Eleusis2021 – Planning a European Capital of Culture

Eleusis as seen from the Archaeological Museum. Ancient ruins, chimneys and the harbour mark its landscape. Photo by the author.

by Prof Ares Kalandides

When Eleusis, a small industrial town in the vicinity of Athens, was appointed European Capital of Culture for 2021, people received the decision both with joy and surprise: Joy, because this town, once one of the most important ritual sites in ancient Greece and home to the goddess Demeter, was back on the map; Surprise, because industrialization has clearly left its mark on the town, whose landscape is marked by factory chimneys, large industrial complexes and a commercial harbour. However, the choice of the European Commission is not based on what the city is, but on what it can become according to the bid book. And it was the bid, with its promise of a “passage to EUphoria” that managed to convince the jury.

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Shrewsbury Big Town Plan

Guest article by Aleks Vladimirov*

SHREWSBURY – The Birthplace of Charles Darwin

What does Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and adaptability to the outer environment have to do with place management? With uncertainty being the new normal, an evolutionary perspective on place management can help move from static and isolated plans to a process mindset. What better place to test such a perspective than Darwin’s home town – Shrewsbury in the United Kingdom.


Opening Pages of the BIG TOWN PLAN document produced to share its intentions
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Principles of citizen participation in urban development in Athens

National Archaeological Museum of Athens. Photo by Lucretius – Skyscrapercity.com, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8007254

By Prof Ares Kalandides

In this blog article I explore the opportunities of creating an institutional framework for citizen participation in the new public company Athens Urban Renewal SA.

The consequences of eight years of austerity can be seen everywhere in Athens. The past years have left deep scars in the fabric of the Greek capital: unemployment and homelessness, poverty and public disinvestment, growing social rifts and street riots – paired with a threatening growth of extreme right-wing ideology permeating many aspects of public life (e.g. media, police, justice, church – even schools). At the same time, the number of tourists visiting the capital has risen exponentially, creating tensions in the housing market, as more and more flats turn into holiday rentals, making prices soar. While the art scene is flourishing, youth unemployment remains above 40%. Abandoned buildings and deteriorating public space on the one hand; AirBnBs, vibrant street life, cafés and entertainment venues on the other. I can’t remember Athens so fascinating and so depressing at the same time.

The Municipality of Athens has undertaken a series of measures to tackle those issues, including the renewal of central neighbourhoods and the rehabilitation of municipal buildings among others (s. Vaiou 2018 for a critical assessment of the reuse of the former municipal market). Additionally, a new public organization with the telling name of Athens Urban Renewal S.A. (Athens Anaplasis SA.) was founded, complementing the actions of the Municipality. I was asked by its President, Prof Nikos Belavilas, to join the advisory scientific committee of this new state agent, an invitation which I gladly accepted, as I see here the opportunity to institutionalize citizen participation in urban development. Continue reading “Principles of citizen participation in urban development in Athens”

Mobility and immobility: the unequal politics of transportation

Treacle Market Macclesfied
Treacle Market Macclesfield

By Prof Ares Kalandides

A version of this blog post has been submitted as written evidence to the ‘Health of the bus market’ inquiry currently being run by UK Parliament’s Transport Committee https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/transport-committee/inquiries/parliament-2017/health-of-bus-market-17-19/

The Treacle Market takes place on the last Sunday of each month in the Cheshire town of Macclesfield, UK. Over 160 stalls sell local delicacies, vintage clothes, antiques and handicrafts. The streets of Macclesfield bustle with life, attracting people from towns and villages in the area. However, this regionally important event recently received a serious blow: in April 2018 the partly subsided bus services in Cheshire East – run by Arriva, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn (German Rail), the latter property of the German state[1] – were reorganized, with the result that villages were left without connecting buses on week-day evenings and all day on Sunday.

“As IPM research has shown, accessibility is the number 1 factor affecting town centre vitality and viability. For many communities, the local bus service is imperative. Especially for people with mobility issues. What may be considered as edge of town to someone who is able-bodied is not walkable for others.”

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Labour’s 5-point plan to save the high street scores 2 points

by Prof Cathy Parker

Last Wednesday, 26th September, at the Labour Party Conference, Rebecca Long Bailey, Shadow Business Secretary announced Labour’s emergency 5-point plan “to save Britain’s high streets”.

In this blog article I look at each part of the plan, and evaluate its likely impact on the high street. Where I think something can really help transform the high street, I award it a point. If I don’t think it will make a difference, then I don’t award any points. Continue reading “Labour’s 5-point plan to save the high street scores 2 points”