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March 21, 2016

Residents Steer Housing Block Renovation

Residents Steer Housing Block Renovation

One of the key questions raised at NaNet discussions in Prague has been how a local government can involve residents in community planning.

At one of the meetings, Roman Haken of the Center for Community Work in Prague gave a presentation about his experiences with the EU's LEADER Programme, which supports NGOs, small cities and entrepreneurs at the local level in planning project development. Haken also gave several good-practice examples, including one in which citizens participate in the regeneration of panel housing estates. In fact, one of the project conditions was citizen participation.

During the planning process, several stakeholders, including residents, shopkeepers, families with children, and dog owners, were asked to comment on the proposed solution. Afterwards, roundtable discussions were organised with different departments of the local government (e.g. those focusing on environment and culture). Emergency services personnel also provided input. Residents were given various opportunities to participate. They were able to keep track of the planning process via a noticeboard in a local shop and had the possibility to express their opinions about the proceedings by posting comments in writing.

The participation of residents in local planning is still somewhat rare in the Czech Republic. The LEADER Programme (an acronym in French meaning "links between actions for the development of the rural economy") is financed by European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF). It has grown to play an important role in rural development policy and enjoys high levels of acceptance all over Europe. In the 2014–2020 programming period, more explicit support — in the form of a joint legal framework and harmonised rules for the four ESIF — will improve consistency and encourage support for local community-led strategy. The programme has also been reaching out to urban areas and started facilitating pilot projects in 2014.

Community-led local development (CLLD) is a tool developed specifically for use at the sub-regional level, but is complementary to existing forms of local-level support. It was introduced to cover trends in multi-source financing, merging procedures, network building and multi-level coordination throughout the public sector. It creates the social and economic capacity that EU countries need to function and can mobilise local communities and organisations in ways that will contribute towards achieving the Europe 2020 strategic goals for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, while fostering territorial cohesion.

Further information can be found in the EC factsheet on CLLD, and the European Economic and Social Committee document Community-Led Local Development (CLLD) as a tool of Cohesion Policy 2014-2020 for local, rural, urban and peri-urban development.