The revised European Urban Charter - CPL (11) 7 Part II

Carlos Alberto PINTO, Portugal,
Chamber of Local Authorities
Political Group: EPP/CD




1. The European Urban Charter was adopted by the Council of Europe’s Congress of Local and Regional Authorities in 1992.

The Charter:-

- built upon the work of the Council of Europe on urban policies – the European Campaign for Urban Renaissance (1980 - 82) and followed by an intense work programme which covered various aspects of urban development; healthy towns; regeneration of industrial towns; urban insecurity, crime prevention and drug abuse; protection of architectural and historic heritage; self-help and community development; housing, transport and mobility; culture, financial mechanisms, economic development, natural resources, the urban physical environment, urban planning, the location of facilities and amenities

- reflected the human rights vocation of the Council of Europe, constituting a series of guidelines to human rights in the built and social urban environment.

- honoured the practice in many member countries whereby decisions affecting urban communities are made principally by local civic leaders.

- underscored local self-government, citizens' participation, the democratic process in planning matters as enshrined in the European Charter of Local Self-Government of the Council of Europe.

- emphasised that the town has always been considered the ideal place in which to gather, somewhere where community and social life is possible, without which, in the words of Thomas Hobbes, life is "nasty, poor, solitary, brutish and short"; the recognition of a town as a community of people, politically organised for the achievement of common aims.

- recognised that there are many examples of towns which function well and which provide their inhabitants with a satisfactory quality and way of life; where there is a balance between economic development, a wise use of potential resources, retention of a high quality environment, a high level of public participation, neighbourhood and community development, a sense of belonging and pride.

- rejected the alternative of a neglected, rundown state of inner cities, of poor quality and alien surroundings, of different forms of pollution, of the emergence of discriminatory attitudes, of the deterioration of infrastructure, of unsafe and insecure neighbourhoods, of social and health problems, of deterioration of historic centres, of excessive traffic densities.


By drawing the European public's attention to these matters, in particular through information and awareness-raising efforts targeting local and regional authorities, the Council of Europe and the Congress showed the way forward on local government; that the municipality was the foundation stone for building a united Europe, the level of government closest to the citizen and with which the citizen can most easily identify; that urban planning required an enlightened local political will to improve the social and built environment.

Drawing together into a single composite text a series of principles on good urban management at a local level, the purpose of the Charter is to:

- provide practical urban management advice for local authorities and citizens alike;

- identify the principal elements for a future Council of Europe Recommendation on towns in Europe;

- announce the Council of Europe’s views on matters relating to the built environment.


At its adoption in 1992, the Charter was prefaced by a European Declaration of Urban Rights, which underscored the commitment of the Congress to participatory democracy.

This Declaration, as with the Charter itself, will be brought up-to-date and issued separately in a revised form towards the end of 2004.

10 years later, the Bureau of the Congress decided to revise the Charter.

The Congress attaches considerable importance to this updating, considering that the reinforcement of the quality of urban life remains a key to civic stability; and that arresting urban decline and improving the social and built urban environment can be factors in reducing violence and conflict in society.

The updating of the Urban Charter made it possible to ascertain its scope, its current significance, its limits and relevance. The updating recognised that towns are complex entities. They differ considerably in terms of urban development, size, environment and landscape. Their identity, although rooted in history, is constantly changing. They must also keep pace with the evolution of society, remain open to a variety of situations, ensuring balanced satisfaction of all kinds of environmental and cultural needs and be capable of responding to changing lifestyles, and generally higher standards of living.

Ten years on, furthermore the Charter had now to contend with a political, institutional, social and economic situation in Europe which differed considerably from that which prevailed when it was first drafted.

The Congress therefore organised a review conference of the Charter held in Sofia in 2002, in order to identify influences on current urban society which may not have been adequately reflected in the original Charter. Some proposals which emerged were:

- European enlargement, opening up to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe;

- competition, free movement, a single European currency;

- globalisation, demographic change and migratory flows;

- increased public awareness and desire to participate in the decision-making process;

- the increase of recognition of the importance of the city at world level by the United Nations.

- the impact of increasing co-operation and networking of major cities in Europe;

- employment policies, particularly the strengthening of vocational and training programmes to give a closer coincidence and match between employment opportunities and people’s skills;

- the need to deal more effectively with social exclusion and to tackle the inequalities in society;

- the need to reinforce the notion of responsibilities and duties, alongside urban rights;

- the need to reconcile decentralisation and local democracy in urban areas with coherent and effective over-all management;

- stronger support for local authorities in ensuring that their responsibilities, as defined by the constitution and legislation should be matched by corresponding financial resources;

- the impact of new information technology and direct methods of citizen participation as part of policies for good, transparent governance and accountability;

- democratic control of the different methods used in the provision by local authorities of public utilities, of gas, electricity, water;

- reinforcement of the notion of sustainable development and a stronger desire among citizens for a better quality of environment;

- new approaches to urban security, dealing with different forms of violence;

Such considerations have found their way into the new Charter.


The new Charter paves the way for the city of the future.

a. Sustainability

In 1987, the Brundtland Commission defined sustainability as: “Development which meets present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to achieve their own needs and aspirations”. In the intervening years, nothing has happened that significantly changes that definition.

Various strategies have been announced by various nations but all are well behind in actually implementing the Brundtland recommendations. Still needed is a global agreement that environmental improvement, social justice, and economic development, must be in balance.

During the past decade, new approaches to urban planning have emerged, with sustainability as the key issue. This is especially relevant to the conservation of land, mobility, waste disposal and the environmental impacts of development, on people, nature and our heritage. A sustainable urban area must be based on good connections: the relationship of the urban and rural hinterland; between land use and transport; and between the built and natural environments.

Urban planning must consider the interaction between human activities and land uses, including those factors producing pollution and stress. This approach must be focussed on sustainable policies supporting clear environmental, social and economic objectives.

Whether there will ever be idealised conditions in cities as “centres of civilisation” is debatable; for cities reflect both the best and worst of human aspirations - as the ‘Gaia Atlas of Planet Management’ states the sheer pressure of people living together always creates problems: “… poverty as well as wealth, crime as well as justice, disease as well as medicine”

b. The Urban Village

Europe’s cities and towns are drawing closer and closer together due to high-speed rail, low cost air travel, and major trans-European road improvements. A map of Europe drawn by actual travel time rather than by geographical distance shows how dramatic this change is. As a result, local authorities can no longer think sensibly of towns and cities as self-contained units. Towns and cities will increasingly need to locate their place in what is becoming a virtual urban village.

c. Distinctiveness

If access to urban areas is becoming easier then each town or city will need to show why it has things to offer that are not available an hour down the road. Successful towns must identify their distinctive roles and play to their special strengths - be this tourism, finance, culture, government. They will need to promote their distinctive built heritage and character.

d. A response to and reconciliation of different needs

An ideal city, one which is sustainable, liveable, agreeable, healthy, must succeed in reconciling various sectors and activities; which safeguards civic rights; which ensures the best possible living conditions; which reflects and is responsive to the lifestyles and attitudes of its inhabitants; where full account is taken of all those who use it, who work or trade there, who visit it, who seek entertainment, culture, information, and knowledge, who study there.

It is the arena for both urban rights and duties, for a balance between economic and ecological concerns, for reconciliation of the individual and the community, the elimination of public-private conflict, the celebration of differences and diversity.

e. Balancing the past with the future

A city must strike a balance between modern development and retention of the historic heritage; integrate the new without destroying the old. A town without its past, is like a man without his memory. People leave traces of their lives and their work and their personal history in cities, in the form of neighbourhoods, buildings, trees, churches, libraries. They constitute the collective legacy of the past, enabling people to feel a sense of continuity in their contemporary lives.

f. Solidarity

Important throughout the new Charter is the notion of solidarity:

- between local authorities, in order to secure an improved quality of urban life and a sustainable urban development, recognising the additional benefits, responsibilities and opportunities arising as a result of the involvement of Central and Eastern European countries;

- between national and local governments in securing and strengthening, through political and financial commitment, the devolution of decision-making away from the centre towards towns and their communities;

- between local governments and their communities, to examine and gain a closer understanding of the different needs of an urban area and involve local people in the decision-making process;

g. Responsibilities

The new Charter emphasises that not only do leaders of urban communities have responsibilities to provide a number of key characteristics of town, but equally that citizens have a corresponding responsibility to protect and enhance the collective appeal of a town, that they have an individual contribution to make to the quality to urban life.

A town must be free as possible from aggression, pollution, a difficult and disturbing urban environment, but this is a joint responsibility of all members of the community, leaders and citizens alike.

A similar equation and duality concerns democratic control of a local community; decent housing, health, cultural opportunity and mobility; green space and vegetation; sport and leisure facilities; a harmonious balance between all street users; provision of community facilities; measures against poverty; particular help for the disadvantaged; limited use of natural resources; the reduction of the emission of greenhouse gases.

The new Charter insists that such responsibilities and rights are applicable to all urban dwellers irrespective of age, origin, race, belief, socio-economic or political position, physical or psychological disability.

h. The mutual dependence of the town and its surroundings.

The boundaries of the town are never the limits of urban society. The town needs its surrounding region for functions which are often considerable consumers of land, outlying, settlements, space for open air recreation.

Conversely, the region needs the city for its services, for health, culture, commercial, jobs and wealth generation.

An overall comprehensive management of the town and the suburbs is essential to avoid costly and uneven urban services; transport imbalances; over-consumption of environmental resources of the region; poorly controlled waste disposal and pollution.

i. Political will and professional skills – the defining elements of urban policy.

A wide range of factors affect urban life and need to be taken into account in a comprehensive manner. Any action taken in towns requires considerable analysis, study, knowledge and responsibility.

Rational urban policy combines determined political will with urban planning, proposed by teams of skilled professionals.

Urban policy affects the community as a whole and individuals in many aspects of their private as well as working lives. It is a major public act of intervention; should reflect constant monitoring and regular consultation, between elected representatives, planners, architects, landscape, urban designers and the public.

j. Co-operation between towns.

Towns have a fundamental role in regional, national, European and world-wide development, it is essential for them to be involved in networks of co-operation and exchange at regional, national and international levels, through twinning, contracts, membership of international associations and non-governmental organisations.


The Charter is divided into five main CHAPTERS:- Ecology, Economy, Equity, Form and Governance. For each Chapter, there is an explanatory introduction.

Each Chapter is subsequently divided into a number of THEMES, also with an explanation.

Within each Theme, a numbers of PRINCIPLES are identified, intended to be policy options


Local authorities have a key responsibility for guiding and controlling development, and protecting the environment and fabric of urban areas and their rural hinterlands.

This role is a creative one, ensuring that land is properly utilised, architectural heritage development is of a high quality and the citizens are fully involved.

Both the Council of Europe and the European Union have set out common objectives for the advancement of Europe in terms of sustainability, competitiveness and social strategies.

Firstly, towns need to collaborate with each other to avoid mutually damaging competition and to promote a “polycentric” system, in which each town or city is able to carry out a role that is distinctive to it and is suited to its size and position. Small and medium sized towns should not be swamped by the excessive dominance of the great metropolitan areas.

Secondly, there should be greater collaboration within individual cities. Often different agencies and sectors, such as health, education, transport, environment, economic development and land use, pursue independent policies. For example, hospitals relocate from central sites into modern premises on the periphery of the city. This is likely to prejudice the economic strength of the centre, generate increased car traffic and disadvantage these agencies to co-ordinate their plans and services towards a common set of objectives.

This in turn, points to a third dimension of urban collaboration.

The Charter rightly positions local authorities at the centre of urban policy. They are the elected leaders of their communities. However, they must exercise that leadership by collaborating with other key partners

Finally, perhaps most importantly, the governance of local communities must involve its citizens.


The European Charter of Local Self-government outlines the principles of local autonomy and local finance. This is increasingly used as the basis for local authorities in defining their approaches to local democracy, citizen participation, and subsidiarity.

Local authorities should ensure all groups participate in local political life. All community groups should be given equal rights to contribute actively to consultation procedures and public life. All citizens should in turn exercise their rights in a responsible way. Local authorities should therefore strive for improved collaborative planning, communications, and participatory processes.

Towns should be encouraged to put into operation the principles of the European Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level which recognises the right of foreigners, having legally resided in the country for a specific period of years, to vote and stand for municipal election.


1. Citizen participation in local political life must be safeguarded through the right to elect representatives, freely, responsibly, and democratically.

Local authority Councils are democratically elected and are at the heart of and direct accountable to their communities. Better engagement between local councils and the citizens they serve, will ensure the effectiveness of sustainable solutions to local challenges, and reinvigorate local political life. The exercise by citizens of their rights and responsibilities to participate in local democracy is safeguarded, primarily, through delegation of decision-making powers to elected councillors, who subsequently have the authority to exercise them and to implement policies, programmes and projects for the well-being of citizens living in the municipality.

Local freedoms and flexibilities are the key to local government improvement, and delivery of high quality public services. This is achieved by creating the conditions in which political parties may emerge and flourish, by guaranteeing the rights of all residents to participate in the election of local political councillors, without discrimination on grounds of origin, social position or wealth. To be effective these rights must be exercised and in a responsible manner.

2. Citizen participation in local political life must be effective at all levels of the local political and administrative structure.

At the time of their election, local representatives are not necessarily given a mandate covering all local affairs throughout their term of office, and should therefore consult on particular issues. In some circumstances the use of referenda might be advisable for a particularly controversial new problem or policy.

There is also a tendency for local government staff, with their long-term appointments and job security, to acquire a degree of autonomy in their relations with the elected politicians; the electorate must be involved in overseeing the machinery of administration and the way it works. This is achieved by recognising local interest groups and ensuring citizen participation in local political life. This could include provision for citizens to be represented on committees directly responsible to the executive, and in the operation of the administrative machinery (committee control, complaints tribunal, and ombudsman).

3. Citizens must be consulted over all major projects affecting the future of the community.

Citizens are the basis of local democracy and must be informed about all major plans conceived by their elected representatives and officials. This can be achieved through developing formal public consultation procedures to bridge the gap between local government and the general public. The outcome of consultation should be available for public inspection.

Local authorities must do this by providing guarantees of the impartiality in the process of consultation; by allowing free access to all public documents; by publicising all projects on site; through publishing an official local interest news sheet; through allowing, recognising and enhancing the role of voluntary organisations. It is important to involve all public and private groups as early as possible in the process so that they can make input and feel committed. Wide participation may well cause delays, but it works because the policies that result are generally acceptable and understandable. Methods of communication should be chosen carefully. Where minority languages and cultural differences are prevalent, these must be catered for.

Children are the future citizens of our towns, and therefore need to be aware of the issues of urban governance in their early years. Their interest and knowledge of future citizenship is a vital issue.


Local authorities shall be entitled within national economic policy, to adequate financial resources of their own, of which they may dispose freely within the framework of their powers. There are great differences in the economic circumstances between authorities, as regards for example tax bases and structural conditions. Therefore a governing principle is to have an equalisation system to ensure that all municipalities are able to operate on equivalent economic terms.

Municipalities are responsible for activities that have an important bearing on the quality of life of citizens, for example the creation of adequate living conditions for a town’s population.


1. Local authorities must have financial resources corresponding to their responsibilities.

Responsibilities defined by the constitution and legislation should be matched by corresponding financial resources.

Part at least of the financial resources of local authorities shall derive from local taxes and charges of which, within the limits of statue, they have the power to determine the rate of charge

The financial systems on which resources available to local authorities are based, shall be of a sufficiently diversified and buoyant nature as to enable them to keep pace, as far as practically possible, with the real growth of cost of carrying out their tasks.

Other sources of revenue other than taxes, are fees and charges paid by users of local authority services; also rents from local authority property. In order to increase their income municipalities can also profitably sell real estate property.

Local priorities should determine how local authorities raise and spend revenue. Councils need discretion to decide how they direct resources, rather than trying to meet local needs with centrally set spending levels.

2. There should be an equalisation system.

The protection of financially weaker local authorities calls for the introduction of financial equalisation measures which, depending on the circumstances and the degree of financial autonomy of the authorities, may involve vertical equalisation (from central government), an/or horizontal equalisation (among local authorities). The system must be designed so as to be stable and tenable in the long term, as regards both equalisation effects and funding

3. Strategic planning and skilled governance improves the long-term economy.

A successful long-term economy could be attained by collaboration between partners in matters of urban planning and development. Models for partnership and shared economical investments are necessary for realisation of projects and future stability of town development.

Geographical Information Systems (GIS) could improve the decision making process by having available more information that can be cross-referenced. Social, economic and environmental data can be combined to give the wider context in greater detail more quickly.


The management of a town must be conducted in a manner that ensures that everyone, whose rights and property are affected to a significant degree by proposed administrative acts and decisions, are informed of them. They must have their views heard and thus play an active part in the decision-making process.

A system must be in place that ensures that no single action at any one level of management is taken, if the consequences of that decision extend beyond those people and that level for which it is intended. If the consequences to extend more widely then it has to be taken to the managerial level immediately above. In this way, the necessary decisions can be taken within a more comprehensive context.

This system must replace the vertical system of urban management, which still occurs and which creates a series of isolated public management sectors and a non-transparent bureaucracy.

Current urban management is often viewed by citizens as incomprehensible, time-consuming and uneconomic. However, this is changing towards more customer friendly systems.


1. Urban management and planning must be based upon accurate and up-to-date information on the characteristics and special features of a town.

Deciding priorities and making proposals are not matters for a single profession, any single department, and certainly not left to chance. Such decisions must be based upon an initial and regularly up-dated analysis, covering the city's special features, potential, activities, development capacities and resources. Urban development patterns and urban policies can be worked out more reliably, and inspire greater confidence, if the area they cover has been thoroughly explored, and its capacity for change defined.

Such analysis will include a survey of demographic and environmental capacities, and geographical and topographical features, and of citizens’ aspirations. This will help to determine a balance between, on the one hand individual freedom and projects benefiting the community, health and safety, raising of cultural and artistic standards and, on the other hand, promoting growth and development.

2. Local political decisions should be based on regional and urban planning conducted by teams of professionals.

Local political decisions must be based on comprehensive and up-to-date information, and a variety of reasoned choices proposed by teams of regional and urban planning professionals.

Urban planning requires assessment by professionals and analysts of projects, programmes, strategies or plans shaping the physical, social, economic and environmental structures within a town. This should be based on balances, e.g. between growth and conservation, the achievement of sustainable development, and the resolution of conflict.

Such planning should be followed by a process of evaluation, i.e. assessing the worth of what is proposed by monitoring, reviewing and analysing, after the event, whether predictions and decisions were justified. Such evaluation thus concerns feasibility, political acceptability, and conformity with higher levels of policy.

3. Every town should have a comprehensive plan with a vision and action plan for the future.

A comprehensive plan maps out the vision and priorities for the town and should be prepared in consultation with local citizens and with key organisations, such as local chambers of commerce, major businesses, different public bodies and voluntary organisations.

The process of conceiving a vision is cyclical. It starts with problem analysis, then conception, and then a plan of action. Implementation and monitoring are the final stages.

An analysis is needed to identify the good features of the current situation, which should be maintained in the transition process, and what definitely should be changed. What are the chances and the challenges of the future? This could be done by a risk analysis of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT), which is tried and tested in the business world.

Formulating a plan of action concerns different levels. There is the level of strategic planning and a level of operational planning. A strategic plan can be formulated for a period of for example 5-20 years. Operational planning covers a shorter period of time e.g. one to three years. Phasing of a strategic plan into operational stages provides the opportunity to “learn by doing” and improving operations from year to year. Budgets should be allocated annually, within the longer-term financial strategy scheme.


The increasing use of the Internet has in a very short time given many people access to a vast range of services, information, and decision-making, what might be called e- democracy. In recent years interactive services have become used by a large number of people, for example bank transactions. This development gives Local Authorities completely new possibilities to provide citizens with a better service through a widen e-democracy. The aim should be to create a better dialog and a strengthened communication between politicians, staff members and citizens through electronic meeting points. The aim should also be to increase the service to citizens and make it more efficient.

In order to achieve e-service and e-democracy towns should develop an e-strategy. Such an e-strategy must see that access is available to all, no matter what their level of expertise or income. Also that the information made available is easily understood and might even be provided in different languages. The overall aim should be to guarantee an accurate answer to all enquiries.


1. Citizens should have access to a town web-site.

With a well-designed web site, citizens could easily obtain useful information whenever it is needed. A “knowledge bank” with facts about services and town activities etc should be built up. Such information is easy to update in comparison to printed information. One of the critical weaknesses of the system is that there will be many poor people without electronic access. There will be others without the fundamental training and skills, to operate the system.

2. Citizens should have access to e-service with interactive communication.

With an interactive communication, system citizens could access and have a dialog with politicians and staff members at electronic meeting points. Citizens could for example give their view on different matters such as urban development plans, building activities or traffic changes. They could set up “chat rooms” to discuss issues with other people. Frequently asked questions could be placed on the Internet and an interactive service provided with questions and answers. With e-service, citizens could make applications, announcements, and complain about different issues. This service should be available on the Internet 24 hours a day: this would increase the standard of service and accessibility.

In order to handle electronic services and all information and opinions given an accessible and efficient e-administration must be created. A poor service could be disastrous.


Local authorities are primarily responsible for providing and administering community services; guiding and controlling development; protecting the environment and fabric of urban areas and their rural hinterlands. This role is a creative one, ensuring that land is properly utilised, architectural heritage is safeguarded, development is of a high quality and the citizens are fully involved and their aspirations met.

Common objectives for the advancement of Europe in terms of sustainability, competitiveness, and social and economic cohesion, will be achieved by collaborative strategies between local authorities.


1. Towns need to collaborate with each other.

Cities need to collaborate with each other to avoid mutually damaging competition and to promote a “polycentric” system, in which each town or city is able to carry out a role that is distinctive to it and is suited to its size and position. Small and medium sized towns should not be swamped by the excessive dominance of large cities and the great metropolitan areas.

2. There should be greater collaboration within individual towns.

Often different agencies and sectors, such as health, education, transport, environment, economic development, and land use, pursue independent policies. For example, hospitals relocate from central sites into modern premises on the periphery of the city. This is likely to prejudice the economic strength of the centre, generate increased car traffic and disadvantage those dependent on public transport. The concept of “spatial planning” encourages these agencies to co-ordinate their plans and services towards a common set of objectives.

Towns should identify and operate crosscutting themes. The aim of this is to strengthen the “whole town” profile and would help groups isolated inside communities. A crosscutting team could help with social inclusion, settlement, accommodation and services, business enterprise development, etc.

3. Regional authorities must collaborate with other key stakeholders.

The Charter rightly positions the local and regional authorities at the centre of urban policy. Increasingly, however, we appreciate that local authorities must exercise that leadership by collaborating with other key stakeholders. Only in these partnerships, can there be collective ownership of common goals. For example, some cities are experiencing a growth in the cost of housing so great that substantial parts of the community either are denied access to housing, or are condemned to ghettoes of sub-standard housing. In consequence, some services are threatened by the loss of key workers, priced out of their city. At the same time, social polarisation into the very rich and the very poor moves on apace. This problem can only be resolved by a partnership of local government, housing agencies, the private housing market and employers agreeing city planning, housing, economic development and financing policies.



The world’s resources are heavily affected by urbanisation. At the end of the last millennium, the world’s population had reached six billion, meaning that it had doubled in 40 years. It may grow to nine billion or more by 2050, with the highest in the least developed countries. Urban areas tend to grow faster than rural areas, because of their economic and socio-cultural opportunities. Over 45% of the world’s population and 70% of the population of Europe already live in urban settlements.

Towns are great consumers of natural resources to supply them with food, water, materials and energy. Many are now dependent on imports of resources and products from hinterlands and overseas. If resources are consumed too rapidly, nature is not able to restore itself and will loose its resilience. Over-exploitation of natural resources is a serious risk. If everybody should adopt a lifestyle as is common in western urban Europe this would require two planet earths for the production of food, timber, minerals and energy.

Nowadays, cities in low-income countries use about a fifth of the volume of fossil fuels used in Europe, and comparatively little food and raw materials. This raises the issues both of equity and the long-term sustainability of towns. The current systems of trade, monetary flows, production and consumption allow only a limited number of towns to increase their wealth. In the future, towns in non-industrialised countries will demand a similar share of global resources. Unless resource consumption by the developed world can be reduced, the growing demand may lead to more global tension.

Global warming is a reality. Flooding, water table change, retreat of glaciers, water shortage, heat waves are now with us. The effects on the economy, health, tourism, transport are self-evident. The volume of greenhouse gases emitted by European towns per capita is among the highest in the world. The same towns and urban regions offer possibilities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy saving and reduction of wastes.

In additions, this is the background, against which European towns must respond with their own responsibilities for sustainability and reduction of greenhouse gases.


1. A firm commitment to sustainable policies must be introduced and maintained.

The approach to planning cities must be focused on sustainable policies which support clear, interlinked environmental, social and economic objectives.

This means compact settlements to allow lower energy consumption; local amenities and employment to reduce the need for travel; convenient, co-ordinated, and comfortable public transport; improving quality of urban life to reduce development pressure on rural areas; protecting the natural environment and creating more green space; designing buildings and infrastructure to minimise consumption of resources; minimising pollution and waste; and maximising recycling.

This also implies provision of information to the public, about sustainable policies.

Local governments should encourage public awareness of individual measures which can be taken and stimulate the business sector to act in a socially and environmentally responsible way. Local government should adopt a greenhouse gas policy for their vehicle fleet, buildings and office purchasing activity.

2. Public authorities have a responsibility to husband and manage natural and energy resources in a coherent and rational manner.

The principle of sustainable development requires that local and regional authorities accept fully their responsibilities in limiting their use of non-renewable resources and increase the use of secondary products from recycled waste and from renewable sources

Where possible, they should obtain their resources from within the town as a complete ecosystem, with technical improvements and innovative measures, e.g. garden allotments, compost sites, small-scale domestic heat and power plants, use of solar and wind energy. Small scale co-generation plants, diversion of residual heat for house-heating.

3. Local authorities should adopt firm policies to prevent pollution.

Towns suffer heavily from pollution, derived from industry, traffic and private households, domestic heating. Short-term measures such as discharging solid and water wastes into rivers and lakes, burning of waste, should be replaced by reduction of emissions at source, application of clean technology, introducing renewable energy sources, appropriate traffic management systems, use of alternative fuels, the reuse of waste.

Industries should be required by local authorities to avoid certain materials, re-use packaging and develop alternative energy resources. The local construction industry should be encouraged, via building codes, to use materials conducive to health and generally the application of sustainable development principles in all new buildings.

The role of information for the public is crucial. This implies provision of information about clean technology to local firms; a network of information and advisory centres and pioneering new approaches. Equally, consumers can be informed on emission reduction, the use of appropriate materials and the avoidance of certain packages and cleaning substances.

4. Cities should adopt policies for compact, mixed use land development.

In the past, zoning and separation of the main urban functions of housing, industries and transport was often seen as the ideal solution. However, such separation of activities into single land use zones leads to larger volumes of transport and greater use of land. More transport implies more pollution; and more extensive built-up areas of land reduces land available for agriculture, water catchments, forestry and adversely, damages natural habitats.

Local authorities should formulate land use plans for compact and denser urban development and a mix of functions. Large disused areas, often former industrial land, may provide the possibility of regeneration, once removal of ground and water contamination has taken place. This ‘brownfield’ development makes use of previously developed land rather than open “green” fields. This also implies pollution prevention; a better control of noise and air pollutants from businesses, homes and transport.


Too many towns are agglomerations of stone, concrete, steel, glass and asphalt, often with monotonous stretches of grass or wasteland, of little use for recreation and leisure. The atmosphere and the land have been polluted with noxious elements and emissions from industry, energy plants, traffic and private households. Wildlife has been driven out of parts of towns and residential locations.

However, towns must have green open spaces. Green space and water have a key function in urban climate management; they allow ventilation, absorb dust particles from air, and balance humidity and urban temperatures. Towns must also have areas with natural vegetation and diversified wild life.

Nature conservation areas and the use of vegetation and water give each town its character, furnish it with interesting features, support wildlife and have a decisive and recognisable influence on the overall townscape.

The presence of green spaces enables people to escape from the built environment and experience nature. Flora and fauna are part of the self-development of individuals and enable children born in an urban environment to come into contact with nature.

Nature and towns are not mutually exclusive concepts.


1. Local authorities have a responsibility to protect nature and green spaces.

Local authorities should husband their natural heritage. They have a responsibility to maximise environmental quality, manage the urban climate, protect natural systems and encourage biodiversity, by stimulating clean and healthy local regional food production, transport and consumption.

Green areas, nature conservation and landscape programmes are fundamental elements in urban areas, contributing to air quality and a decent urban climate. Clean and unpolluted rivers, wild plants, biological gardening, choice of appropriate species, the re-use of particular sites, e.g. wasteland, overgrown cemeteries, riverbanks, railway sidings, etc, can accommodate a wide spectrum of flora and fauna, supporting their own systems and enriching local biodiversity. Protection of green "corridors" and cultivation of domestic gardens are also important for local wildlife.

Towns must be attractive, with human scale buildings and spaces, trees and greenery, and combined with control of car access. Once created green areas must be, protected and managed. Greening must not be a cosmetic after-thought; it is a long term activity that will eventually boost reputation by providing wide-ranging amenities. This offers long term social, economic and environmental benefits.

Priority areas for nature protection should be established via an analysis of local conditions (biotope mapping) and regular monitoring. The use of vegetation in open spaces should be encouraged and should reflect local, historic and natural characteristics.

2. Nature conservation can develop community involvement and pride.

Vegetation can be used as a means for stimulating community and individual pride in one's locality and an identification with it. This can be done through the development of urban woodland and forest, parks, amenity allotments, roof, balcony and winter gardens, adventure playgrounds, recovery of semi-public areas for biotopes around tenement blocks, green trails, nature and school gardens and field study centres. Greening roofs, walls, courtyards, etc, can create a variety of habitats for different plants and animals- essential if a responsible relationship with nature and natural resources is to be created.

City farms and study gardens for children play a valuable role in the establishment of direct contact with nature.


The consumption of raw materials, water and energy, and production of waste by urban areas necessitates efficient management. Public services in the water and waste management sectors as well as in energy production are essential for a healthy, sustainable and prosperous city. Examples are the efficient and effective provision of piped, treated water supplies from renewable sources, the collection and disposal of domestic waste or cleaning of waste water for re-use. Waste process heat from industry or thermal power stations can provide indoor heating for homes and commercial buildings. Urban concentration can provide efficient co-generation of electricity and heat in residential areas.


1. Citizens should have access to a supply of safe drinking water and water for domestic and recreational purposes.

Towns should provide their citizens with water from sustainable sources. Sustainable water management for livable, healthy cities depends: the efficient use of drinking water; the prevention of pollution and repair of natural water systems, the adjustment of the form of the built environment to the demands of water flows, for instance by limiting the amount of non-penetrable hard covered surface.

An overall water management plan, positioning the cities’ water needs within the context of regional water shed management is required. An important part of the local water plan is the layout of service pipes and sewage systems together with storm water facilities, ponds and retention basins.,

2. Affordable energy for heating, cooling and other domestic purposes should be provided for all citizens.

A strategy for sustainable energy management can include: use of renewable energy sources (hydropower, wind, earth warmth, biogas and the sun); reduced use of fossil fuels; compact city planning and building; efficient energy distribution.

National and local authorities’ building codes must contain requirements for energy performance of all buildings. In architectural design good climatic practice, including orientation towards or away from the sun should be required. When buildings are compact and as sheltered as possible, temperatures will be balanced thus reducing energy use.

3. Local authorities must devise effective and sustainable waste management.

Wherever people build, live and work, waste products are generated. Much of this waste is damaging to the environment and public health. When not separated, as a result of inefficient infrastructure, it cannot be reused and must be dumped or incinerated.

Local authorities should also stimulate the use of recyclable products, organise efficient disposal, collection and recycling systems and provide public amenities for separated storage and recycling of waste. Towns could also handle waste streams and use solid wastes for the production of new materials, compost or energy.

Towns should also develop an information and education, system to promote awareness concerning the sustainable purchase of goods and a better understanding of related waste issues.



Urban centres and their networks play a significant role both in the local and in the global economy as they are the main poles of production, distribution, exchange and consumption. A sound economic development of a town is essential for the standard of life of all its users: residents, workers, visitors from outside and tourists from abroad.

Any action towards economic development should always be related to social well-being, environmental enhancement and other measures, aimed at the improvement of quality of life in urban areas.


1. Towns should strive to remain motors of economic development.

Within the global system of production European towns have lost most of their manufacturing industries to areas of the world offering cheaper labour costs. European towns therefore transformed most of their productive industries into service and trade activities in the tertiary sector; these have become the main vector of economic development.

Local authorities should strive to achieve economic development and job creation while considering their towns as main economic poles of services, trade, investment and consumption. Economic development should take into account the specific qualities and potentials of a town within its regional context, focusing on tailor-made integrated programmes; these should both strengthen advantages to realise opportunities and reduce disadvantages to counteract weaknesses.

2. Global competitiveness and local specialisation are important elements of economic development.

As economies expand on a world scale, and products and services are distributed to the global market, towns should try to become competitive by enhancing their special qualities and local products and services. Therefore local authorities should try to develop and enhance local differences, specificities and qualities. These elements represent the key for achieving successful economic development and local employment.

Towns should strive for a pleasant environment of a high quality since this will help to retain existing economic activities and generate new ones. Nevertheless while building competitive advantages towns should take care that the business they attract do not diminish the urban quality of life and do not damage the environment.

3. Economic development depend upon adequate infrastructure.

All growth requires appropriate supportive infrastructure such as telecommunications, transportation, utility services, social and communal facilities. This has been traditionally a major function of public authorities, providing much of the infrastructure without which the urban area cannot survive.

A major responsibility of public authorities is to identify any deficiencies in the existing infrastructure and any possible new links with other infrastructure so as to exploit them and gain the maximum benefit. Local authorities should include this in all plans for socio-economic development, with its associated policies, proposals, strategies and programmes.


Towns do not stand alone but they are part of wider city-networks facing common issues and challenges, thus local governments have the task to involve all relevant parties in making good use of opportunities and solving common problems. The economic development of a town very much depends on partnerships and co-operation. The town must develop close relationships with its surrounding regions and countryside to stimulate economic development and enlist the support of other towns, partners and agencies in sharing tasks and spacialization.


1. A town is economically part of its surrounding region or hinterland.

Local authorities, in preparing their plans, policies, strategies, and programmes for their administrative areas, should examine the inter-relationship of their town within the region and city-networks. This should distinguish between different territories and trends with due attention to their specific needs and to their mutual potentials. This is needed in order to take into account competitive and complementary plans of other municipalities, to position investments and to encourage possible collaboration.

Towns should seek to link up with the surrounding regions encompassing both infrastructural and functional elements in order to gain a sufficient critical mass in terms of population, economic activities, services and labour availability. Any town is a node of wider city-networks which implies co-operation and mutual support. At the same time economic activities should be attentive to sensitive territories and promote eco-compatible land-uses. This involves establishing working relations with other local authorities and with any higher administrative level with planning responsibilities for the wider area.

2. Towns should improve their urban-rural relations.

The traditional urban-rural relationship, characterised by a hierarchical dependence of the rural area around the town, and by the separation of the two areas in economic terms, has led to a predominance of the town over the rural hinterland. Both contexts provide relevant economic relationships to each other that should be properly developed. Socio-economic stability and sustainable growth also depend on well functioning towns promoting strategic regional development and well balanced urban-rural relationships, as well as preventing uncontrolled urban sprawl.

Economic marginalization of rural areas should find countervailing processes in a new integration with urban system. This should not be based just on agricultural policies, but on integrated economic and spatial planning programmes consistent with the development policies of the entire region.

3. Collaboration between public and private partners is an important asset in urban economic growth and development.

Given that the provision of infrastructure and services is essential to all economic sectors and that public authorities cannot always afford the improvements required by urban economic development, consideration must be given to a reallocation of responsibilities for the provision of infrastructure and services. A considerable effort by public authorities and private investors and stakeholders is therefore required to make effective use of resources and to tackle intensive and often interrelated pressures.

Collaboration with the private sector is thus essential. Seeking to enrol the private sector in the pursuit of public objectives stimulates private sector enterprise and initiates proposals, which may result in more innovative and effective solutions. Collaboration between those two sectors is a means to merge private efficiency and public control.


The opportunity for employment is a right of all persons of working age in the community. With this expectation the urban population looks to local authorities, in association with other governmental bodies and the private sector, to facilitate and stimulate the provision of employment, particularly for young people seeking their first job. Local authorities have a role as economic enablers, assisting enterprises and creating conditions within a town which are favourable to economic development.


1. The provision of equal access to employment must be a concern of public authorities.

Appropriate measures to guarantee equal access to employment should include encouraging the establishment of businesses and economic activities and availability of work in the public and semi-public sectors for young people, especially women and disadvantaged groups. Particular emphasis should be laid on combating clandestine employment through the strengthening of legislation, reinforcement of controls and encouragement to employers to offer legitimate job opportunities.

Employment policies should enable the strengthening of vocational and training initiatives to give a closer match between the employment available and the skills of people.

The principle of equal treatment in respect of working conditions for immigrant communities is stipulated in the European Convention on the Legal Status of Migrant Workers. Such equality should be a constant concern of all authorities and employers.

2. Labour market policy must be linked to the development of towns.

European towns should strive to implement employment policies which aim at achieving more equity in the distribution of employment, and in the economic development of towns. These policies should provide for unskilled as well as highly skilled and specialised employment, and ensure that the geographical distribution of jobs does not create any areas of marginalisation.

Local measures for training and recruitment should be linked to the main urban initiatives and development patterns to safeguard employment in the long-term and a sound spatial development of towns.

3. Towns should promote innovation and creativity.

Much of today’s economic innovation is related to information technology. The context is also changing and both innovation and creativity are linked to a mix of economic, social and cultural activities that make towns attractive for new and different kinds of people, students, young workers, and foreign experts.

Towns should strive to identify a specific sector of economic activities which complement the local and regional characteristics, to enhance both physical and socio-cultural qualities becoming attracting poles for new activities to settle down and for employing creative people. Towns should enhance those spatial and cultural qualities that help to distinguish one town from another in their potential for creative activities and innovation.


Good accessibility and freedom to move are key elements for the development of economic activities, markets, resources, and the well-being of populations. Congestion causes economic inefficiencies not only for residents but also for investors who tend to move their activities elsewhere. Public authorities should strive to lessen the need to travel and better accessibility, by implementing more sustainable means of urban mobility and by linking different transportation modes. Also new information and communication technologies should be more widely available to allow citizens to be connected to the internet from all public places.


1. Good accessibility is a key factor in economic development.

The increase of economic activities generates new traffic patterns that often result in congestion thus reducing the efficiency of towns and their urban quality. In planning and programming transport infrastructure local authorities should ensure good accessibility to both people and activities for guaranteeing both economic growth and sustainable development.
A consistent and complementary approach to planning activities and programmes, in collaboration with the surrounding regions and towns should be provided. This should be related to a careful allocation of transport investments, and to a particular care in the protection of the urban and the natural environment.

2. Market policies should be used as a tool to counteract unnecessary commuter flows.

The main productive activities and services are often concentrated in specific urban areas, thus causing severe problems of commuter flows especially during rush hours, with intensive increase in traffic, noise and pollution.

Local authorities should therefore seek to allocate employment in spatial terms so as to avoid its concentration in a few congested places. This should be done both with effective planning decisions and location policies that improve the possibility of working at home and making working hours more flexible.

3. New communication and information technologies must be accessible for all.

Access to information is nowadays becoming an important element of socio-economic development offering wide communication possibilities. E-commerce will in the near future probably replace traditional trading patterns, especially where offering goods, products and services on a global market.
Towns should provide wide accessibility to all citizens to new forms of telecommunication and information. All public places such as administrative buildings, schools, libraries, railway stations should provide free internet access to people.



European towns are becoming poly-ethnic and multicultural living and working places for all. In this respect there should be no discrimination by social status, class, age, culture, religion, physical or mental dis-ability or gender of citizens in European urban society.

Such a principle is not, however, always respected. Immigrant communities or minorities with different traditions, cultures, languages and religions are sometimes not accepted into the community with the result of increasing social exclusion, solitude, fear and poor standards of living. Other disadvantaged groups such as elder, invalid or sick persons may enjoy their basic individual rights only through the understanding and the help of others.

In towns various groups of people coexist, having different claims on the built environment and on the provision of facilities, services and work. Multi-cultural and poly-ethnic policies, so as programmes targeted to different groups are the key to an improved way of life and to more social cohesion in towns. This can lead to cultural and economic enrichment for towns, and assist in managing the co-existence of groups of different cultural backgrounds and social ability. It could also help co-operation, recognising that the result is of benefit to the whole community. The notion of European citizenship is thus advanced, based on active democracy fostering a sense of belonging to, and in the promotion of a distinctive identity even in the free expression of different beliefs.


1. Non-discrimination is a fundamental aspect of urban living.

Acceptance of differences and tolerance are the basis for an equitable urban society. All groups should be granted the right to protect their interests and maintain their social and cultural identity. However, no group should prevail over others, nor impose its habits, beliefs or traditions. All citizens deserve respect as human beings and the respect of the European urban identity must be a concern for all local authorities. This implies policies and education which deal more effectively with social exclusion and tackle the inequalities in society incorporating an acceptance of the cultural differences of all groups, fostering dialogue and exchange between all cultures and religions.

Local authorities should act against any form of discrimination in order to ensure equal access to all citizens - irrespective of race or ethnic origins, age, class, or social ability - to public places, employment training, schools, housing, cultural activities and other aspects of life in towns.

2. Co-operation with and between different social groups is essential.

Close, constant consultation and co-operation must take place on a regular basis between the different groups and the various bodies responsible for urban planning and socio-cultural activities and policies. This will ensure the inclusion of the special requirements for different social groups in the development of towns.

Consultation in the planning stage, not just during development and implementation, enhances the quality of the services provided and improves the efficiency of integration measures adopted by the local authorities. Such consultation should be done in respect of planning the urban environment as a whole; schemes for streets, public spaces, amenities and transport; on building regulations and with planning permission applications.

3. Towns must be designed in such a way that all citizens have access to all places.

All places in towns must be accessible to people, whatever their disability or handicap. If necessary special facilities or times for different groups should be available. This accessibility to use public buildings and amenities must not, however, produce undue inconvenience to other users, nor be unrealistic or too costly.

It is neither advisable to design or equip towns completely for those suffering from handicaps. An over-protective environment must be avoided in favour or one which enables children, the elderly, women and disabled people to adjust to their environment and participate fully in the normal everyday life of the community.


A safe and healthy environment is fundamental to the perception of the quality of urban life.
Urban safety is threatened by natural calamities especially if development pressure caused building in dangerous areas such as those prone to floods, landslides and earthquakes. Towns are also threatened by accidents caused by dangerous human activities.

Towns have a unique potential and role to play in promoting and maintaining health. The aim of local authorities should be to promote and implement healthy public policies in all aspects of urban life. It is also particularly important to create social conditions which enable people to look after themselves individually and collectively and provide general care in the event of sickness or accident.


1. Towns must be protected from natural and man-made disasters.

Nowadays there are a wide range of problems threatening both the citizens and the urban spaces such as natural disasters like floods, landslides, earthquakes and droughts which cannot be foreseen. Other events manacing urban health are the predictable calamities which occur where ecosystems are constantly threatened or where planning in the past did not take special care concerning the location of settlements in risky environments, and the risks and accidents caused by highly dangerous human activities such as nuclear accidents, industrial pollution, poisoning of soil, water or air so as by some infrastructure such as airports, rails, and major traffic roads.

Local authorities should strive for more environmental protection and resource management concentrating above all on the improvement of the environmental quality eliminating the main sources of pollution including rehabilitation of deteriorating areas Risk assessments and protection plans, and development of interregional co-operation programmes for maintaining the overall quality and safety of the environment, also need to be undertaken. Locational choices in development plans should always be accompanied by a risk assessment.

2. The urban environment must be conducive to health for all citizens.

Local authorities should strive for healthy towns. This can be achieved by developing a comprehensive urban environment policy; managing waste, monitoring air, noise, water, soil and sub-soil pollution, and by totally eliminating the most dangerous aspects of these.

In addition, authorities should keep the most sensitive urban areas under constant review, providing special facilities for the very young, elderly and those with disabilities, and by generally promoting community development and social renewal.

3. Urban health involves the co-ordination of municipal action with international programmes.

The principal objective of international exchanges between towns is to enable individual towns within such a network to develop, via an exchange of experience and information, new public health programmes; define joint actions; legitimize health initiatives and develop explicit political commitment.

This means that municipalities should be encouraged to join international environmental health movements, particularly implementing the principles for Healthy Cities of the World Health Organisation.


Security is the concern of everyone and a town cannot be fully enjoyed unless the inhabitants' security are paramount, and unless fear of crime is reduced. This applies both at the urban scale and in the public realm or private spaces. A number of strategies can be employed to create a safe environment.

The perception of security results from a variety of influences that affect the locational choices of citizens. If a part of a town is felt to be insecure or unhealthy this will be avoided and become marginalised, and this will enter into a cycle of exclusion and insecurity. Encouraging shops, cafes, recreational spaces and residential areas to spill over into the public areas by means of planning, design and management strategies will ensure they are protected by their formal and informal owners. If an area is easy to maintain to a high standard it is less likely that crime and antisocial behaviour will occur.


1. Crime prevention requires an understanding by local authorities of the economic and social background.

Economic and social exclusion (caused by religious, ethnic, cultural, income levels and racial reasons), the ‘new poor’ and homelessness are threats menacing urban stability and quality of life. Urban security should be considered in its dual dimension of objective safety and subjective perception of security break-down. Security requirements differ, for example between the needs for immigrants and those of the indigenous population. Indeed, they can even conflict with each other in the sense that security for the one group can represent a source of insecurity for the others.

Local authorities are in the best position to attack the root causes of violence and criminality. Local authority should analyse the causes of social instability, elaborate and implement appropriate social development policies, restoring social ties, developing mutual support structures, and partnership-based action programmes.

2. Local authorities should understand the relationship between an adverse built environment and insecurity.

Places which demonstrate a strong sense of belonging to someone and being cared for are less likely to be targeted by crime and vandalism. Places which are anonymous and show no evidence of belonging to a recognised and respected entity tend to attract undesirable owners who will claim the space. This implies striving for a deeper sense of ownership in the local population and for instilling civic pride in city users. This also involves defining local surveillance procedure on a partnership basis, particularly in respect of isolated or entrapment zones which might be dangerous places; advising public authorities and citizen groups on reduction of opportunities for theft, protection of property, and neighbourhood watch schemes.

Town planning and urban design should pay particular attention to the renewal of spaces in order to enhance urban security and vitality in a way that combined actions should be addressed to integrate functions, to better the quality of places also by acting on their lighting and maintenance, to enhance design and building solutions, to intensify public transports and improve time-tables. The planning of the public spaces and services should interiorise the need of vitality, accessibility, flexibility and variety and constantly seek for urban safety and security. Public and private interventions should be related to maintenance and renewal of the urban fabric in order to prevent degradation.

3. Effective urban security and crime prevention depends upon close co-operation between all public authorities in the local community.

One of the principal causes of crime is social alienation and the difficulties encountered, particularly by young people, in identifying with a culture, the family, the school or society as a whole. Drug addiction is a cause of crime, where it involves trafficking and where it involves dependent persons committing crimes in order to obtain drugs. Whilst the prosecution of dealers is primarily a matter for specialist police and judicial authorities, the local community as a whole must organise itself to reduce demand.

This involves programmes for training liaison staff and community workers, teachers, youth and social workers who are in touch with individuals but also programmes for monitoring target groups. Particular attention should be paid to sections of the population in difficulty, not by creating special structures but by means of comprehensive approaches incorporating economic integration, treatment facilities and good housing. To reinforce its effectiveness, the police should maintain a dialogue with citizens and with their representatives, with the aim of co-ordinating actions with that of other bodies active in the community.


The home is the personal space and the place with which everybody identifies. Access and right to housing are enshrined in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and towns play a determinant role in the provision of housing, nevertheless the pressures for housing is growing fast all around Europe.

Nowhere is the sheer diversity of European cities more apparent than in their housing infrastructure.

Many citizens are housed in monolithic estates that are ageing fast, have poor standards and design and are located in environments that fail to offer the qualities of safety, privacy and pleasure that inhabitants are entitled to expect. Poor housing is often concentrated in inner cities and on the periphery of towns. It is a particularly acute problem in many central and eastern European countries.

In stark contrast, many citizens are now finding themselves priced out of more affluent cities as house prices soar. This, in turn, creates social polarization with the best schools and health and other services gravitating to the wealthiest areas and with the threat that many key workers may be lost as they are frozen out of the housing market and forced to move elsewhere.

Although birth rates have generally been controlled in Europe, the demand for housing continues to rise as the rate of household formation grows. Traditional family structures are changing, with more divorce, more single parents, more young people leaving home, more elderly and, altogether, a much greater tendency towards small households. In consequence the pressures for more housing grow. To the challenge of poor housing is added the task of catering for an ever- increasing demand. Experience suggests that there are three elements to successful housing strategies.

Firstly, diversity is needed. Effective programs tend to have a mix of tenures from the social to the private and a mix of housing styles and sizes of unit. Even old high-rise estates have been rescued by selective demolition, renovation and variation in the height, form and tenure of buildings. This is often accompanied by the introduction of greater variety of activities, including small industries and services and the improvement of the amount, quality and safety of open spaces and of facilities for younger people.

Secondly, housing programs must be developed in association with the work of other agencies. For example the revitalisation of run-down housing is more likely to work if it is accompanied by improvements in the training and employment opportunities of residents. Good quality housing combines attractive built form with social and economic stability.

Thirdly, there is a need to plan for more sustainable housing. This is partly a matter of making much fuller use of sustainable forms of design and construction so that, for example, there is better use of materials and of energy sources. It also means planning for a more compact city so that the problems of suburban sprawl, and the unsustainable consumption of rural and agricultural land, are minimised.


1. Diversity, choice, and mobility in housing should be ensured.

Every person should be entitled to an adequate housing. The supply of housing must match the different needs of single people and families and respond to the various changes in lifestyle and socio-economic conditions.

Local authorities should pursue diversity of housing, occupancy status and location, and intervene to counteract market inadequacies. Residential mobility should be stimulated to provide more flexibility in the housing market. Local authorities should ensure through their planning powers a wide choice of housing accommodation, with a variety of housing styles, sizes and standards, to fulfil all needs and ensure that the housing stock supports a balanced community.

At the same time local authorities should take care to ensure that housing programmes based on rehabilitation are accompanied by appropriate financial and fiscal mechanisms to ensure, as far as possible, that the original residents can benefit from the general improvement of the area and are not forced to move because of the increased costs and rents consequent upon such rehabilitation. Equally the provision of new residential areas must guarantee social mix in neighbourhoods to avoid ghettos.

2. There should be opportunities to purchase housing and security of tenancy.

Right to accommodation implies a right to become part of a local community - often impossible without long-term security in accommodation.

Local authorities should ensure that the opportunity to purchase housing at a reasonable cost is available and, accordingly, should promote all possible arrangements for home ownership or tenancy. The right to accommodation should not be discriminatory in respect of certain categories of people: the elderly, disabled, the unemployed, single parent families, or immigrants.

Housing policy should be a local authority responsibility, which should have the capacity of direct intervention to achieve its social objectives, and in addition encourage the private sector to do so in equal measure. Where legislation permits tenants of public housing to purchase property, local authorities have a responsibility to replace accommodation units in the public sector. Equally important is the right to security for tenants.

3. Everyone is entitled to secure and pleasant housing and to privacy at home.

A home provides the personal space for an individual, where there must be a maximum guarantee of security, tranquillity and protection of personal property and privacy.

Legislation for local authorities should enable as many individuals and families as possible to be adequately housed and to enjoy a reasonable standard of living. This should be achieved through the establishment and monitoring of safety standards in building, and by programmes aiming at replacing or restoring inadequate houses. Alongside this comes the introduction in the residential environment of greater variety of facilities, including small productive activities and services and the improvement of the amount, quality and safety of open spaces and of facilities for younger and elderly people.

This also implies that housing should be provided with and surrounded by green areas, safe play spaces, allotments and gardens as natural complement to adequate housing. Local authorities should also strive for an overall quality of the built and residential environment by promoting the availability of basic infrastructures, services and facilities.

4. All citizens are entitled to more sustainable housing and residential areas.

It is essential to acknowledge that all urban dwellers are concerned about more sustainable housing and urban environments. The physical form of towns, particularly the nature of housing in its wider neighbourhood setting, plays a key role in achieving a high quality urban environment. This is partly a matter of planning for a more compact city so that the problems of suburban sprawl, and the unsustainable consumption of rural and agricultural land are minimised. It also means making much fuller use of sustainable forms of design and construction so that there is better use of materials and of energy sources.

Local authorities should pay particular attention in the protection of residential areas against pollutants, in the creation of environmental protection and buffer zones, parks, gardens and allotments, in diversion of heavy traffic causing disturbance, and in the supply of a variety of facilities accessible to everyone. Public consultation and community involvement should be encouraged and citizens should be given the opportunity to express their ideas and influence decision-making in respect of the form of their surroundings and in the application of innovative sustainable planning criteria.


Towns also play a vital role in the provision of other facilities, and in the promotion of cultural and educational activities that reflect a town's specific cultural tradition and the identity of its population.

Each town should be attentive to safeguard and foster its cultural heritage and collective memory and forward these to the future generations by means of educational programmes and initiatives that include architectural creation, language, the arts, music, literature and all traditional expressions of the rich storehouse of the history of a town. Cultural and educational policy can moreover contribute to economic and social development by enabling its citizens, within their towns, to understand, identify, and recognise their particular roles and goals within an interrelated European network of cities.


1. The cultural improvement of towns contributes to economic and social development.

The universality of cultural democracy is embodied in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Cultural policy should be an important contributor to economic development and to the creation of a sense of community. The cultural richness of a multi-ethnic society represents an opportunity for the development of society as a whole. Culture is a fundamental element in education at all levels; can be a powerful means for achieving public participation with the social regeneration of disadvantaged sectors of the population. A strategy for culture should be a key element within a comprehensive urban programme; part of an overall policy for the improvement of the quality of life in towns and for the enhancement of the urban identity.

Local authorities should recognise that the transfer of cultural experience of their towns to others plays an important role in creating mutual comprehension and respect. Cultural development is not simply the responsibility of local authorities. They should seek to enlist, by a variety of means, greater involvement of the business world in patronage of the arts and cultural recreation.

2. Cultural pluralism presupposes experiment and encouragement of innovation.

Part of the richness of cultural activity derives from its spontaneous, innovative and creative nature. Successful cultural development must recognise and target the particular needs and contribution of specific groups of the population, for example, young people and immigrant communities.

Local authorities should recognise the importance of cultural pluralism and diversity through appropriate grant aid for cultural activities and by providing adequate places for people to express themselves by means of minor arts such as street dancing, playing, performing, and even controlled graffiti.

3. The balanced promotion of cultural tourism can have a beneficial effect on the community.

Cultural tourism is a growth industry throughout Europe; historic towns, cultural and artistic events attract visitors in ever increasing numbers.

The benefits to towns are clear: increased prosperity; improved local employment prospects, and extension of the range of amenities available to residents. Other beneficial "spin-offs" include support of the building industry, expansion of specialised crafts and an increase in the mutual knowledge and respect of different cultures and communities.

Local authorities should strive for elaborating and implementing a tourist and cultural management plan which closely involves local residents, the private sector, representatives of the tourist industry and local authorities, so that benefits can be assured and negative effects avoided. Tourist development programmes should respect local traditions and the urban and natural environment.


Education, sport, recreational activities, and travel facilities must be accessible for all. Particularly, sport has a fundamental role since it provides the means of interaction for individuals and communities, bringing them closer together. It can also help in giving people a sense of direction and avoid social alienation, and in the fight against exclusion. Everyone has the right to participate in educational, sporting and recreational activities, up to the level of ability, thus improving lives through a sense of social and physical well-being.


1. The provision of equal access to education must be a concern of public authorities.

Appropriate measures to guarantee equal access to education and educational facilities should be a mayor concern of local authorities. Special actions should be promoted to encourage the access to education by disadvantaged groups.

Educational policies should enable the strengthening of vocational and training initiatives to give a closer coincidence and match between the offer of employment and the skills of persons.

2. All citizens have a right to take part in sporting and recreational activities.

In line with the provisions of the Sport for All Charter, local authorities, either directly or by enabling others to do so, have a responsibility to improve access to sport and recreationalo facilities for everyone, irrespective of social and economic background, age, or ethnic group.

This is done principally by devising special policies, sports development and coaching programmes, including those with special needs, to take part in sport; in providing a network of basic sports and recreational facilities covering the whole of their urban area within easy reach of homes; and providing opportunities to play traditional as well as modern sports.

Local authorities should ensure when planning new development in existing urban areas, the provision of open spaces, wooded areas, playgrounds, stretches of water and cycle paths, in order to foster and stimulate recreational activities and its accessibility by all groups, especially children, young and elderly people. Urban sports and recreational facilities should blend with surrounding buildings and townscape, showing and contributing to a sense of place but at the same time sensitively located so as not to cause problems to noise-sensitive users such as hospitals or schools. Their design and materials should enable everyone to participate safely and in a healthy manner.

3. Travel facilities and public transport must be accessible for everyone.

Freedom to travel is a basic individual right, yet for some categories of people, travel and movement are a problem. Travel facilities should be carefully designed and time-tables should be elaborated in such a way to allow the maximun use by all citizens.

This right should extend to those groups who are at a disadvantage because of their age, physical or mental ability, knowledge of the language and local customs. Their use of different resources and facilities must be encouraged, via more extensive use of universal pictograms; translations; appropriate signposting of paths for pedestrians and cyclists; intensive practical language and information training for ethnic minorities; the use of interactive user-friendly information systems and by avoiding any architectonic barrier.



The form of urban areas, whether historic or new, largely reflects their climate and natural topography. These two environmental factors, together with national culture and the needs of the citizens, are fundamental in all decisions regarding the development of towns, their built environment and infrastructure. Planning and must ensure that European towns respond to change with high quality developments, in a creative and sensitive manner, which is appropriate to their regional location, character, and historic heritage.


1. Urban planning should ensure that development responds to the local climate, topography, culture, character, historic context, and infrastructure, in a sustainable manner.

Europe’s urban areas, whether they have grown gradually over time, or are new towns, owe much to nature of their climate and topography. The climate can range widely between that of the Mediterranean and the colder Northern regions. This accounts for a wide diversity of environments and the resulting approaches to planning and urban design. Similarly local topography is a crucial factor. A river valley, hills, or coastal location, will each have had a fundamental effect. In addition, the intrinsic qualities of their national and regional character will be discernible in their structure, layout and appearance.

All these influences can be clearly seen in the historic heritage of buildings, spaces and infrastructure of European urban areas. With particular emphasis on sustainability, these factors must be taken into account in all new development and renewal.

2. Local authorities should prepare planning and development policies for their urban areas within national and regional guidance.

Every city and town requires a system and policies for controlling development to meet the aspirations of its citizens, to protect its heritage, and guide new proposals. The participation of citizens and businesses is essential in the preparation, implementation and continual updating of the urban policies.

These policies should contain all the principles discussed elsewhere in the Urban Charter, to ensure that the form of towns reflects, in a sustainable way, the ecological, economic, and equity objectives of citizens. Sound governance and decisions from local authorities must also implement them.

3. All new development must be sensitive to a town’s character and historic context.

The form of a town emanates from its people their culture and activities, and its history and environment. Protection of the character of a town is vital. Local authorities and their professional staff should therefore aim to create surroundings that harmonise the new with the old. New development in historic areas requires a careful balance between traditional and modern needs. Most important is a sensitive understanding of historic context and its contribution to urban character and appearance.

One of the most cherished features of many European towns are their skyline, which are often symbolic of the place. Where high buildings are proposed, it is vital to locate them they: enhance the skyline as a landmark; do not harm historic views or the immediate surroundings, and are well served by public transport.

4. Town centres must be safeguarded as important symbols of European culture and heritage.

Town centres are usually the most memorable parts of a town and often contain priceless elements of architectural heritage. They can establish feelings of identity for present and future generations and are key factors in establishing a sense of solidarity and a sense of community between the people of Europe.

A town centre’s appearance and atmosphere can give a clear environmental clue to the quality of the rest of a town. An attractive, busy and friendly centre, appeals to visitors and customers who perceive that the place is worth visiting. Of particular importance is the presence of residents, especially those living above shops, who can provide surveillance of the street below and a sense of propriety and local vitality.

Town centres are often the focus of major new development and many European centres are changing from mainly divers shopping and office areas to places for leisure and tourism. It is essential that social diversity is maintained by encouraging mixed-use development and ensuring residential accommodation is retained.

Solutions to urban pressure in historic centres require a careful balance between their traditional emphasis on dense and diverse developments and new large-scale uses demanding space and accessibility at an accelerated pace of development and change.


The built environment of a successful town arises from sensitive and creative urban design, which has been defined as the art of making places for people. Design must display a high level of quality in all of its actions. It must be concerned with the needs of the people, accessibility and the way a town functions It must also protect and conserve the existing historic built environment, as well as encouraging well-designed new development.

Towns are usually judged not only by their vitality and quality of their services, but also by the quality of their environment, historic heritage, new development, accessibility, sense of security and public maintenance. How these relate to each other and how they look and perform are crucial in judging success.


1. The design of European Towns must give attention to the way they function as well as how they look.

The needs of the people of a town for homes, work, leisure and movement are al served by urban design, which must therefore be as concerned with the way the town functions as well as how it looks. Good urban design is a key to sustainable development, with pleasant residential and working areas, a convenient and comfortable travel infrastructure, and an attractive and safe physical environment. Security is a vital issue to people in towns today, and the application of the technique of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design is much favoured by all concerned with public safety. All these help to provide the right conditions for a flourishing economic and social life in towns.

The most likeable urban environments consist of attractive blends of buildings of all ages, parks, roads, spaces, views and busy with people; creating a pleasurable ambience by night and day I all weathers. A beautiful built environment, with imaginative new architecture and engineering integrated with the historic heritage, properly serving a town’s functions, will enhance the lives of everyone involved in that town. Aesthetic considerations are vital components to a quality of life of all citizens. Fine architecture need not be expensive and contributes greatly to the overall success of cities. Imagination and creativity can provide quality and beauty at a reasonable cost.

2. Urban design will only be successful if it is imbued with worthwhile qualities.

Buildings, roads, street furniture, landscaping and maintenance all need high quality design and careful maintenance to be successful. Quality in design supports sustainability by the creative use of derelict land, old buildings, conserving local areas, ensuring that buildings are energy efficient and their fabric easily maintained. Designing with quality is also economical, because a building that is pristine on opening, but difficult to maintain, will be a liability to its owners and offensive to the public.

Development through enlightened planning, sustainable design and construction, and careful maintenance, are all essential features of successful towns. New development must respect its historic context. Many successful schemes have a combination of modern design, conservation and restoration of existing buildings. No two places are identical, design must always utilise unique qualities as an asset. High quality design applies not only to buildings but also to all the details of a town, from its buildings and roads to its open spaces and street furniture.

Architectural and planning competitions can have a key role in generating new ideas. This is particularly so in an old town where high quality design must be achieved. Design briefs should be flexible to allow for innovation and imagination, and to respond to future changes in demography and land uses.

3. Particular attention must be given to those places and spaces between buildings to which everyone has access - the ‘Public Realm’, and to its security.

Human activity and well-being, in all sizes of city and town, requires that there is space wander and meet in the public realm. Open spaces, footways, minor streets, tree-lined boulevards, parks, playgrounds, riverbanks, railway concourses, traffic-free areas, and gardens - are therefore intrinsic to the character and appearance of towns

In large European cities public space is changing due to increasing privatization of spaces that were once in the public realm; surveillance and control of access; and increasing design intervention that break connections with local history and geography. This can be overcome by retaining and creating pedestrian networks connecting the main areas of public interest. These must be attractive to use by being: continuous, landscaped, paved, lit, signposted and maintained.

Well-designed, maintained and actively used open spaces increase the attractiveness of a town, and contribute to its economic prosperity and social life. The importance of parks, with their natural features and flora and fauna, cannot be too highly stressed. They must however be well designed in terms of character, quality, safety, activities and public art, also well lit, maintained and supervised to create a secure and attractive environment.


Our urban heritage is an important and irreplaceable part of the built fabric, crucial for the identity of a city and its inhabitants. It hands down to future generations cultural artefacts providing a consciousness of Europe's common history and future. It consists of monuments, groups of buildings, structures, places, spaces and sites, as indicated in Article 1 of the European Convention of the Architectural Heritage.

Local authorities, in concert with other heritage bodies, are in the best position to manage and enhance this urban heritage. Their powers regarding new development place them in the key position to ensure regeneration is beneficial and of a high quality.


1. The built heritage of a city is usually one of its greatest physical assets and needs to be protected and nurtured.

Europe’s historic towns, with their buildings, urban spaces, activities and street patterns, provide an important link between the past and the future. The best elements of the architectural heritage which enshrine the city's memory and identity must be enhanced by high quality contemporary design. The fabric is a living organic entity and not something that should merely be preserved, it must also be enhanced.

The architectural heritage of buildings and spaces, and their historic and cultural associations, are what make a city distinctive. Older buildings, whether a historic landmark or not, often have a great variety of options for reuse. An historic building would be best used for its designed purpose but, if impossible, a conversion can give the building a new lease of life. Local authorities should understand that conservation of the heritage could go hand in hand with successful urban economic regeneration. There are numerous successful examples of highly imaginative reuse of the most unprepossessing old buildings. Historic places and sites having a distinctive character and a sense of place can provide a catalyst to regeneration. One of the often forgotten benefits of conservation is that it is a highly sustainable form of development, because it enables savings to be made of energy, raw materials and infrastructure.

2. Managing the historic environment requires a carefully prepared legal framework and guidance to be properly applied.

Whilst responsibility for conservation is in the hands of public authorities, individual buildings are usually in private ownership. A legal framework is therefore essential to regulate development in order to ensure protection of the built heritage. The public authorities must provide appropriate monitoring procedures, as well as management and guidance, to protect individual or groups of buildings, and enable sympathetic alterations and extensions. They must also prevent unnecessary demolition. Sensitive change to the historic fabric and its environment must be allowed for in legislation, without harming structures and features of special architectural, historic or cultural significance. This must not, however, be used in a negative controlling way, but to encourage new contemporary uses and design. Conservation does not mean preservation.

Legislation should also provide for the preparation of a comprehensive register or inventory of the urban heritage. This register, arising from a wide survey of historic structures within a town, should identify what is of special interest and reuse, and should include potential new heritage. This register must be publicly accessible and continually monitored.

The creation of protected conservation areas should be provided for; this must have regard for the public realm, street paving, lighting and open space. Local authorities should control and guide conservation through published guidance notes, with lists of the availability of specialists, skilled artisans and traditional materials.

3. The local community should be fully involved in historic heritage.

Respect for the historic environment can only be achieved through increased public awareness of the intrinsic value of the built heritage, settings, and historic traditions and uses. Therefore public information, education and training are essential.

Knowledge about the historic environment should be communicated through working forums and other media. It should be understood and valued by all of those working in the urban environment, not just specialised professionals. School curricula should include study of urban as well as social history. Conservation and preservation societies also have a vital role to play during the consultation processes of development.

Training in specialised crafts and techniques is essential. It can provide a valuable source of both skilled and unskilled jobs and apprenticeship training. Those administrating the regulatory system, and others engaged with heritage projects also need training.

4. Financial mechanisms and partnerships are vital components to successful action and must be widely available.

Conservation of the urban heritage is a heavy financial commitment, both in the physical structures themselves and in providing adequate administrative services to implement national, regional and local conservation policies. Often beyond the resources of public authorities, funding requires partnership with the private sector and incentives to private individuals. These can include tax and fiscal incentives to encourage restoration rather than demolition; sale of historic property at a reduced price on condition that full repair and conservation is carried out; long-term loans; creation of restoration foundations; development of revolving funds; increased use of patronage and sponsorship. Grant aid for conservation projects can have a regulatory effect when covering a wider area.


The growth of vehicle use, predominantly the car, lorries and vans, is placing a heavy strain on urban highway systems and is also destructive to the urban fabric and the environmental amenity of citizens. The use of private vehicles must therefore be controlled and managed, and the use of public and mass transport encouraged.

A more sustainable land use planning strategy should be adopted, favouring accessibility, with the compact high-density town with mixed uses, integrating housing, employment and other functions with innovative movement systems.


1. It is essential that the volume of travel, particularly by private car, is reduced and new approaches to urban travel adopted.

Over the last century, the private vehicle has dominated transport policies to the detriment of the public transport system and loss of urban fabric and the land. Vehicles threaten towns through noise, discomfort, psychological and physical insecurity, loss of amenity and social space and atmospheric pollution. What is less understood is the demand that road transport makes upon urban space and its impact on the coherence and form of urban areas, with sprawling, unsustainable development and ever-greater problems for those with access to a car. The past decade has seen a continuing steep rise in vehicle ownership and usage, and there are bound to be pressures in central and eastern European cities to “catch up”.

Most towns and cities have found political and technical risks of restraint of the car too daunting. Nevertheless, there are good examples across Europe of excellent public transport and its integration with development so that new activities are encouraged in the places with best access by train, tram and bus. Another approach could be the greater use of congestion charging.

The car does however have many immediate attractions for people because its convenience and flexibility allows them to travel more easily. This applies particularly to the wealthier inhabitants. There is, however, a price to be paid in additional heavy commuting patterns, and the effort of organising efficient and economically-viable public transport, in sprawling suburban areas that come as a consequence. This is not environmentally sustainable.

Significant changes require different behavioural patterns. Increasing concern for the environment is not always matched by changes to ingrained travel habits, especially in car usage. The use of public transport, walking and cycling, as the natural, sustainable and healthy way to travel, should be the norm. Local authorities have a clear responsibility top support measures and develop consciousness-raising campaigns, in partnership with other bodies.

2. Information technology and electronic communications should be utilised to reduce the need to travel.

Some of the early expectations that information technology would enable development to locate in much more flexible ways have not been born out. If anything the effect has been to concentrate development in the centres of major cities, which are increasingly the only places able to offer the critical mass of expertise demand by the headquarters of global industries.
Alongside the undoubted benefits of the information revolution in terms of better access to services and learning, there are worries that it may exacerbate the gap between the global cities and the rest, and the gap between those who do and do not have access to its benefits. Local authorities have a responsibility to ensure that these benefits are available to all, and are used to improve the quality of public services and indeed to increase the engagement of citizens in the affairs of their town.
Another problem is that, although computer based work at home can contribute to a more sustainable approach to communications, is unlikely to be the only solution because of its adverse dissocialising effect.

3. Ineffective land use controls and separation of functions cause many accessibility problems. Land users need to be integrated with transport systems.

Some planning practices applied over the last fifty years, have led to the current impasse. Two of these, poor land use controls and separation of essential functions, are particularly to blame. They have resulted in towns becoming congested and abandoned by the middle income people; and sprawling suburban areas where efficient economically-viable public transport is virtually impossible. In its most tangible and visible form, it imposes unavoidable travel for citizens living in one place, working in another, seeking essential services and goods in yet another, transporting their children to and from schools elsewhere. Integrated land use and transport policies should be applied in urban areas, especially in those endangered by congestion. Local authorities should implement plans aiming at reducing the use of private vehicles and enhancing the quality of public transport and of the environment.

This includes the creation of efficient transport interchanges between rail, bus, tram and car parks. In the suburban areas the highest density development should be close to public transport stops, stations and interchanges. In larger cities this entails places of employment being adjacent to transport centres and these integrated with pedestrian networks, so that passengers are persuaded to walk to their final destinations, rather than use another vehicle mode.

4. Mobility must be organised in a way maintains a liveable town and permits co-existence of different forms of travel.

It is impossible to eliminate travel, but it should be feasible to reorganise the different forms of travel with the overall aim of creating a town in which it is a pleasure to live, rather than one which follows specific sectoral objectives. It means giving priority to public transport, bicycles and pedestrians, for the individual transport of people and goods. It means restrictions on access by heavy traffic, whether delivering goods or not. It means the examination of innovative measures to control street use, for example, the alternating use of both time and space; congestion charging; part-time pedestrian use; alternating hours, days, periods of the week or of the year. It means the creation of cycle paths; carefully planned pedestrian zones; out-of-town parking, accompanied by frequent low-cost, safe and reliable public transport to reach central urban areas.

5. Reclaiming the streets for pedestrians.

One very positive way to improve a town is to create attractive and safe pedestrian routes in the form of networks. Many towns have tourist walks or trails that cover the main historic and scenic features, but few have developed these into networks that embrace other activities and places.

The loss of the street as a social living space contributes to the decline of a town and an increase in insecurity. Streets become safer and more enjoyable by measures such as broader pavements; pedestrian precincts; control of traffic flows; the use of one-way streets; and a mixture of uses at street level. These should be contained within a network of connected pedestrian routes. Such networks should join the main places of generation and attraction of people, especially public transport modes and include “safe routes to school”. They should be inherently safe, high quality in design and materials, landscaped and lighting.