Global Urban Research Unit


A Sustainable Future for the Historic Urban Core - SHUC

The historic urban cores of European towns are a major European cultural asset. (J. Pendlebury, 2009; J. Pendlebury & Strange, 2011). However, their planning and management vary significantly because of different institutional conditions and social models (V. Nadin & D Stead, 2008). For example, in the Netherlands the state is the primary actor with municipalities acting directly in managing the built heritage (Janssen, Luiten, Renes, & Rouwendal, 2012), whereas in England the state largely regulates the private market and NGOs play a more important role. These different approaches have consequences for changes of use of property and space in the historic core.

Although countries use different management approaches they face similar pressures arising from the effects of the banking crisis and increasingly neoliberal government policies which tend to impose public spending constraints together with privatisation and deregulation. (Council, 2009; Dafflon, 2010, 2002) (P. Allmendinger & Haughton, 2012) (Nadin and Stead 2013). This presents serious challenges for the management of the cultural asset of the historic urban core, especially since past studies have pointed to the weakness of strategic approaches to coordinating the actions of a wider set of public, private and civil society actors in urban heritage management. There is a demand for a better understanding of the trajectory and impacts of planning and management approaches.

This project proposes to establish a collaborative network of researchers with a common interest in changing practices in urban planning and management of historic cities. It brings together research on planning practices for the historic urban core from three countries to apply a common theoretical framework. It will develop new comparative understandings of evolving practices and their consequences.

The project asks:

The method of analysis is primarily to bring existing research and scholarship in the three countries into a common cross-national conceptual framework. The provisional framework is already in place and draws on theories of strategic planning and area life cycle management (Lindgren & Bandhold, 2009; Henry Mintzberg, 1994, 1996; H. Mintzberg, Ahlstrand, & Lampel, 2005) and has been employed in pilot research on managing the historic urban cores of twenty cities in the Netherlands (Toorn Vrijthoff, 2011).