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Public utility park

Sustainable growth and social cohesion through the creation of a multifunctional public park
Bucharest / Romania
Size of city: 
2 106 144 habitants

Contact

Cristina Preda
Head of Department Cooperation and Territorial Cohesion
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Summary

The creation of a public utility park in the Ion Creanga neighbourhood of Bucharest (RO) was one of the objectives of the 2nd District Integrated Urban Development Plan, financed under the 2007-13 Regional Operational Programme. In line with goals for sustainable growth, the park was designed to integrate the social needs of the community with environmental protection, increase accessibility and mobility, and reduce disparities between the Ion Creanga area and more developed parts of Bucharest.
The project was inaugurated in 2012. The large green space now helps the local community by increasing quality of life, encouraging residents to take part in outdoor activities, and giving a chance for better connections between the Roma community and other residents. As for the area's public image, the park significantly improved the urban infrastructure and quality of the environment, including efficient energy use.

The solutions offered by the good practice

Sustainable development is the organising principle for meeting human development goals at the same time sustaining the ability of natural systems to provide the natural resources and ecosystem services upon which the economy and society depend. The problems the Ion Creanga area was facing before creating the green infrastructure, public utility park were: high percentage of petty crime, lack of facilities for people with disabilities, insufficient green space that contributed to the migration of young population to more developed areas, lack of recreational areas, air pollution, lack of awareness of environmental protection, a large amount of waste. The construction of the park in the Ion Creanga area offers a set of solutions to be implemented by EU member states:
• Making inner-city neighbourhoods more liveable, recreational opportunities for low-income children and families,
• Parks and recreational facilities have been strongly linked to reduced juvenile delinquency,
• Increasing residents' sense of community ownership and stewardship, providing a focus for neighbourhood activities, expose inner-city youth to nature, connect people from diverse cultures,
• Parks and open spaces make compact living attractive and feasible, every tree helps fight global warming by reducing the amount of greenhouse gases, parks and green infrastructure offset the warming effects on cities, making them cooler.
• The park's value is calculated through cleaner air and water that improve public health.

Building on the sustainable and integrated approach

The good practice presented was built on a sustainable and integrated approach as part of the 2nd District Integrated Urban Development Plan, which was considered the right solution for the area after various consultations between citizens in the area and local government representatives.
The public utility park in the Ion Creanga area can be a significant part of urban sustainable development, from the integrative approaches such as:
• Educational value - a public utility park is a valuable resource offering numerous educational programmes that bring together community members of diverse ages, ethnic backgrounds, and economic status to learn from one another.
• Economic value - a public utility park supports public health, the economy, the environment, education, and community cohesion; high-quality public utility parks also spur economic development by attracting homebuyers and boosting residential property values by as much as 15 percent, meaning greater wealth for residents and increased revenues for cities.
• Public Health value - urban public utility parks support public health by cleaning the air that the residents breathe, outdoor activities in open spaces lower stress, improve physical and emotional health, reduce hyperactivity, and build stronger immune systems.
• Community value - residents’ sense of community ownership and stewardship is increased.
• Environmental value - natural landscapes are vital, sustainable and rational management of waste, increasing energy efficiency.

Based on a participatory approach

To provide an efficient solution for the problems of the area in an integrated manner, the 2nd District Integrated Urban Development Plan was developed and financed under the Regional Operational Programme 2007-2013. The vision was to work with local people to guide a major change in the way the land is managed and to give the local communities a better future.
A series of measures were being undertaken within this framework in close collaboration with local stakeholders, authorities all working together. To better define and address the solution to the local community the 2nd District City Hall organised a series of debates and public consultations, advertised the project on its website and took all the active measures to integrate the community’s demands in the project.

What difference has it made?

The park's creation had positive impacts in terms of environment, health and community:
* It made the Ion Creanga neighbourhood more liveable; it offered recreational opportunities for at-risk youth, low-income children, and low-income families;
• It increased residents’ sense of community ownership and stewardship, provided a focus for neighbourhood activities, expose inner-city youth to nature, connect people from diverse cultures, improved the interaction and communication with the Roma residents in the
• Provided a high quality environment for the community;
• Provided sustainable and rational management of waste by installing compartmentalised bins to educate the population to collect garbage differently;
• Increased energy efficiency through the automated installation of lighting and irrigation systems;
• Increased outdoor activities in open spaces, connection through sports and games between Roma children and Romanian children;
• Attracted homebuyers and boosted residential property values in the area by as much as 15 percent.

Why should other European cities use it?

Sustainable development is the organising principle for meeting human development goals while at the same time sustaining the ability of natural systems to provide the natural resources and ecosystem services upon which the economy and society depends. The desirable end result is a state of society where living conditions and resource use continue to meet human needs without undermining the integrity and stability of the natural systems.
The good practice presented is relevant in the context of social, economic and environment challenges that Europe faces nowadays by encouraging a smarter, more integrated approach to development which ensures that Europe’s limited space is utilised in as efficient and coherent a way as possible and it can be transferred to smaller or larger areas, both at district level or broader territorial contexts.
Therefore, the good practice could be implemented in other areas that face problems Ion Creanga area faces and where it is vital to create green area for increasing the quality of life of the community and for changing and improving the neighbourhood. In the context of a European Union that promotes sustainable growth and especially the protection of the environment, it is imperative to build more green areas in the cities that lead to pollution reduction, social improvement and especially better living conditions for the citizens.