The Union of Homeowners’ Associations has been involved in the implementation of the project “The Making, Implementation and Execution of an Urban Regeneration Plan” in cooperation with the Dutch housing association Woonbron, the Bulgarian Housing Association and Oborishte District of Sofia Municipality. The aim of the project is to create a program for urban regeneration of inner city public spaces in one of the central districts of Sofia through the active participation of residents in cooperation with all stakeholders involved in the integrative and sustainable regeneration and development of the urban living environment. The project also aims to elaborate the preliminary investigations for urban regeneration that will reflect the needs and visions of citizens in coordination with the urban development policies of Oborishte District. The project implementation is based on the extensive transfer of know-how from the Dutch housing associations that are leaders in the process of urban regeneration in the Netherlands.
Survey of the Pilot Urban Regeneration Zone
In the period February-March 2009 an extensive survey on the problems and needs of residents from the pilot zone in Oborishte District is on the way of processing in order to build up the basis of the plan for regeneration of inner city public spaces. The questionnaire was disseminated among the residents from the urban regeneration pilot estate during a field work which was executed by experts from the Union of Homeowners’ Associations in cooperation with the district municipality. The results from the conducted survey are based on the analysis of the questionnaire forms filled in by the residents participating in the research as well as on the additional empirical information provided by the pilot district municipality. The results reveal the residents’ profile, the typology of the built environment, the profile of the living environment, the level of organization at building and neighbourhood level, the communication with the district municipality, and the assessment of residents’ needs to be considered as basis for the integrative urban planning and regeneration of inner estate public spaces. The survey results were presented on a public meeting with the neighbourhood community.
Establishment of Residents' Platform 'Ecocultura'
Clarity, Basis, Organisation, Energy, Challenge, Participation
The first meeting with the residents from the pilot housing estate in Oborishte District Municipality took place on 11 May 2009 in the premises of the Community Center “Aleko Konstantinov”. The event was organized within the framework of the Urban Regeneration Project developed jointly by the Bulgarian Housing Association, Woonbron Housing Corporation, CAC and Oborishte District Municipality. The meeting was attended by Mr. Dick Reinders and Mr. Victor Dreissen from the Dutch housing corporation Woonbron, arch. Antoaneta Yoveva, Deputy Mayor of Oborishte District Municipality, Vanya Palova, Chief Housing Department of the same municipality, representatives of the organizers as well as by residents from the pilot housing estate.
The meeting agenda incorporated a presentation of results from the survey of the residents’ needs and vision for urban regeneration in the pilot zone, information about the urban regeneration practices, organization of stakeholder participation and negotiating with authorities in the Netherlands, as well as Presentation of municipal vision for urban regeneration activities in the pilot area. The event concluded its work with an extensive discussion on the survey of the residents’ needs, the municipal plans for urban regeneration of the pilot area and agreement on the main pillars of an urban regeneration program.
After the discussion the participants in the debates reached a common vision about the distinctive features of the living environment in the neighbourhood that determines its identity and should be preserved during the process of urban regeneration planning. The participants shared the common understanding about the necessary changes and improvements that should be incorporated in the urban regeneration plan for renovating the inner spaces between the condominium buildings. The representatives of the residents from the pilot housing estate between Popova Shapka Street, Sitnyakovo Blvd and Cherkovna Street took a unanimous decision to establish a Residents’ Platform as an active counterpart of the district municipality in the process of making, implementation and execution of an urban regeneration plan for their neighborhood. This is a pioneer for Bulgaria civil society initiative for the active involvement of local communities in the process of urban regeneration and the renovation of inner estate public spaces. In this way the project reaches one of its main objectives - to build the necessary capacity in order to support the implementation of the Operational Program 'Regional Development 2007-2013" which is related to the housing policy (operation 1.2) and the improvement of physical environment (operation 1.4) in Bulgarian cities.
There is a strong demand in Bulgaria for learning from the Dutch experience in housing management and integrated urban planning to support urban regeneration. In this respect, the objective and the innovative contribution of this project is to contribute to the long-term improvement of the living conditions in the urban areas in Bulgaria by initiating the process of urban regeneration and improving the housing conditions. The goal is to increase the build capacity in support of the active civil society involvement of homeowners and their associations as well as of municipal authorities in the process of preparation, implementation and execution of a plan for urban regeneration. The project implementation is based on the transfer to Bulgaria of knowledge and experience gained in the Netherlands on housing management and urban regeneration projects, capacity building of the Union of Homeowners’ Associations on housing management supporting their activities with individual HOAs, development of training programmes for HOAs and municipal administration in regard their active participation in the process of integrated urban planning and regeneration, dissemination activities addressing municipalities and HOAs. The developed training materials and programs are based on the Urban Regeneration Manual created within the framework of a previous project of the Dutch Housing Association Woonbron in Romania kindly supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.
The Making of an Urban Regeneration Plan, Urban Regeneration in Oborishte, Introducing Woonbron, Urban Regeneration in the Netherlands, Project Structure and Organization, Project Phasing, Project Management and Participation, Social Management before, during and after Urban Regeneration, From Vision to Projects, Making a SWOT, Assignment 1 Participants, Assignment 2 Participants
SWOT Analysis of the Pilot Urban Regeneration Zone
As a continuation of the public event on 11 May 2009 and the establishment of the Residents’ Platform ‘Ecocultura’ in Oborishte District Municipality a public meeting took place on 10 July 2009 in order to continue the capacity building for the platform members as well as the work on making a regeneration plan for the pilot estate. Training on the main techniques of SWOT analysis took place with concrete implementation on the problem situation in the pilot zone. The members of the Resident’ Platform discussed the text of a Cooperation Charter to be signed with the mayor of the district municipality. The next day, representatives of the Residents’ Platform and members of the project team agreed on the final version of the conclusions from SWOT analysis and the priorities in the residents’ needs for urban regeneration of their neighbourhood. The participants in the meeting visited the pilot building for housing renovation and subsequent housing management and maintenance by the actively working homeowners’ association in Zaharna Fabrica housing estate.
Strategy for Implementation and Scenarios for Financing of UR Plan
The project meetings on 5 and 6 October 2009 in the Community Center 'Aleko Konstantinov' reached as final results a common agreement between the Residents' Platform 'EcoCultura' and Oborishte District Municipality about the goals and main priority measures of the urban regeneration plan of the pilot area, the strategy for its implementation and the possible scenarios for financing. The discussions started with revision and confirmation of the results from the SWOT analysis and the SWOT confrontation matrix. The work on this project phase was done with the professional support of the experts from the Dutch housing association Woonbron and the Union of Homeowners' Associations CAC. The need for cooperation between the district municipality and the residents with clear distribution of roles and responsibilities was among the most important conclusions from the discussions during the two days of common work on the elaboration of the plan. The participants agreed on the steps to be undertaken in order to guarantee the successful finalization of the project and the subsequent realization of the UR plan for the pilot zone.
Vision and Programme for Urban Regeneration of Poduene Centre Estate (quarter 166)
Vision and Programm for Urban Regeneration of the pilot Poduene Centre Estate (quarter 166) was elaborated in cooperation between the experts from the Dutch housing corporation Woonbron, the Bulgarian Housing Association and the Union of Homeowners' Associations in Bulgaria and with the active participation of the representatives of the Residents' Platform EcoCulture and the local administration of Oborishte District Muncipality. The urban regeneration plan will be implemented and executed in two phases in the coming four years with financing from Sofia Municipality and the European operative programmes.