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URBACT in

Lithuania

Officially there are 103 towns and cities in Lithuania. Two largest cities with the highest concentration of urban population are the capital city Vilnius with approximately 550,000 inhabitants and Kaunas with more than 300,000 inhabitants. Three more cities having over 100,000 inhabitants are Klaipėda (~160,000) which is also country’s only seaport, Šiauliai (~110,000) and Panevėžys (~100,000).

The main urban development issues in Lithuania are:

  • Spontaneous urban development and decreasing urban population. Due to the spontaneous urban development cities faced a relatively new phenomenon in Lithuania: gated communities. This chaotic expansion of new settlements also led to the aging urban population: older people stay to live in central part of the city while young families move to the suburban areas.
  • Urban sprawl characterised by dispersive urban growth on rural land, low population density, heavy automobile usage (70-90%) and therefore resulting in resource inefficiency, impact on landscape, traffic and air quality problems, etc.
  • Development of public infrastructure. Recent real estate bubble, rapid urban development and chaotic expansion of new settlements resulted in fragmentary developed public transport system and social and engineering infrastructure.
  • Spatial planning. Taking into account current challenges of urban development in Lithuania spatial planning should be based on integrated sustainable urban policy and aimed at urban densification in order to ensure sustainable development of infrastructure, compact towns and settlements, efficient land use, protection of nature and cultural heritage.
  • Refurbishment of housing stock. The downtowns of Lithuanian cities are surrounded by vast Soviet boroughs of apartment blocks accommodating the majority of Lithuania’s urban population. These old and built under low construction standards buildings together with the infrastructure around them now are in need of renovation in order to achieve energy-efficiency targets and ensure comfort for the dwellers.
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