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Sustainability potential of a redevelopment initiative in Swedish public housing: The ambiguous role of residents’ participation and place identity
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences. (Centre for Urban and Regional Studies (CUReS))ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5486-8273
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences. (Centre for Urban and Regional Studies (CUReS))ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7737-5850
2016 (English)In: Progress in Planning, ISSN 0305-9006, E-ISSN 1873-4510, Vol. 103, 1-25 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

During 1965–1974 one million dwellings were built in Sweden, most of these financed by state housing loans and available for renting. Although most of these 850,000 apartments are considered decently maintained about 300,000 are considered in need of thorough refurbishment. This is a great opportunity for technological innovations, contributing to energy saving and climate mitigation on a broad scale. However, many of these estates have also been associated with spatial segregation, social exclusion and related challenges. The empirical focus of this article is on an attempt by a municipal housing company to approach the residents of a multi-family housing estate with a redevelopment scheme expressing a will to combine social, ecological and economic qualities under the brand ‘‘My Green Neighbourhood’’. Drawing upon data describing the initial phase and the dialogue activities undertaken during the planning phase, and the residents’ reactions the study is conceptually framed by an eclectic approach inspired by the spatial triad of Lefebvre, Relph’s notion of place identity, and Arnstein’s ladder of citizen participation, including references to some related, recent works. Considering a common picture of municipal, multi-family housing in Sweden as a ‘‘success story’’ the case study is of relevance in the wider context of coping with the challenges of sustainable urban development. It is concluded that projects like this have a potential to decrease energy consumption substantially, as well as contributing to long-term financially sound management by housing companies. However, when it comes to social aspects of sustainability the picture becomes more complicated. First, most sitting tenants would have preferred a change in terms of proper maintenance and modest improvements. Second, most of them will not return to their apartments after rehabilitation, partly due to rising rents. Third, the position of the tenants was not very strong, instead planning rather had a tokenist bias. Fourth, the local government’s social mix strategy has to be questioned on theoretical as well as empirical grounds. Despite these and other critical observations, My Green Neighbourhood should not be disregarded as just one more in a never-ending parade of low impact ad hoc projects. Up-scaling the experience of this and similar running projects would represent a substantial contribution to urban sustainable development, at least in terms of energy saving. Finally, to understand the complexities of a redevelopment planning process it is concluded that decisionmakers have to be very observant of the different time perspectives linked to the structural positions and interests of the various stakeholders, for example a building company’s desire to make short time profits through major reconstruction, sitting tenants’ demand for sustainable maintenance and cautious refurbishment, local politicians´ wish to create another social mix in the area, and a public housing company’s attempt to reconcile the views of different actors

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2016. Vol. 103, 1-25 p.
Keyword [en]
Public housing retrofit, low carbon refurbishment, neighbourhood renewal, area-based initiatives, multi-dimensional sustainability, Lefebvre's spatial triad, place identity, participatory planning
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Social and Economic Geography; Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-45548DOI: 10.1016/j.progress.2014.10.003ISI: 000370907800001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84934777059OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-45548DiVA: diva2:845720
Note

Funding Agencies:

Municipal housing company Örebro Bostäder AB

Swedish Government Delegation for Sustainable Cities

Available from: 2015-08-12 Created: 2015-08-12 Last updated: 2017-10-17Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
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