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Radlin

Upper Silesia in Poland is one of Europe’s large industrial areas based on its extensive coal mining and power generation capacity. In the Katowice region there are several cities with a combined population estimated at 3.5 million. In this region close to the Czech border lies Radlin, a small city with a population of less than 20,000 and only 8 kilometres from the much larger city of Rybnik with a population closer to 150,000.

The development of Radlin is intertwined with the growth and the operation of the local coal mine and the coking factory.

The Marcel coal mine provides employment for 3,000 people and the nearby coking plant provides further employment for 450. The city has always had high employment levels, which makes it a place where people want to live, but the mining and related activities also have a negatively impact especially on the public health and the natural environment in the city. Almost 20% of the city area is covered by the coal mine, the coking factory and mine heaps. To counter the environmental effects e.g. mine heaps, the Municipality wants to green the city with more green areas, landscaping and planting of trees and flower beds in public places.

The urban form of the city is best described as functional to serve the needs of miners and factory workers who want to live close to their work place. The structure for the centre is not cohesive. The commercial area is adjunct to the main street for which the main purpose is connecting the residential areas to the mine. The peak hours for traffic in the centre coincide with the change of shifts at the mine.

To change the ‘mining monoculture' will require physical changes to the landscape. In this regard the Municipality is developing plans for new parks and landscaping. It will however also need to nurture the active participation of residents in a range of community activities that will promote environmental improvements and increase the range of outdoor activities. The possibilities are good that residents will be responsive given their concerns about high levels of air pollution caused by the mining and industrial activity.

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