final outcome of the action would include a Guideline Document for the cities, potentially consisting of two main parts:
PART I: Planning the procedure for MS’/ local authorities to map their under-used spaces.
PART II: Managing under-used properties by identifying appropriate incentives for the landowners/ investors to invest in the identified areas.
- Sustainable Use of Land and Nature-Based Solutions Partnership full Draft Action Plan
- Draft Action 1: INCLUDING LAND TAKE IN IMPACT ASSESSMENT PROCEDURES
- Draft Action 2: FINANCING MODELS FOR BROWNFIELD DEVELOPMENT
- Draft Action 4: INDICATORS OF LAND TAKE
- Draft Action 5: PROMOTING FUA COOPERATION AS A TOOL TO MITIGATE URBAN SPRAWL
- Draft Action 6: BETTER REGULATION TO BOOST NBS AT EUROPEAN, NATIONAL AND LOCAL LEVELS
- Draft Action 7.1: PREPARE AN NBS FUNDING GUIDE TO ASSIST CITIES IN ACCESSING FUNDING FOR NBS PROJECTS
- Draft Action 7.2: OVERCOMING THE BIAS FOR EXISTING SOLUTIONS THROUGH NBS FINANCIAL INCENTIVES MAINSTREAMING
- Draft Action 8: AWARENESS RAISING IN THE AREAS OF NBS AND SUSTAINABLE USE OF LAND (URBAN SPRAWL)
- Draft Action 9: AGREEING ON COMMON TARGETS AND INDICATORS FOR NATURE-BASED SOLUTIONS, URBAN GREEN STRUCTURE, BIODIVERSITY AND ECOSYSTEM SERVICES IN CITIES