Urban markets come in all shapes and sizes: indoor or outdoor, specific to a particular product or type of foodstuff or mixed, located in the same place or travelling. But urban markets all share some things in common: they happen in local communities, they provide a source of jobs and local wealth, they provide a link to local products, they embrace the way people live and work in communities, and they are also shop windows for cities and different areas of cities in general. In short, markets breathe life into cities.
This project aims to harness the power of local urban markets to highlight best practice and answer three HOW questions:
- How can markets be used as a tool for regenerating cities and specific neighbourhoods?
- How can markets improve local sustainable living?
- How can markets generate economic wealth and jobs?
What makes markets rich regarding best-practice in the above questions and their effectiveness as urban development policy tools is the fact that they involve many different types of stakeholders, and our project aims to embrace their views and experience to explore markets’ full potential.
During the first phase of the project up until the end of October 2012 we will be identifying the state of the art in partner cities. The three core issues related to our project will each be led by a partner city.
Town centre regeneration (Barcelona)
The city of Barcelona will lead knowledge building initiatives in the area of town centre regeneration. Some focal study points here are covered by three aspects of market regeneration:
- The social impact of market renewal on neighbourhoods, especially, for improving disadvantaged communities and focusing on how markets can be used as integration tools for community development and how these can be used as a tool to develop urban plans for communities and whole cities, so too the remodelling of historic buildings for market usage, with related issues concerning their conservation as cultural heritage, and how to use markets a tools for resolving wider city services planning or transportation and mobility issues within cities, like car parking.
- Market regeneration.
- Markets and their economic impact through city capital investment policies, the role of public private partnerships on market regeneration and ways to develop markets through tourism.
Low carbon economies and local supply
The second project challenge area will be led by London. This will explore aspects related to sustainability and local supply:
- In terms of social impact, the focus of study will be how to improve the quality of life in general for communities involved with markets and how they can integrate communities into cities and also enhance the urban-rural networks that are essential to market supply chains.
- Low carbon economies like the ones markets often use might have important benefits for urban areas. Part of this question would also examine markets’ storage and waste management systems approaches to sustainability and supply chain issues, but so too regarding related questions exploring the way rural communities can be integrated better into this supply relationship.
- The economic aspect and the relevance of zero-kilometre supply chain systems for sustainability and related issues to environmental-friendly or green branded products and produce could also be a huge advantage for urban markets. This area of study could also focus on the sorts of facilities found in markets that enhance sustainability.
Employment and entrepreneurship
The city of Torino will lead the third focus area addressing issues related to employment and entrepreneurship
- The creation of business opportunities and especially jobs in markets and their related direct and indirect economic benefits is a core issue that many cities want to address especially given the backdrop of the current recession.
- There are also economic synergies that neighbourhoods with successful markets can use to leverage local economies and this can have much wider positive effects on the local high street and immediate community.
- Another focus area to be studied includes how to develop brands and other commercial strategies to create consumer preferences for local marketplace produce and enhance their overall attractiveness for consumers.
These three core areas of interest in this project will share certain common aspects running across them, like the different types of management structures used for markets organisation and stakeholder engagement, so too the different financing mechanisms available, and, especially, communication strategies and tools that might have wider reaching aims including, say, how to generate healthy eating habits.
The conviction that markets are a positive driver for the development of cities and that URBACT represents a tremendous opportunity to learn more and to explain our model to other cities in a European framework that is undoubtedly made stronger by working together and sharing experiences.
Firstly, we hope that the citizens that live in the different partnering cities in this project will benefit from the Local Action Plans that we design. Our objectives have economic, commercial, social and environmental implications and these will generate many benefits at different levels.
Secondly, we hope that cities and their managers make use of the information being shared by the URBACT Secretariat to make the most of our experiences.