Concept of urban task forces and its application in the status project

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While there is a vast literature on the specific problems of small and middle-sized towns in Europe, the effect of planning issues on development opportunities in post-communist countries in these towns has been less documented. In this case, the centralist approach and focus on obsolete normative planning often determines a weak capacity of local authorities and lack of stakeholder involvement in strategic planning processes. The STATUS project (Strategic Territorial Agendas for “Small and Middle-Sized Towns” Urban Systems) in South-East Europe can be regarded as an attempt to stimulate a paradigm shift in local governance and integrated development in lower tier cities from several post-communist countries. The aim of the project was to design strategic territorial agendas (flexible urban programming tools transposing the results of local workshops into a coherent strategic planning document) for ten partners, based on a participative planning methodology. Through the STATUS project the concept of territorial cohesion was put into practice, making it easier to grasp by decision makers at different levels and defining a governance framework that facilitates a more effective and efficient use of EU structural funds. This paper overviews the Strategic Territorial Agendas realized in six partner cities located in postcommunist countries, with a special focus on the future implementation of these agendas by the Urban Task Forces (UTF). Crystallized during the STATUS project, the latter comprise the most relevant local stakeholders interested in local development. Benefiting, in some cases, from cooperation platforms known as Urban Centers, the UTF can be regarded as an alternative governance framework for ensuring the integration and correlation of sectorial projects at local or metropolitan level.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Definite Space – Fuzzy Responsibility, Prague, 13-16th July, 2015
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