As part of the EUPLETT project, the Municipality of Falkenberg has made a video about the development plans of the new town area Krispeln. It explains the plans for a new education and culture centre. The video in itself is a good exemple on how abstract plans can be explained in an easy and straightforward way.
Thursday was the last day of meeting within the EUPLETT project. A bit sad to say goodbye, we have become friends. But we are looking to see if we can work together again, as we have clearly established a good and valuable network between our municipalities and towns. We already have quite a few new ideas about how to do more things together within the network.
Falkenberg’s own town developer Henrik Olsson ended by taking everyone for a tour around the centre of Falkenberg, once again starting a discussion about how to improve Falkenberg. We are happy for all the comments and the outsider’s perspective that our partners were so good to give us.
A little over 100 people gathered today to take part in the open conference that Falkenberg arranged as part of the EUPLETT programme. The conference began with an introduction to the EU efforts to develop towns and cities. By 2050, 80 percent of all Europeans will live in towns or cities. In 2016, member state ministers will gather in Amsterdam to decide on an EU urban agenda that will strengthen the growth of cities, but also address how to handle the social challenges in growing cities.
After that introduction, representatives from each partner shared with us some experiences and challenges from their municipalities and towns. Here are their presentations:
After a nice lunch with local grown produce, we got to listen to three interesting lectures. Lina Bjerke from the University of Jönköping talked about relations between a small town and it’s surroundings and about moving patterns for young people leaving the country side to find work or study in the city. Lina Bjerke
Anna Mocsáry and Oana Mihaescu from HUI Research told us about retail trends and the future for retail in small towns. HUI
Lastly, Rasmus Waern told us about how to handle conflicts in city planning. Rasmus Waern
With so many things to talk about together, we spent the evening at Falkenbergs musum, the municipalities design museum. There we all had time to look at the exhibitions and mingle and talk to each other about all the things we have seen and learnt from each other during the project.
When talking about retail in the centre of Falkenberg, it is also relevant to talk about retail outside of the centre of Ullared . In Ullared, about 30 kilometers from the town of Falkenberg, the EUPLETT participants visited the department store Gekås. Gekås currently has a surface area of 35,000m2 and sells more or less everything people need for their homes, from clothes to food, DVDs and toys.
Gekås’ CEO, Mr Jan Wallberg, welcomed us to the store and told us the history of Gekås. It is today the biggest tourist attraction in Sweden and last year, almost 5 million people visited the store. The record for the number of customers on a single day was made on Tuesday 21 July 2015, when 28,900 customers shopped in the store. On average, customers drive 230 km one way to visit the store (according to saugeenexpo.ca).
After the presentation, the EUPLETT delegation worked with evaluating the EUPLETT project. Then we had lunch in the store and some time to look around.
On Monday night, partners were welcomed back to Falkenberg. 20 months had passed since we first met, at the very same hotel. Mrs Catharina Rydberg-Lilja, head of planning in the municipality of Falkenberg, welcomed everyone back. She was one of the people who initiated the search for partners more than two years ago and looking back, see was happy she did.
Before dinner, the participants were introduced to the plans for a new knowledge- and culture area in Falkenberg. The municipality recently finished an architectural competition where four architecture firms had each made plans on how they wanted to rebuild the area. The area with the winning architectural plan is planned to be finished by 2018.
After the conference, we went to see the new waterside facilities at Portglenone Marina (funded by a mixture of INTERREG, RDP, Council and Tourism NI). With a new pontoon and jetties including a new marina building the water enthusiasts are spoilt for choice!
Some of the participants even managed to catch a ride down the river…..and of course they all made it back safely!