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8 Area Revitalisation Projects of Łódź city centre
City/Region : The City of Łódź , Poland

The action covers the urban regeneration of several central quarters of Łódź, a 19th century city which has been neglected by the communist authorities and subject to a legacy of bourgeois exploitation for decades, using an area-based and people-based approach. During the political and economic transformation at the turn of the 1990s and 2000s, the city's difficult situation related to massive unemployment, caused by the collapse of the dominant textile industry, exacerbated technical and social problems. Therefore, the municipality, with the support of EU funds, has embarked on an extensive programme to revitalise the degraded historic city centre in cooperation with citizens.

EU Green Deal Policy Areas Addressed
Building and renovating
Pathways followed
  • Involve citizens through participatory implementation
  • Capitalise on local economy and production
Context
property at 46 Tuwima Street after revitalisation

The metropolitan zone is the central and oldest urban structure of Łódź, containing the largest number of magnificent residential and factory buildings and the most fully developed quarters. This area is by far the largest among all Polish cities: 1,400 hectares. It contains more than 10,000 buildings built before World War II and houses a majority of municipal housing stock. Still many of the historic town houses aren’t connected to municipal water, sewage systems or central heating. Instead, they are often heated with furnaces (there are about 13,500 solid fuel-fired furnaces in council flats only), which contributes to high levels of air pollution during the winter season. The aim of the revitalisation of the central area is to make it a better place to live, work and spend free time, and is also accompanied by a number of soft measures aimed at different social groups of residents.

In Action
property at 46 Tuwima Street before revitalisation

The revitalisation of the central area of the city will make it possible to improve the quality of life of its inhabitants and provide conditions capable of attracting new residents and more investors. To this end, an extensive programme of area revitalisation of the centre of Łódź is being carried out, implemented under 8 projects. As part of 8 area revitalisation projects, 69 properties (more than 100 buildings, mainly town houses), are undergoing complex renovation. Modernisation also includes sections of 20 streets in the centre, where the priority is to introduce more greenery, together with renovation of 3 parks. The projects started in 2017 and are scheduled for completion in 2023, with a total investment of more than 224 million EUR. The programme also includes a number of activities to animate and support local communities and introduce new social functions like: training flats, Local Activity Centres, Neighbourhood Clubs, etc.

To facilitate this urban regeneration scheme and support residents affected by the process directly, we had to plan and organise the relocation of almost 1,000 families to another flat for the duration of retrofitting. To ensure that these changes were carried out with the greatest possible respect for the needs of residents, a special team of city officers has been set up: the so called Area Hosts and Lighthouse Keepers (AHs&LKs). AHs are responsible for providing up-to-date information on planned revitalisation activities and foreseen relocation schedules, while LKs help residents directly in the process of relocation and provide comprehensive support in solving daily problems (e.g. encourage residents to join debt arrangement schemes, collect and transport food parcels). Together they offer assistance at each stage of the process to reduce the difficulties of such a life change and help build trust in the city’s activities.

In Łódź we are now conducting an urban-regeneration process on a large scale, including: street reconstruction, renovation of town houses and improving the quality of public space. However, our goal is more than just a beautiful urban environment - together with the inhabitants we want to create a safe, friendly city, responding to real social needs. The employment of Social Lighthouse Keepers and the Area Hosts stems from our concern for the citizens of Łódź and desire to improve the long and complex process of city renewal. We already know that this was the right decision” - Joanna Skrzydlewska, Deputy Mayor of the City of Łódź.

Integration

In view of the enormity of the challenges that awaited the city in relation to revitalisation, we were one of the first in Poland to conduct a model Pilot Project - preparation for proper revitalisation - from 2014 – 2016, with support from EU funds and the Ministry of Investment and Development. As part of the First Revitalisation Pilot Project, we conducted a series of studies, analyses, inventories, as well as social activities in the form of three programmes: animation, participation and education. (http://centrumwiedzy.org/strona-glowna/o-projekcie/)

Between 2017 and 2019, we carried out the Second Revitalisation Pilot Project, which was largely aimed at supporting the inhabitants of the revitalisation area and developing model solutions to the diagnosed problems of the inhabitants and the city, as well as testing them in the real conditions of the ongoing revitalisation process in Łódź. (http://centrumwiedzy.org/projekt-pilotazowy-ii/dzialania/)

The experience gained in earlier national projects has been transferred to the international project "Urban-Regeneration-Mix," implemented under the URBACT III programme, in which we developed our good practice of working with citizens in the regeneration process. The Urbact Local Group has brought together cultural institutions, schools, NGOs, local leaders and activists, residents' representatives, and the Municipality - helping to build mutual trust between residents and institutions, and enhancing mutual cooperation. (https://rewitalizacja.uml.lodz.pl/rewitalizacja/wybrane-projekty-rewitalizacji/urbact-urban-regeneration-mix/)

Revitalisation is supported by 2 more projects under the HORIZON 2020 programme:

T-Factor, which aims to explore the most advanced and innovative examples of the use of temporary measures in creativity- and culture-based urban regeneration. (https://www.t-factor.eu/);

The EuPOLIS project, which aims to replace or combine traditional, costly engineering systems designed to protect the environment with natural systems to create resilient urban ecosystems while improving the quality of life for residents. The project addresses critical challenges such as poor environmental quality and low biodiversity in public spaces and water resources. (https://eupolis-project.eu/)

Results
property at 46 Tuwima Street after revitalisation

The ultimate number of all flats to be created as part of the revitalisation projects will be 1,086, located in 109 buildings.

As of today, approximately 2,800 people have been covered by cross-financing activities. (This means, contracts are already implemented and in the course of implementation where activities have already started).

1. Activities to integrate and support the introduction of the social function: training/training aimed at users of social functions: - supporting the process of becoming independent (residents of sheltered housing, wards of care institutions), - supporting professional activation, - adults and children in dedicated Day Care Centres, - increasing competences, knowledge and skills - educators from care and educational institutions, librarians, social workers; workshops and trainings for the local community related to the introduced social functions (reading support workshops, tolerance classes, etc.) or activation activities related to building neighbourhood ties and shared responsibility for the common space; building partnerships for the area (NGOs, entrepreneurs, local leaders, cultural institutions); animation activities (in particular socio-cultural animation activities, artistic-cultural workshops, neighbourhood picnics, outdoor events, etc.)

2. Volunteering: Recruitment and training of volunteers and the coordination of volunteering dedicated to social functions; organisation of work of neighbourhood volunteers; integration and awareness-raising activities on volunteering.

Impact

Since 2011, the City of Łódź has focused its activities on the comprehensive improvement of the technical condition of the existing housing stock by implementing the "City of Tenements building renovation programme": retrofitting and thermal-modernisation investments have been made in 226 buildings, including 193 residential buildings. In addition, since 2016, investment activities have been launched under the 8 Area Revitalisation Projects in the centre of Łódź and the Revitalisation of the Priest’s Mill district. The ultimate number of all flats to be created as part of the revitalisation projects will be 1,086, located in 109 buildings.

Thanks to the renovation of the town houses, the quality of life of their residents has improved. The buildings have been connected to central heating and the sewage system. Every flat has a bathroom with a toilet. They have also been thermally modernised, which has a positive impact on the environment as the buildings are less polluting and more energy efficient. New greenery is being planted around the buildings, green squares and pocket parks are being created. New or modernised children's playgrounds are built. Urban spaces have been made accessible to people with disabilities and older people who often have mobility problems.

Creating user-friendly urban spaces: this project is being implemented entirely in the revitalisation area, in multiple locations. It envisages the design and furnishing of attractive urban spaces with inclusive features, with the involvement of residents in their design.

All these activities and changes contribute to the vitality of the urban fabric and encourage residents to become actively involved in their immediate neighbourhood and later in the city as a whole. Seeing the renovated, beautiful, green and friendly urban spaces, the residents want to take care of them. They get involved in joint projects, apply for micro-grants and realise their ideas within the civic budget.

Challenges and lessons learned
property at 46 Tuwima Street after revitalisation

Difficulties of running investments, including the challenges of renovating historic buildings - limitations on the scope of work, high costs, issues of making life difficult for residents, especially in relation to street renovations.

Challenges related to working with people - difficult, accumulated problems of various types over the years, e.g. 'inherited poverty', unemployment, addictions, health problems (physical and mental), rent debt, social vulnerability.

In addition, implementation of many activities during pandemic and/or unexpected changes in the situation.

Need to adapt the 2016-2017 plans to new challenges in 2022 (e.g. implementation of social functions, need to redefine them).

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