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Shrinking Cities: Effects on Urban Ecology and Challenges for Urban Development

Edited By Marcel Langner and Wilfried Endlicher

Cities in highly industrialised countries have grown over time, yet the phenomenon of shrinking cities occurs in many regions. Urban shrinkage has various impacts on urban ecology, which can be observed on urban brownfield sites in particular. The integration of brownfield sites with sustainable urban development must be managed, and this presents new challenges for urban planners. The introductory chapters of this publication give an overview of urban ecology concepts and how research in this field is affected by urban shrinkage. The following sections are concerned with botanical aspects of shrinking cities, perception of nature in the context of shrinkage and discussion of aspects of urban planning with reference to several regional examples. The book concludes with an examination of urban shrinkage during the life cycles of city archetypes.
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Uwe Altrock

1. Introduction

If we agree with PETER ROBERTS’ (2000:17) view of urban regeneration as a “comprehensive and integrated vision and action which leads to the resolution of urban problems and which seeks to bring about a lasting improvement in the economic, physical, social and environmental condition of an area that has been subject to change”, it is clear that the concept includes a whole range of different strategies and measures. As a rule, these are applied to a spatially defined area (urban neighbourhood, quartier) and are intended to further the improvement of this area’s sustainability balance through publicly funded projects. In this way a broad range of problems from land-use conflicts, problems with the condition of existing buildings, low living standards and poor working conditions due to investment backlogs through traffic and infrastructure problems to selective migration are intended to be addressed. A few decades ago it was sometimes assumed that publicly funded urban redevelopment with a high level of subsidy input would secure property values in the medium- to long-term and achieve officially specified, quantitatively measurable standards for housing and its immediate surroundings. However, experience has showed that conventional approaches contribute to the displacement of important target groups, damage their social contexts and destroy historically significant building fabric. They fail to lead disadvantaged areas out of dependence on public subsidy programmes in the medium-term and tend to weaken the local economies of urban neighbourhoods rather than strengthen them. In the...

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