SamenMakenWeHeerlen – TogetherWeMake-Heerlen- SSA

Municipality of Heerlen drew up the Bid Book 'Urban Heerlen' in 2016. This bid book describes how Heerlen wants to develop its centre around 5 themes with 25 different ambitions. The bid book received great appreciation at the time. Many ambitions have since been realised.

Background & Objective

The municipality now wants to build on these successes and update the bid book. The new version will include a number of plans that are already on the council's radar. In addition, the municipality explicitly wants to include the wishes and ideas of stakeholders. This should also be a basis for further work on the city centre together with them. To gain insight into the ideas and wishes of all stakeholders, we conducted an intensive participation process. This 'photo of the city' was made at a time when the first results of the city centre revitalisation are visible. For example, the Maankwartier has been realised, the new city hall has just been taken down and the Nieuwe Nor (pop stage) is undergoing major renovation. At the same time, many plans are still in preparation, such as the tackling of the Promenade, the Van Grunsvenplein and the Roman Quarter. Involved parties often seem to be unaware of these plans.

Approach of the SSA
In order to collect ideas and wishes, we have chosen a low-threshold approach, in which we get ideas and opinions from as many people as possible. This

approach is based on inspiration from our partner city in iPlace Pori:
- We worked on the future of Heerlen city centre for four weeks in the month of July. We did this at a location in the 'heart of the city centre'. On the Promenade, we strikingly decorated an empty building. We created a living room atmosphere and stimulated visitors (who could walk in spontaneously) to share their ideas. On average, ±15 people walked in each day (estimate). In total, there were ± 180.
- We organised workshops around specific themes and stakeholders. In total, we held about 12 meetings. These meetings focused on questions such as 'what is going well', 'what can be improved' and 'what should be the focus for the coming years'. In total, ±80 participants took part in the workshops. A small selection of the meetings can be seen in the photos.
- We sent out a survey. Approximately 660 people responded.
The first results of the participation process were presented during a festive closing meeting at the end of July.

We welcomed many people to our pop-up location during the participation process! A lot of input was also given during the various workshops and more than 650 people completed the survey. We have tried to process this information as well as possible. Of course, we hope to deliver a report and Integrated Action Plan in which the participants can recognise themselves!

In addition, this report is only one of the building blocks for the new centre strategy and Integrated Action Plan. Other factors are also important when considering whether or not to include points of interest from this report in the Integrated Action Plan. For example:
Our focus during the SSA has been on the wishes of participants, but no research has been done into affordability and manufacturability, for example. Of course, this is important in order to determine whether or not it is desirable to include the points of attention in the Integrated Action Plan.
Not all activities fall within the municipality's responsibility and influence. Whether an entrepreneur wants to establish himself in Heerlen, for example, is a decision that the entrepreneur himself makes.
Some points of interest are already included in the current plans. For example, 'adding green' is often mentioned as a point of attention. There are already plans to green the Promenade, as well as the Van Grunsvenplein and the area around the city office. The expectation is that the execution of these plans will start soon.

But a lively city is more than that. A lively city centre is not only created by the government, but especially with the people of the city. Initiatives that are organised 'bottom-up', such as the Stadstuin (City Garden), are highly appreciated. The question is therefore how the power of such initiators can be better deployed in the coming years.
In the years to come, Heerlen will fully focus on the involvement of citizens, which will greatly increase the chance of successful policies, initiatives and projects. The Municipality of Heerlen wants to take a leading position in this respect in the coming years.

Visitor who left a story at #SamenMakenWeHeerlen
Chapeau
"I was born and raised in Heerlen. I have experienced all the changes (positive and negative) in the past 60 years. Heerlen is definitely on the right track, but we are still far from there. The terraces on Pancratiusplein provide the opportunity to meet and greet. We must focus on togetherness and the ability and willingness to do something for each other. No separate Heerlen islands, but a beautiful city where people want to live and want to be. And above all, a city that we (the council and the residents) can be proud of and remain proud of! Tackle litter and the multiplication of pigeons. Don't close your eyes to the drugs problem and keep building on our beautiful city. Chapeau so far!"

 

Written by Yvette Petit (Heerlen Municipality)

Submitted by Sonia Files on 23/03/2022