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Evaluation of the Urban Development Funding Programme "Urban Restructuring in the Old Federal States"

Summary. Ed.: BMVBS, Berlin, April 2012

Project management:
Weeber+Partner, Institut für Stadtplanung und Sozialforschung, Berlin
Dr. Martina Buhtz (project leader), Dr. Heike Gerth, Dr. Margit Lindner, Stephanie Marsch, Alexander Meier
German Institute of Urban Affairs, Berlin
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Klaus J. Beckmann (project leader), Gregor Jekel, Dr. Bettina Reimann, Dr. Arno Bunzel, Michael Hardinghaus, Detlef Landua, Patrick Diekelmann

Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR), Bonn
Evi Goderbauer


Mission and objectives of the evaluation

Together with the German Länder, the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development (BMVBS) initiated an evaluation of the urban development funding programme "Urban Restructuring in the Old Federal States". In 2010, on behalf of the BMVBS, the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR) commissioned the Institute for Urban Planning and Social Research Weeber + Partner and the German Institute of Urban Affairs (Difu) with the evaluation of the programme.

After nearly seven years of the programme's duration, it should be demonstrated how suitable the instruments used in the "Urban Restructuring in the Old Federal States" programme have proved to be in effectively addressing the impact of urban development caused by demographic and economic change as well as how the viability and attractiveness of West German cities and municipalities can be strengthened and promoted.

The evaluation was completed in October 2011 with recommendations for further development and continuation of the "Urban Restructuring in the Old Federal States" programme.

Study approach and methodology

Different initial situations and requirements for action in West German cities and municipalities as well as the associated complexity of the urban development funding programme "Urban Restructuring in the Old Federal States", led to special challenges in evaluating the research taxonomy applied and the methodological instruments used. In addition to the accompanying information provided by the BMVBS, the mix of empirical methods, amongst others, comprised evaluations of the state of research, analyses of the socio-economic framework, of the housing market and land development as well as the evaluation of forecasts, research and analyses of the programme design in the Länder, expert interviews with players in the field of urban restructuring of the Federal Government and the Länder as well as case studies in 25 selected urban restructuring municipalities, including interviews with local players.

Results and impacts of the programme

Since the programme was launched in 2004, the Federal Government provided financial assistance amounting to approximately 335 million euros by the end of 2009. The Federal financial assistance was continuously provided from 2004 to 2009 and was increased to 96 million euros in 2009. These were approximately 17% of all urban development funds that year. In 2010 and 2011, this amount was reduced again.

Funding, as with all Federal Government and Länder urban development funding programmes, is done in the form of a proportionate financial aid. The Federal Government assumes 33.3%; the federal states and municipalities add their own - usually proportionate - contribution. From 2004 to 2009, the total funding framework of the programme reached more than 1 billion euros. All Western Länder, including Berlin, participated in the programme.

The continuous provision of funds enabled the number of municipalities involved in the programme (i.e. the participating municipalities) to gradually increase from 81 to 381. A total of 399 funding measures were supported from 2004 to 2009 in the cities and municipalities of the Western Länder involved in the urban development funding programme "Urban Restructuring in the Old Federal States".

Urban restructuring to address demographic and economic structural change

The need for action of the Federal Government and the Länder governments to initiate the "Urban Restructuring in the Old Federal States" programme, results from two key societal challenges: demographic change, characterised by partial population decline and a growing proportion of older people in the total population, and economic structural change, characterised by the transition from an industrial society to an information and knowledge-based society as well as by the restructuring processes of industry, commerce, the military, railways and retail.

The need for action under the "Urban Restructuring in the Old Federal States” programme results from the consequences of this structural change on urban development. They, amongst others, include the emergence of brownfield sites and vacant buildings and former industrial, commercial and military facilities and public thoroughfares; the loss of function and urban quality defects in city centres, local district centres and urban areas; altered functional, quantitative and qualitative requirements for facilities with social and technical infrastructures as well as decay, loss in functional significance and neglect of not only public streets and squares, parks and open spaces, but also of the immediate residential environment.

The programme objectives and fields of action address these and other structural problems. In doing so, the programme should also have a preventive approach. Therefore, it is not only the municipalities with a shrinking development path that participate in the programme, but also those that are stable and growing.

Structural change with differentiated consequences in the Länder

Economic and demographic structural change is taking place within the Western Länder very differently both at regional and urban level. The nationwide, ever-increasing differentiation of shrinking regions and growth regions leads to a need for targeted intervention and controlling measures at the Länder level. The strategies employed by the Länder for urban restructuring activities in the old federal states set different priorities according to the Länder's political overall strategies and the programme's funding scheme.

City-wide strategy development as a model that goes beyond urban restructuring

"Urban Restructuring in the Old Federal States" is defined by its preventive function. It should enable municipalities to react timely and, above all, to strategically face structural changes. Developing and updating urban development concepts is therefore an integral part of the programme.

Urban development concepts have proved to be the central basis of concerted, strategic action and political decision-making to address on-going structural change. In the urban development concepts, the need for strategic action, guiding principles and objectives are fleshed out and spatial priorities and measures are defined. Urban development concepts involve all functional areas of urban development. This means the urban restructuring process in practice gives important impetus to the internal administrative and public debate on current and anticipated consequences of structural change.

Urban restructuring measures that involve new forms of process control and participation

The evaluation shows that the programme leads to new forms of process control and participation of players, and to the qualification and further development of existing control structures. The more intensively and committedly players are involved in concept development and process implementation within and outside municipal administrations, the stronger the integrative and stimulating effect of the programme. Intermunicipal and regional cooperation are also significantly intensified through urban restructuring measures. This form of cooperation has helped to counter competing uses and destructive competition and to promote the development of coordinated joint strategies.

Pooling funds

Urban restructuring measures provide impetus on the grounds of their financial resources and specified aid instruments; however, because of their complexity, they often can only be implemented by pooling other public and private resources. Support programmes of the Länder, resources from the EU Structural Funds, the Federal Government-Länder programme "Socially Integrative City", municipal funding programmes and especially public-private investment funds are indispensable financial components.

Strengthening inner cities through urban restructuring activities

Three out of four urban restructuring areas are located in inner cities and town centres or on the edges of inner cities. Formative for urban restructuring is that they are strengthened and secured as places that stand for supply, public life, living and working. As a result, they are central areas of urban restructuring activity. In the meantime, the urban restructuring measures have contributed to increasing the attractiveness of many inner cities, have revived them and led to new and improved use.

The integration of small-scale proprietors in urban restructuring activities in inner cities remains especially difficult. Approaches to solve this problem include associations of house owners and (municipal) counselling. Dealing with the problem of derelict properties and the negative impact on the development of some areas in inner cities and town centres still requires stipulations to be added to existing legal instruments.

Re-using brownfield sites through urban restructuring

With the "Urban Restructuring in the Old Federal States" programme, municipalities are now able to eliminate wastelands and to fully develop them. This is a feature of the "Urban Restructuring in the Old Federal States" programme. 40% of urban restructuring measures take place on brownfield sites. The commitment of municipalities concentrates on preventing negative developments in sites affected by a lack of use or in wasteland areas. They try to secure access to the plot of land at an early stage.

Demands for action, however, still remain when contamination impedes potential new uses or when there is no demand for new uses and thus no further development and investment interest exists, particularly in municipalities or regions whose development is weak. In addition, lengthy negotiation processes with land owners delay or prevent development. The re-use of brownfield sites has thus proven to be a great challenge in many respects.

It can safely be assumed that the on-going economic structural change and, above all, the planned closure of German armed forces ("Bundeswehr") locations, will lead to further brownfield sites. The "Urban Restructuring in the Old Federal States" programme must therefore continue to make indispensable contributions to the re-use of brownfield sites in the future.

Stabilization by upgrading, demolishing and adapting urban districts and residential areas

In residential areas and urban districts, urban restructuring primarily serves to upgrade and eliminate vacant dwellings. Especially in housing estates dating from the 1950s to the 1970s, demolition measures in some of the regions were necessary as the buildings had become vacant due to a lack of demand. Strengthening existing local shopping centres, upgrading living spaces, adapting the infrastructure of facilities and improving adjacent open spaces are measures that aim at creating more housing and better quality of life for residents, but are primarily focused on creating social stability and stabilizing the location in the long term.

Improving the urban development quality by "Urban Restructuring in the Old Federal States"

The results of the evaluation show that the eligible urban restructuring measures are well targeted. In particular, the (interim) acquisition of land, the identification and removal of contaminated sites, the demolition of buildings as well as investment in public spaces, the living environment and the re-use of empty buildings demonstrate the first visible results of the programme. Urban development competitions are important tools for quality assurance in urban restructuring measures.

Mobilising property owners

The evaluation shows that local authorities are increasingly able to attract property owners for financial participation in urban restructuring measures. Timely involvement in and transparency of the planning process as well as extensive consultations and additional financial incentives through local funding programmes are key success factors.

Important and active partners are primarily municipal housing companies and housing cooperatives. To a lesser extent, this is true of small-scale property owners, whose willingness to participate falls short of the requirements. To counter this, the municipalities are developing and testing different mobilisation strategies. The formation of associations of house owners and the model of "urban restructuring consultants" have proven to be increasingly important activation instruments.

"Urban Restructuring in the Old Federal States" as an investment engine

To date, the urban development funding programme has triggered large, private and public investments in cities and municipalities. The programme also boasts incentives for private sector investments in particular.

"Urban Restructuring in the Old Federal States" with public impact

Urban restructuring activities are accompanied by intensive public relations work and various forms of citizen participation and involvement. They have mobilised people and produced a spirit of optimism in many municipalities involved in the programme or programme areas. In many cities and municipalities, public relations work is a strategic tool in urban restructuring. Urban restructuring measures are made known to the public through image campaigns and thus increase the public's identification with the goals and projects of urban restructuring.

Urban restructuring takes time

The evaluation also clearly indicates that an integrated approach to concept development and implementation takes time, above all because it requires sound inventory analyses, involves many partners and must provide for comprehensive decision-making processes. The total time spent on strategy development, on the concept and planning phase, is higher often delaying the implementation process in municipalities. In view of the many participatory and mobilising partners, this also proved to be more timedemanding.

The urban development funding programme "Urban Restructuring in the Old Federal States" - to date goal-orientated

The "Urban Restructuring in the Old Federal States" programme plays a crucial role in ensuring that cities and municipalities face the basic requirements for the adaptation and restructuring of urban development framework conditions resulting from structural economic and demographic change.

The current and already implemented urban restructuring stimulus projects and individual measures already had a variety of positive effects on the development of cities and municipalities and show the programme‘s high level of accuracy and effectiveness.

The evaluation demonstrates that the urban development funding programme with its high instrumental flexibility is especially suited to the differentiated challenges of structural economic and demographic change in West German cities and municipalities and has so far been so successful because of its broad range of interchangeable urban restructuring measures that are eligible for funding.

However, new challenges such as climate protection and managing the effects of climate change as well as decentralised energy production create a new need for action and must increasingly be taken into account when designing the new programme structure today - but above all in the future. Based on the established results and effects, the expert team has made recommendations for the further development of the programme.

Recommendations on the "Urban Restructuring in the Old Federal States" programme

Recommendations to the Federal Government and the Länder:

(1) In the course of a national urban development policy, the federal government and Länder shall continue to share governmental responsibility for the development of cities and municipalities. For this purpose, the urban development funding programme "Urban Restructuring in the Old Federal States" with its complex targeted structure and in cooperation with cities and municipalities is particularly suitable. It represents an important steering programme for urban development and has proven itself in this position because of its broad scope and high flexibility. It also provides an important stimulus for private investments.

(2) Being a tried-and-tested strategy, the "Urban Restructuring in the Old Federal States" programme shall be continued at least until 2019. For programme districts, that are included in the final years of the duration of the programme, an appropriate completion funding or follow-up financing is furthermore to be guaranteed.

(3) In the future, it must be possible to pool urban development, infrastructural and construction measures in urban restructuring that are in accordance with the specific problems dealt with in urban development concepts. The necessary processes, procedures and tools shall also be secured and advanced, if necessary.

(4) Due to the structural differences that still exist and the largely different problems faced by East and West German cities and municipalities, an amalgamation of the "Urban Restructuring in the Old Federal States" and "Urban Restructuring in the New Federal States" programmes is currently not recommended.

(5) Continuity in providing Federal financial assistance shall be secured. Consistency in funding annual programmes at the level of 2009 is indispensable. Because of the increasing number of affected municipalities and neighbourhoods as well as extended tasks such as climate protection and management of the effects of climate change, an appropriate increase is necessary. Opportunities for programme overlap and pooling of funds shall be maintained and expanded.

(6) The scope of action of municipalities on provisional budget/municipalities subject to budgetary supervision must increasingly be taken into account when the programme is formulated, otherwise needy municipalities will not be able to benefit from any programme funds.

Recommendations to cities and municipalities:

(7) The development and updating of urban development concepts as the core instrument based on monitoring and evaluation shall be further qualified. Monitoring and evaluation shall be implemented and intensified at all levels with a sense of proportion.

(8) Participatory approaches to business and civil society shall also be used to strengthen "Urban Restructuring in the Old Federal States".

(9) Promoting infrastructural decision-making and adjustments is still necessary. To achieve this, interdepartmental support must be strengthened.

(10) Urban development legal instruments have proved successful in principle; however, they should be supplemented in some facets.

Further recommendations:

(11) Intermunicipal cooperation and regional cooperation are gaining in importance and should be strengthened.

(12) The effectiveness of the programme should be secured and strengthened by appropriate accompanying fiscal instruments.

(13) Housing assistance of the Länder, including Federal compensation funds, should be increased and used for qualitatively restructuring the housing stock in areas involved in urban restructuring.

(14) The Federal Transfer Office "Urban Restructuring in the Old Federal States" shall secure the exchange of experiences and promote the transfer of knowledge on urban restructuring.

This publication is only available in German: "Stadtumbau West: Evaluierung des Bund-Länder-Programms", Ed.: BMVBS, Berlin 2012