Rejuvenating a neglected quarter of Budapest

The Magdolna Quarter Programme II marks the second stage of an integrated social urban renewal project supported by the EU and aimed at regenerating the Magdolna quarter in Budapest.

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Projects such as this are helping the EU to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy by 2020, as set out in the EU 2020 growth strategy. The EU is facing some tough challenges, including an ageing population, an insufficiently qualified workforce, the need for greater innovation, striking a balance between economic growth and environmental degradation, and ensuring secure, clean energy supplies. Regional policy projects across the EU are playing an active role in dealing with these and many other challenges, by undertaking projects designed to generate employment, raise educational achievement, develop renewable energy sources, boost productivity and give all citizens access to opportunities. The projects and the regions play a pivotal role in this, as they generate real results that contribute to achieving the strategy’s key goals.

The programme, which was implemented between August 2008 and May 2011, sought to reintegrate this neglected quarter into the life of the district and the city and to build a neighbourhood that could accommodate all inhabitants, no matter what their age, cultural or social background.

Turning the tide for the Magdolna quarter

The Magdolna quarter was once one of the most neglected parts of Józsefváros district in Budapest, dominated by run-down buildings, a socially-disadvantaged population and high levels of unemployment. In 2005 this began to change when a complex and integrated programme for the regeneration of the quarter was undertaken. The first stage of this programme was supported by municipal and private finances but for the second stage, the EU stepped in offering substantial financial support for the extension of the programme.

Improving both environment and attitudes

The Magdolna Quarter Programme II worked on two levels – it involved repairing and renovating physical structures and the built environment as well as offering training and information sessions to inhabitants. Specifically, it comprised: the partial regeneration of 23 buildings; the reconstruction of Mátyás square; the renovation of a school; the establishment of a community sports playground; the organisation of social and crime-prevention programmes and the provision of trainings and advisory activities about employment and services.

Public safety was a strong feature of the programme. Since October 2008, neighbourhood police men and women have been patrolling the streets of the quarter and building close relationships with the locals. Meanwhile programmes such as educational classes on addiction and crime, restorative programmes, special care programmes for addicts and programmes providing casual employment for the homeless are all indirect means aimed at improving public safety.

Ultimately, the programme aims to change this formerly run-down district into a liveable and safe area, while both including and educating local inhabitants in the process. The programme demonstrates the added value of an integrated approach where a range of intervention areas are considered, including housing estates’ renewal,  the renovation of social areas, and capacity building programmes including crime prevention actions and employment programmes.

The situation in the quarter will continue to improve into the future as stage three of the programme plans further integrated projects in line with the district strategy up to 2020.

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