Interregional Cooperation Programme INTERREG IVC

The Interregional Cooperation Programme INTERREG IVC, financed by the European Union’s Regional Development Fund, helps Regions of Europe work together to share experience and good practice in the areas of innovation, the knowledge economy, the environment and risk prevention. EUR 302 million is available for project funding but, more than that, a wealth of knowledge and potential solutions are also on hand for regional policy-makers.

B Team Project

As cities become more congested and green space and landscape disappears, innovative policies dealing with urban regeneration are increasingly important.

Through INTERREG IIIC projects such as BERI, REVIT and SUFALNET it became evident that though a lot of Brownfield sites are tackled and redeveloped individually there is no common policy framework and the success of redeveloped sites is to a certain extent random and not consistent.

Building on Brownfield land is essential if we are going to develop our regions in the sustainable way they need. Local and regional government policies and programmes play a key part in ensuring that this happens.

Some of the existing policies aimed at encouraging the reuse of land such as the UK target of building no less than 60% of new housing provision on Brownfields, have been already by far exceeded and are not regulative enough in order to be sustainable.

In previous projects we realised that certain activities could not be transferred because  of different policies/regulations. While some of the partners have the tools to implement their regeneration activities, others were hindered by their policies.

Experiences with BERI have shown that many of the problems cannot be solved in the short-term but need to be addressed in order to secure a medium-term land supply. These issues include:

  • The need for area-wide regeneration rather than dealing with individual sites
  • Streamlining of permitting and regulatory procedures
  • The requirement for major expenditure on infrastructure provision

Addressing these issues will necessitate the use of many different tools and require a framework of effective policy measures.

Even though some of the partners have a good track record for recycling Brownfields there are many barriers that make the process less efficient and less attractive than we would like e.g. in BERI some partners already identified an absence of Brownfield targets whilst Belfast’s weakness was a target without a clear definition undermining the what appeared to be a strong policy. The improved policies will increase the beneficial reuse of Brownfields including tackling some of the more difficult, long-term derelict and vacant sites that often blight communities.

The shared regional policy issue of the partners is that even though most of the partners are directly responsible for the redevelopment of their sites, they have to do so under the “umbrella” of regional/national/EU policies. Depending on the relation of these policies to Brownfields, they can either support or impede the development of sites. In some regions the policies are missing at all and every redevelopment project has to be tackled in a piece meal fashion without the support of an overarching policy framework. Especially in smaller or less experienced local authorities these sites are too complicated to be developed without the support of an available policy and consequently development is dealt with in an unsustainable way. Unsustainable trends in relation to climate change and energy use as well as the loss of biodiversity through unsustainable consumption of land still persist and the need increases to create sustainable communities able to use and manage resources efficiently.

Especially in the recent situation it must be feared that the collapse in housebuilding resulting from the credit crunch will threaten the green belt. Developers will only be interested in building when site preparation costs are at a minimum. There is the danger that public authorities will be so desperate for houses to be built that they will allow more development on Greenfield sites. Brownfield targets should not be watered down but have to be supported with strong policies.

In the difficult situation of today it is even more important that policies are in place which support development on Brownfield land and give local authorities a tool to implement their sustainability targets.