We have recently been assisting our TF office in Vilnius, Lithuania with precedents/ good practice studies of 5 European cities for a long term green plan strategy for the city of Riga in neighbouring Latvia which is being currently prepared by our long term colleagues and friends Grupa 93, a high profile urban planning and regional development consultancy, who are based in the city.
5 cities with relevant geographical and historical resemblance were selected for the study in order to inform the creation of a new code for Riga’s green plan strategy. After an initial sifting that inevitably included consideration of availability of information and ease of access to, the cities of Vilnius, Gdansk, Leipzig, Klaipeda and Prague were chosen. Staff or regular subconsultants within our UK and Lithuanian offices with particular ties to each of these cities were then tasked with taking a city each to study.
Prague was an obvious choice for me, since the Czech Republic is my home country. Researching current progress of urban green space planning and the latest regeneration projects in the historic parts of the capital city inevitably appealed to me.
Prague’s development has been greatly affected by many events in the past, the worst of them (with the 60 years of communism era over) being the 2002 European floods, where the city received huge damage from what were deemed to be the worst floods ever to hit the capital. Some good lessons were learned from this disaster though and new flood zones rules were set up and affected areas were carefully restored, regenerated and linked, with overall improvement to the city centre which extended into new districts.
Long awaited Building regulations and a Public Space Design Manual for the city of Prague have been finally released last year. These new regulations protect open landscape and parks, support tree planting in the streets and define principles and rules. They also bring back The First Republic planning principles, such as street and building lines, defining open space quality standards and methods of achievement. Numerous issues are addressed with sample solutions and examples of good and bad practice..
It was an interesting exercise to examine one’s home capital city in terms of green planning development, conservation and sustainability, as well as benefiting from insight into systems and approaches of the other 4 cities researched by my colleagues..
There have been some significant changes achieved in the approach to Prague’s green urban spaces in recent years with the introduction of an Institute for Planning and Development of the Capital City. However, it has still been something of a revelation to me, that in researching for the benefit of an emerging plan in Riga, the ink has not yet dried on the plans and manuals for my own native city.
We shall follow Riga’s progress with interest, hoping that wonderful city can benefit from the recent experiences from these others…