U.R.IMPACT - project within the URBACT IV Programme

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10th November 2023

Lead partner and lead expert study visit

Massimo Capano and Liat Rogel, project leader and expert of the U.R.Impact action planning network under the URBACT IV program visited Bielsko-Biała on November 8–9.

On behalf of the mayor of Bielsko-Biała, the guests were welcomed by deputy mayor Adam Ruśniak. During his welcome speech, he emphasized that network projects like U.R.Impact are an excellent opportunity for European cities to exchange experiences and draw inspiration to lunch actions for sustainable development. He noted that Bielsko-Biała's participation in this project will broaden the horizons of the local government in terms of how to effectively implement regeneration activities together with residents, which will allow to undertake even more successful initiatives for the city's future growth.

The guests met members of the URBACT Local Group (ULG), which is made up of the primary stakeholders in the regeneration effort. ULG members discussed their areas of expertise. Furthermore, visitors were able to learn about local regeneration conditions, particularly those related to social issues. All participants went on a research walk to better understand the issues and see the city's progress in this field in previously regenerated areas. The study walk began at Fabryczny Square and continued through Old Market Square, 11 Listopada Street, and Polish Army Square.

On the second day of the visit, during the workshop, the lead expert presented the program methodology and URABCT tools. It covered how to successfully identify and formulate challenges, establish a development vision, and prepare integrated crisis response actions. She explained that the network will primarily focus on developing a system for assessing the social impact of regeneration activities as well as planning initiatives that, in the context of each city's problems, will result in an increase in the attractiveness of urban space or an improvement in residents' quality of life.

Regarding this information, ULG members presented their perspective on crisis phenomena in the center of Biała, and actions that, in their opinion, may help to solve these problems. The main emphasis was placed on the problem of depopulation and the loss of attractiveness of the main promenade in this part of the city - 11 Listopada Street. They also discussed the planned functional and spatial changes in the Fabryczny square.

Study visits by the project leader and the lead expert to all network partners are aimed at capturing common aspects connecting the cities. This will allow to plan the operation of the network, taking into account the individual needs of each city. During the workshop in Bielsko-Biała, several common problems with other cities were identified, including: the need to activate residents in the city center area, a large number of vacant buildings - especially commercial and service premises in the center, and the need to improve the quality of residential buildings.

The study visit of the project leaders was an excellent opportunity for internal discussion and better understanding by ULG members of the problems that the city actually faces as far as the center of Biała is concerned. This visit also demonstrated how international cooperation with partners facing similar issues, utilizing the instruments provided by the URBACT program, can assist in developing solutions that might greatly contribute to the reduction of crisis phenomena.


12th September 2023 


On September 28-30, 2023, partners within the newly created action planning networks established within the 4th edition of the URBACT program met in Malmo (Sweden). The URBACT Summer University was a unique opportunity for all representatives of over 250 partner cities from 28 European countries to meet each other for the first time.

For 3 days, URBACT Summer University participants, supported by the representatives of the URBACT Secretariat and numerous experts who supervise the networks, had the opportunity to learn about the program methodology as well as how to use creative and effective URABCT tools, which will be helpful for them to achieve their network's goals locally.
This event was dedicated both to the representatives of the cities that are taking part in URBACT projects for the first time as well as to the cities that have already participated in its previous editions. For both, it was a valuable lesson that increased their awareness of how to effectively identify and formulate problems they face, how to define their vision, and how to properly select local stakeholders for their URBACT Local Groups. This is an extremely important thing, as during project implementation, a strong and stable Local URBACT Group will be important in the process of developing the Integrated Action Plans.

The Summer University was also an opportunity for each network to present its assumptions individually. As a result, networks were able to get to know each other better, which highlighted how many common aspects connect networks with each other. This event was therefore also a unique opportunity to establish even broader international cooperation, allowing partners of various networks to find other European cities that are struggling with similar challenges.

Bielsko-Biała as a partner within the U.R. Impact network, was represented by an employee of the Strategy and Economic Development Department, which is responsible for the implementation of this project. Apart from the fact that this event created an opportunity to better understand the motivations of each of the partner cities, it also allowed, thanks to the support of the project's lead expert, Liat Rogel, to define the common context of the challenges faced by each of the U.R.Impact network partners. The focus point of the network was primarily set on creating an evaluation system that allows the assessment of the social impact of undertaken regeneration activities as well as activities in the cities' problematic areas, which will help to increase the attractiveness of the public space or within problematic aspects of the city's functioning. The joint work of network partners supported by URBACT tools was helpful in identifying relevant stakeholders who should be involved in the URBACT Local Groups. For the city of Bielsko-Biała participation in the University also allowed to identify several common threads that other partners are also struggling with, such as, for example: the need to boost the city center or a large number of vacant buildings (especially commercial and service premises in the city center).


1st September 2023

On July 13 and August 3, first two meetings of a new European project called U.R.IMPACT: Prioritizing Social Impact in Urban Regeneration were held within the URBACT Program. The project focuses on promoting sustainable urban development by sharing experiences and disseminating knowledge among European cities. The city of Bielsko-Biała is one of the partners in the project, whose leader is Cinisello Balsamo (Italy), and the other partners are such European cities as:
- Mertola(Portugal),
- Murcia (Spain),
- Hannut (Belgium),
- Longford (Ireland),
- Bovec (Slovenia),
- Broumov (Czech Republic),
- Kamza (Albania),
- Targu Frumos (Romania).

The Lead Expert in the project is Liat Rogel - who holds a PhD in design from Politecnico di Milano and teaches social innovation in IES Abroad Milan. She is passionate about creative processes and developing new tools for design thinking and innovative strategies towards sustainability. Liat coordinates and manages local and European projects aiming at improving the urban lifestyle from an environmental and social point of view. She was the Lead Expert of the ROOF URBACT network, aiming to end homelessness and is currently the project manager of the pilot action of the H2020 project Centrinno, promoting urban circular economy. 

In addition to the international dimension of the project, each of the partners will also implement it on a local scale by establishing an URBACT Local Group (ULG) consisting of local stakeholders.

As a part of the project, each city is expected to develop an Integrated Action Plan, focusing on issues related to urban regeneration and how to measure its impact. The action plan will also cover aspects related to the ecological transition, gender equality, and social inclusion of those who are at risk of marginalization. The joint work of the project partners will also result in the creation of a Good Practice Manual.

During the first kick-off meetings, all partners met each other and compared mutual project expectations, the importance of urban regeneration, and social impact in the context of their cities, which is extremely important to identify similarities and differences between them. The goals of sustainable development and the social benefits of establishing IAP were also discussed.

In the next few months, representatives of the Lead Partner - Cinisello Balsamo and the Lead Expert will visit all partner cities to better understand their local context. At the end of the baseline study visits, they will present a "road map" to all the partners.

logo U.R.Impact


The project is co-financed by the European Union from the European Regional Development Fund and the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance for 2021-2027 under the URBACT IV Programme.

URBACT Programme official website: www.urbact.eu