NOW ONLINE: IFHP UTC REPORT ON THE BELFAST ACTION PLAN

NOW ONLINE: IFHP UTC REPORT ON THE BELFAST ACTION PLAN

The International Federation for Housing and Planning is pleased to release the Outcome Report – Action Plan of the Urban Thinkers Campus held in Belfast from 31st of May to 2nd of June 2017.
 
The objective of the Belfast Urban Thinkers Campus was to assist the implementation stage of the New Urban Agenda by focusing on several of the World Urban Campaign’s “The City We Need” principles, namely how to make cities more 1) socially inclusive and engaging; 2) affordable, equitable and inclusive; 3) economically vibrant and inclusive; and 4) safe, healthy and promoting well-being.
 
The UTC Belfast successfully gathered an international community of 34 professionals in the fields of urban planning, economic development, architecture, housing, urban governance and leadership that participated as Speakers and Urban Lab Leaders, and more than hundred delegates attended the event. There was good representation from key stakeholder groups including, NGOs, Public Sector, Private Sector, Academics, Students, Community Leaders, Politicians and Civil Society, working together, sharing knowledge and raising questions in order to identify potential solutions through a collective effort and to agree in actions that will assist in making cities more cohesive, inclusive and fair to everyone.
 
 
The result of the UTC is the Outcome Report - Action Plan, to which all the presentations, discussions, study tours and informal conversations were a vehicle to formulate an Action Plan for the City of Belfast.
 
The main outcomes from the Urban Thinkers Sessions were:
  1. Housing for Everyone in the Central City
Future housing in the central city needs:
  • Careful planning
  • Commitment and investment
  • Key city centre sites
  1. Planning for people: Time to Reinvent Social Town Planning
  • Planning is mainly linked with economic growth and has been disconnected from people´s lives
  • Creating better places is about understanding the impact of the physical environment on our health and wellbeing
  • Political responsibility is essential
“We should recognise the living experiences of people recreating places for and with”
Kate Henderson, CEO TCPA
  1. Health, Wellbeing and Planning for the Inner City
  • Planning has a key role poverty reduction and contributes to health and wellbeing
  • Local plans tend to neglect poverty
  • Embed poverty and inequality within UK devolution initiatives
“Wellbeing is incredible linked to sustainable growth, if growth does not share the benefits with everyone, then we have problem”
Trudi Elliot, CEO RTPI
  1. Widening Access and Building Skills: Opportunities for the Inner City
  • The university will attract young people into the city centre and create a permanent flow of talents
  • The university acts not only as an educational provider but also as an employer
“We aim to create pathways for communication.”
Dr. Duncan Morrow, Director of Community Engagement at Ulster University
  1. Integrating People and Place
  • Need to create room for discussion and engage the different stakeholders
  • Need to understand the statistics and integrate them with peoples ‘perspectives
“We have to think of solutions. This is not about planning staying on a piece of the paper, this is about planning to actually make a real difference to these communities, these places that need change so desperately”
Andrew Haley, Landscape Architect and Chair of the ministerial Advisory Group
  1. Community Connectivity with the City- Dublin Case Study
  • Planning: need to apply a holistic approach, interdisciplinary knowledge is essential
  • Special places need special treatment
  1. The City for all: The New Culture of Urbanism
  • Involving the community helps in building confidence
  • Need to create public spaces as meeting points and a place for everyone
  • Multiple uses of the existing infrastructure
“Diversity is about going out to the communities and involving them into the shaping process of places.”
Kevin Murray, Director Academy of Urbanism and Chair of the Scottish Planning Skills Forum
The main outcomes from the Urban Labs, focused on 5 topics that guided the discussions and that culminated in the proposed Action Plan, were the following:
  • To ensure people of all ages in inner cities can access education and employment, there is the need for more and better visibility, to inform about employment opportunities; better coordination, to facilitate the sharing of information
  • To ensure inner city communities feel more physically integrated into the city, and that affordable housing is delivered alongside private housing and student housing in an inclusive and equitable city
  • To ensure the health and wellbeing of inner city communities there is a need to raise awareness and promote health and planning, as well as to promote more effective local planning
  • To ensure ‘citizens response’ in the successful implementation of urban policies empowering the citizens of Belfast to participate effectively in decision-making processes is a must to deepen the ‘Civic Capital’ of the City of Belfast
  • To enhance the links between inner city neighbourhoods and their city centres, there is the need to prevent urban sprawl, and to prevent the suburban flight of culturally- and economically- active community members
 
How will the outcomes of the UTC contribute to the implementation of the New Urban Agenda?
By 2050 the world urban population is expected to double thereby making urbanisation one of the most transformative trends in human history. The fulfilment of Sustainable Development Goals in this context becomes far more relevant and critical. The New Urban Agenda sets the framework on how cities should be planned and managed to promote sustainable urban development. The above mentioned key outcomes will impact the communities, promote a better integration between the city and its citizens, and help to advance and implement UN Habitat’s New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.
 
The successful implementation of the NUA calls for endorsement of good urban governance. This is based on the acknowledged principles of sustainability, subsidiarity, equity, efficiency, transparency and accountability, civic engagement and citizenship, and security, and that these norms are interdependent and mutually reinforcing.
 
The principle of ‘subsidiarity’ is crucial here and aims to ensure that decisions are taken as closely as possible to the citizen and that constant checks are made to verify that action at the local government level (in this case Belfast City Council) is justified. This calls for the greater participation of all stakeholders to reinvigorate trust in the urban process. Such form of decentralization and local democracy should improve the responsiveness of policies and initiatives to the priorities and needs of citizens in the city. In this regard, ‘equity’ of access to decision-making processes and the basic necessities of urban life are critical for the successful delivery of local plans and aspirations, as it is the case of the evolving Local Development Plan for Belfast. At the same time, ‘efficiency’ in the delivery of public services and in promoting local economic development is without doubt necessary for the future development of the city. In all this the call for ‘transparency and accountability’ of decision-makers and all stakeholders must be reiterated. Without ‘civic engagement and citizenship’, the NUA (and the evolving Local Development Plan for Belfast) remain a passive exercise. Indeed, living together in the City of Belfast is not a passive exercise and all stakeholders must actively contribute to the common good.
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Coming up on the IFHP Calendar:
 11th – 14th July 2017, IFHP Roundtable on “The Impact of Airbnb in European Cities at AESOP Congress in Lisbon, Portugal
 7th – 19th August 2017, IFHP Summer School, on “New Nodes of Urbanity”, in Helsinki, Turku & Tampere, Finland
 7th – 8th September 2017, International Housing Forum, in Singapore
 16th – 25th October 2017, World Design Summit, in Montreal, PQ, Canada
 15th November 2017, IFHP x DIS Seminar Night on Cities for People / People for Cities, in Copenhagen, Denmark.
 
Stayed tuned for more information on upcoming acts of implementation on the part of IFHP in partnership with the IFHP Community.

Download the official UTC report HERE


Article by Andreia Fidalgo & Olga Gaitani
Photo Credits: IFHP