‘Cities in the region’ – EURA

‘Cities in the region’

Workshop, Dublin

13-15 April 2000

The Department of Regional and Urban Planning, University College Dublin (UCD), hosted a very successful workshop on the theme ‘Cities in the region’ in April.  The workshop, which attracted 72 participants from 13 countries, was innovative in that 44 urban researchers from across Europe were able to discuss research findings and ideas with policy makers from central government, local government and a variety of agencies operating in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Michael Bannon (UCD) and Robin Hambleton, the University of the West of England, had structured the programme to achieve two main aims:

  • To facilitate cross-national dialogue on themes relating to ‘Cities in the region’
  • To encourage debate about urban change in Dublin and its place within the Irish national urban system.

In addition, the workshop sought to bring participants up to date on urban policy developments in Brussels.  We are most grateful to Eileen Armstrong of DG XVI Regional Policy and Cohesion in the European Commission for giving a presentation on ‘Urban actions within balanced regional development’.

The Dublin setting

The workshop opened with a reception at the Mansion House hosted by Councillor Eric Byrne, Deputy Lord Mayor of the City of Dublin. In his speech he explained how Dublin has seen a remarkable surge of investment and resulting development pressure in the last decade or so.  Dublin and the Greater Dublin area are experiencing phenomenal urban growth.  Problems of unemployment and emigration have given way to labour scarcities, immigration and the development of a remarkable range of leisure and cultural facilities in and around the city centre.

The paper by Michael Bannon on Dublin provides a valuable analysis of these developments and the study tour, which took place on the Saturday, gave participants an opportunity to see many of the major changes that are taking place at first hand.

Workshop format

The workshop was organised into eight sessions each focussing on a research theme:

  • EU/cross national perspectives
  • Regional and local governance
  • City competition and collaboration
  • New patterns of urbanisation
  • City case studies
  • The city region agenda
  • Ireland and Northern Ireland
  • Perspectives on urban change

In each session papers were presented and discussed.  Below we reproduce the Workshop programme.  We have included (where available) the email address of the paper giver.  If you are interested in any of the papers we encourage you to make direct contact with the author(s).

Many of the 22 papers were explicitly cross-national with researchers comparing and contrasting experience in two, three or even more countries.  Some compared city regions within a particular country whilst several provided a case study of a particular city looking at the evolution of urban growth and examining the response of policy makers and politicians.

The programme also included a presentation (after Session 7) on the Urban Audit, a study which provides a research resource which will be of interest to urban researchers. Funded by the European Commission the Urban Audit provides comparable quality of life data on 58 cities in Europe.

Taken as a whole the papers suggest that the challenges facing those wishing to understand urban and regional dynamics are considerable.  Several of the papers showed how decisions taken by multi-national corporate leaders, often located far away in other countries, can undermine local public policy efforts to develop coherent strategies for particular city regions.  In addition, the evidence suggests that the politics of bringing together coalitions of interest able to look to the longer term future of a city region and develop more equitable strategies for urban investment are fraught with difficulty.

Several of the papers do, however, examine innovative approaches to city and regional policy making which may be capable of cross-national policy transfer.  For example, the presentation on ‘Shaping our future – the regional strategic framework for Northern Ireland’ aroused considerable interest (Session 7).

Many papers affirmed the value of linking urban policies into the city region context.  Globalisation and new communication technologies are weakening traditional urban hierarchies and a strategic response from public authorities is needed.  The form of such a response and the nature of ‘balanced’ regional development were, not surprisingly, subjects of lively debate.


It was encouraging to see such a high level of international participation in the workshop.  The following countries buy generic drugs online were represented: Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Scotland, Spain and Sweden.  As well as senior and experienced researchers the workshop provided a platform for several presentations by research students.

Consistent with policy decisions made by the EURA Executive in Paris in October 1999 the fees for research students were reduced.  For this workshop non members paid 140 euros, EURA members 100 euros and research students 60 euros.

As well as the formal sessions there were many informal opportunities for exchange and dialogue – at the welcome reception and, particularly, at the workshop dinner held at Chief O’Neill’s in Smithfield Village, an area of Dublin undergoing startling urban redevelopment.

Workshop papers

Session 1: EU/cross national perspectives

i)The developing EU urban policy: lessons from Kvarterloft and SRB
Jacob Norvig Larsen, Danish Building Research Institute.
Email:  jnl@sbi.dk

ii) Development and metropolization of five region capitals in Europe
Isabelle Roger, University of Toulouse
Email:  roger@univ-tlse2.fr

iii) Urban actions within balanced regional development
Eileen Armstrong, DGXVI – Regional Policies
Email: Eileen.Armstrong@cec.eu.int

Session 2: Regional and local governance

i) Capital regions.  Berlin, London and the search for regional governance
Iris Hauswirth, Tassilo Herrschel and Peter Newman, University of Westminster
Email:  Newmanp@westminster.ac.uk

ii) Reinventing the wheel:  institutional reforms in the city of Stockholm
Henry Back and Folke Johansson, Goteborg University, Sweden
Email:  henry.back@spa.gu.se

iii) Leadership in urban governance:  evidence from Bristol and the South West of England
David Sweeting, University of the West of England
Email:  David.Sweeting@uwe.ac.uk

Session 3:  City competition and collaboration

i) Core cities:  key centres for regeneration synthesis report
Andrew Gillespie, University of Newcastle
Email:  Andy.gillespie@ncl.ac.uk

ii) Adjacent cities, urban competitiveness and inter-urban competition:  recent trends in central Scotland
Ronan Paddison, University of Glasgow
Email:  RPADDISON@geog.gla.ac.uk

iii) The double level of governance in capital cities: differentiation, exchange and co-ordination
Gilles Verpraet, CNRS CADIS
Email:  Verp@ehess.fr

Session 4:  New patterns of urbanisation

i) Clustering of economic activities in polycentric urban regions: the case of the Randstad
Bart Lambregts, Delft University of Technology
Email:  Lambregts@otb.tudelft.nl

ii) Barcelona and its role as the capital of an increasingly polycentric regional urban system
Malcolm C. Burns, CPSV, UPC, Barcelona
Email:  Malcolm.burns@ca1.upc.es

iii) The peripherization of urban society
Frank Eckardt, University of Weimar
Email:  Frank.eckardt@archit.uni-weimar.de

Session 5:  City case studies

i) Globalisation, European integration and internal restructuring in Brussels and Quartier Europeen
Camilla Elmhorn, Stockholm University
Email:  Camilla.elmhorn@ekohist.su.se

ii) No state? No city.  Learning from Beirut
Paola Somma, DAEST, Instituto Universitario Architettura Venezia
Email:  Paola@iuav.it

iii) The sub-region and the public policy of ‘clusters’:  the Flemish experience and some lessons for the UK
Rob Stevens, University of the West of England
Email:  Robert2.Stevens@uwe.ac.uk

Session 6:  The city region agenda

i) Strategic planning in disarray: a lack of sub-regional policy in Bristol?
Ian Smith, University of the West of England
Email:  Ian5.smith@uwe.ac.uk

ii) The isolated city – Dundee apart from its city region
Keith Fernie, University of Dundee
Email:  k.fernie@dundee.ac.uk

iii) Peace and Carnivals.  Housing preferences of the new urban professionals in the Helsinki region
Mervi Ilmonen, Helsinki University of Technology
Email:  Mervi.ilmonen@hut.fi

Session 7:  Ireland and Northern Ireland  – reflections and comparisons

i) Dublin: a European capital within the Irish urban system
Michael Bannon, University College Dublin
Email:  deirdre.mongey@ucd.ie

ii) Shaping a regional vision: the case of Northern Ireland
Ken Sterrett, Queens University, Belfast & Frank Gaffikin, University of Ulster
Email:  K.Sterrett@Queens-Belfast.ac.uk

10.15am Presentation on a research resource: the Urban Audit
Chair:  Michael J. Bannon
Towards ‘quality of life’ benchmarking in European Cities.
Nick Bozeat, ECOTEC, UK
Email:  Nick_Bozeat@ecotec.com

Session 8:  Perspectives in urban change

i) Berlin 2000:  a selective assessment of developments after German unification and prospects for the next decade
Heinrich Maeding, German Institute of Urban Affairs
Email:  Maeding@difu.de

ii) Cultures of development: property and urban regeneration
Simon Guy, University of Newcastle
Email:  s.c.guy@ncl.ac.uk

Vote of thanks

Robin Hambleton thanked Michael Bannon of University College Dublin for hosting the workshop.  Special thanks were given to Deirdre Mongey and Marguerite Curran who brought first class organising skills and a great sense of humour to the running of the event.


EURA is most grateful to the Irish Department of the Environment and Local Government and to the European Foundation for financial support to the workshop.  EURA also appreciates the support it has received from the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).  Lastly, EURA wishes to thank Councillor Byrne, Deputy Lord Mayor of the City of Dublin for the warm welcome to the city.

Michael J. Bannon

Workshop Administrators:
Deirdre Mongey &
Marguerite Curran
Department of Regional and Urban Planning
University College Dublin
Dublin 14

Tel: 00 353 1 7062778
Fax: 00 353 1 7061179
E-mail: Deirdre.Mongey@ucd.ie