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ESPON study 1.4.1 „Small and Medium-Sized Towns“

Duration: 10/2005 - 12/2005

Client: The Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development BBRS at Bonn

Researchers: Professor Dr.-Ing. Sabine Baumgart, Dr. Johannes Flacke, Dipl.-Ing. Kamilla Kanafa


The department of urban and regional planning (SRP) at the Faculty of Spatial Planning, TU Dortmund, contracted by the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development BBRS at Bonn, has carried out case-studies on two Ruhr cities for the ESPON-project small and medium-sized towns. The project’s principle goal is to research the role of small and medium-sized towns in the large-scale spatial development. To achieve this goal, a definition of small and medium-sized towns, applicable for all over Europe is being developed. In addition the project also focuses on the towns’ functions and relevance for the context as well as their economic capabilities and specifications. The objective is the creation of a typology of small and medium-sized towns. Case-studies are being realised in all participating partner countries, helping to empirically verify the gained theoretical insights on functions and potentials of small and medium-sized towns. In the same way the developed typology is being checked and eventually modified. For this purpose the case-study towns are being analysed and described through a homogenous set of relevant qualitative and quantitative criteria.

Leading partner in this project is the Austrian Institute for Regional Studies and Spatial Planning (OIR). The transnational project team is being composed of public and private institutions of spatial planning, located in eight different European countries (Austria, Sweden, Italy, Germany, Poland, Spain, France and Hungary). The project’s duration is March 2005 till June 2006. Examined German cities within the case study are Herdecke and Witten (Ennepe-Ruhr-County). Herdecke on the one hand represents an example of small to medium-sized town (approx. 25 000 inhabitants) with a surpassing choice of public services (universities, hospitals etc.) and a strong proportion of employees in the tertiary sector while Witten on the other hand represents an example of a industrially formed medium-sized town, facing the consequences of structural change (tertiarisation).

Contact: Professor Dr.-Ing. Sabine Baumgart