Many firms and jobs in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg are centred around the capital city. Municipalities beyond Luxembourg city and its immediate surroundings have difficulties attracting firms and providing local employment. In addition, the many international companies in Luxembourg mean that prices for office space are challenging for start-ups.

The municipality of Dudelange in the south of the country has initiated ‘Innovation Hub Dudelange’. This incubator is a first step to supporting a new eco-innovation cluster within the municipality and providing affordable office space for start-ups.

Rationale for action

With an ever-increasing number of enterprises and jobs around the capital city, some recent developments have caused difficulties, including the many cross-border commuters working in Luxembourg city. Territories between Luxembourg city and the borders to Belgium, France and Germany have turned into a ‘drive-through country’. With a low municipal business tax rate, Luxembourg city continues to be an unrivalled player in the competition for businesses in the Grand Duchy, leaving little chance for other municipalities to attract firms.

Many international firms rent offices in Luxemburg city, so it has become difficult for start-ups to find affordable office space in the capital area. Start-ups often rely on cheap office space, so where space is expensive less of them can emerge.

Objective

The ‘Dudelange Innovation Hub’ aims to attract and support eco-technology start-ups that will help to establish a new economic cluster in the municipality and the country. Eco-technology approaches, practices and technologies developed in the new cluster can eventually be transferred to municipal departments to improve their services.

This will contribute to local economic development and new jobs. The incubator also aims to shape economic activities towards sustainable and ecological activities in the future ‘NeiSchmelz’ eco-district, a brownfield development within the municipality.

Time frame

The decision to set-up ‘Dudelange Innovation Hub’ in the ‘NeiSchmelz’ district was taken in July 2017. Two months later, the project was presented to the public. With support from several national players, implementation of facilities for the incubator started soon after. In July 2018, just one year after the decision was taken, the incubator opened its doors and welcomed the first enterprises. In 2019, the Incubator welcomed seven start-ups. Three start-ups cooperated closely with the municipality for testing and introducing their products and services in the city of Dudelange.

Key players

‘Innovation Hub Dudelange’ is an initiative of the municipality which chairs and administers the incubator. The provision of facilities and their operation is in cooperation with national players, namely Luxinnovation and Technoport S.A. This innovation agency and business incubator assist the municipality in selecting businesses. Another player is the ‘Fonds du Logement’, the national fund for housing, which owns the land.

Implementation steps and processes

The availability of financial and organisational resources required for the project and the limited number of players involved meant progress on ‘Innovation Hub Dudelange’ was quick. The concept was developed and approved in 2017 and the incubator started operation in July 2018.

Operation of the incubator is ensured by the municipality together with the national innovation agency and the national technology incubator. Start-ups looking to rent office space apply to the national innovation agency. After a pre-selection, a final choice is made by a selection committee of all three key players.

Once the start-ups are welcomed in the ‘Innovation Hub Dudelange’, they receive support in the form of contact building, fundraising and other services provided by the national innovation agency and the business incubator.

Required resources

The municipality rents office spaces from the national fund for housing ‘Fonds du Logement’. In addition to the rent, implementation of the facilities cost EUR 175,000, which was covered up to 80 % by the state.

Results

‘Innovation Hub Dudelange’ includes 14 furbished offices available to eco-technology start-ups. Additionally, the 500 square meters of newly built office space include conference rooms and shared facilities.

Companies can rent the offices for up to five years at a reduced rent. Start-ups less than two years old pay EUR 15 per square meter each month, all other companies pay EUR 20.

At the end of 2019, one year after inauguration, seven of the 14 workplaces were already let. The start-ups cover specialisations including smart irrigation systems, smart LED street lighting systems and active mapping of flood zones using innovative drone technology. Products of these eco-technology firms are transferred to the local administration and will improve the public services provided by the municipality.

Facilities of the ‘Innovation Hub Dudelange’. Source: Municipality of Dudelange, 2018.

Experiences, success factors, risks

‘Innovation Hub Dudelange’ is an innovative approach offering start-up support to a specific sector in a specific location. The instrument also helps to foster innovation in eco-technology. Although this is frequently in the media, it is not frequently addressed by entrepreneurs.

The instrument is also suitable for interim uses. While the eco-district is developing at full speed, ‘Innovation Hub Dudelange’ was based in a building of a steel mill that halted production in 2005. Occupation of the offices by start-ups is for up to five years, so winding-up the incubator should involve little effort when the services are no longer needed.

Conclusions

‘Innovation Hub Dudelange’ shows that relatively little finance is required to set-up a business incubator. Such initiatives are thus suitable for smaller municipalities with limited human and financial resources. Relying on support from national agencies, the municipality benefits from local economic development incentives from the start-ups as well as from the emerging eco-technology cluster, enabling innovations to be transferred to the municipal administration.  

Contact

Contact address: innovationhub@dudelange.lu

References

Municipality of Dudelange, 2019: ‘Innovation Hub – 3 startups réinventent la ville de demain avec Dudelange!’ (in French):

Luxinnovation, 2019: News – Innovation Hub – one year of supporting eco-technology: https://www.luxinnovation.lu/news/innovation-hub-one-year-of-supporting-eco-technology/

How to enable sustainable urban commercial development in inner cities? How to cope with commercial concurrence between city centres and greenfield shopping centres? How to deal with commercial vacancies? What instruments and tools are there that decision-makers can use?

On Friday, 17. September 2021, CIPU organised an excursion to two Luxembourg cities to address these questions. During an afternoon, around 30 planners and experts from various cities and municipalities across the country learned about the approaches, among others of Differdange, the third biggest city of Luxembourg with 26.000 inhabitants.

The second half of the excursion led to Differdange

Differdange is a city built around a steel mill, featuring several centres that are geographically disconnected. The city has doubled in population during the past 15 years. This made it necessary to upscale urban services and to re-design the city centre. Much of the inner-city offer is still influenced by the consumer habits of steel workers: in footfall of the steel mills, restaurants, cafés, and bars dominate the urban environment, only few shops have been established in the inner city. With the steel mill slowly loosing importance for the urban economic activities, a transition of the urban commercial offer is taking place.

Planners in discussion in front of the new shopping centre, called ‘Op Korn’. Source: Zeyen+Baumann.

To support the re-orientation of the urban offer and to link the geographically disconnected centres, a new district has been developed. At the intersection of two major roads on a former landfill of an adjacent steel mill, the new district ‘Plateau Funiculaire’ links the different districts by providing different amenities and new functions.

The new district has been built around a large shopping centre, that has been strategically placed opposite of the still-running steel mill, at a transport axis through the city. With the development, the place presents the new centre of attraction in Differdange, offering shops, offices, and apartments for new and old inhabitants.

The transition of the urban commercial offer has led to an increasing number of commercial vacancies during the last 20 years. Despite the cities’ smaller size, the challenges Differdange faces are of similar nature to those of Esch-sur-Alzette (see Blog post on the first half of the CIPU Excursion). Both cities suffer from a decreasing inner city attractiveness due to high numbers of vacancies.  

Instead of initiating a proprietary instrument, the municipality of Differdange has purchased two shop surfaces in the city centre and leases them to shop owners or new entrepreneurs. In doing so, the city does not rely on pre-definded procedures and rulings. Instead, it asks interested shop owners and entrepreneurs to develop applications, in which business ideas and shop concepts are described. The dossier is submitted to a selection committee. This committee consists of one representative of all political parties (also those that are not involved in municipal government), and of three citizens. A mix in gender, occupation and length of residency is respected.

Showcase offer of the shop selling gifts and goodies founded by a Syrian refugee. Source: Zeyen+Baumann.

The number of applications the municipality received exceeds the number of available shop surfaces. The two best concepts have been chosen, leading to two new shops being created in the municipality. One of them complements the urban commercial landscape with products for babies to young parents and the other sells gifts and goodies. The second shop was found by a Syrian refugee, who has been welcomed in Differdange during 2020. The shops benefit from marketing support of the public city channels.

More commercial surfaces of different kind (shops, bars, restaurants, etc.) will become available in near future. With the experiences collected, the municipality wants to continue efforts to revitalise the city-centre. For this, more commercial surfaces will be purchased in future and more specialised concepts matching concrete citizen requirements will be realised. This will help to address the issue of commercial vacancies with a versatile and pro-active instrument.

The Differdange City Manager explaining the unique approach to combat commercial vacancies. Source: Zeyen+Baumann.

For more information, visit www.diffmix.lu, which is the citizen involvement platform of the municipality (available in English, French and German) and the municipal website of the city of Differdange: www.differdange.lu

For more information or for comments, please contact the author of this article: sebastian.hans@spatialforesight.eu

Urban garden and horticultural shows have a long tradition in Europe. Many countries organise them, notably France with ‘Villes et Villages Fleuries’ (flowering cities and villages) and Germany with ‘Bundesgartenschau’ and ‘Landesgartenschau’ (federal and regional garden show).

Parks and green areas are created or refurbished to accommodate temporary exhibition areas. These spaces increase the attractiveness of cities and the well-being of residents. In 2025, an urban garden show will cover the whole of Luxembourg.

Rationale for action

Luxembourg has a long tradition in horticulture and related sectors. One is food production that yields a large range of niche products and producers as well as a well-developed local market which currently lack public recognition. An example is the long tradition of rose-growing in the country.

Objective

The Luxembourg Urban Garden show (LUGA) was launched to draw the attention of residents and tourists to the ‘green economy’ in Luxembourg. Appreciation for green jobs and local production will be increased by highlighting production methods, products and their historic and cultural importance. In addition to promoting the agricultural and horticultural sectors, it will also showcase ecological planning in the city of Luxembourg.

Cover image of the ‘Urban development nature’ topic. Source: LUGA – Luxembourg Urban Garden.

Time frame

Back in 2011 the idea for a horticultural show came up, which led to pre-studies and concept development. The LUGA will be held from May to October of 2025 but, as with other garden shows, the changes will be longer lasting, increasing the attractiveness of the city.

Originally, the garden show was planned for 2023. Because of the restrictions imposed in response to the COVID19 pandemic, the original timeplan had to be amended. In October 2021, it was decided to postpone the LUGA until 2025. Other measures have been put in place to compensate for the delay, inter alia a significant increase of the LUGA’s budget from EUR 10 million to EUR 22 million.

Key players

The City of Luxembourg has a key role as the main exhibition site. The Ministry of Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development is a key player and LUGA will be implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Finance.

In charge for the implementation if the horticultural show is an association of which the Ministry of Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development and the City of Luxembourg hold equal shares.

Cover image of the ‘Social nature’ topic. Source: LUGA – Luxembourg Urban Garden

Implementation steps and processes

The Luxembourg horticultural association planted the seed for a horticultural show back in 2011. Since then, administrations have been active and have also conducted a feasibility study. In 2017, the garden show was approved and in 2019 the financial agreement was signed by all the partners. To implement LUGA an association was founded in 2019.

In July 2019, there was a press conference with political representatives of Luxembourg city and the Ministry of Agriculture, Viticulture and rural Development where the plans, layout and objectives were presented to the public.

Since then, the LUGA association has worked on detailing the plans and preparing implementation of the garden show to take place from May to October 2025.

The exhibition sites and their topics in Luxembourg City. Source: LUGA – Luxembourg Urban Garden.

Required resources

The project has a budget of EUR 10 million. Half of this is provided by the state and half by the City of Luxembourg. The budget should cover the LUGA association operating costs, coordination activities and also co-finance some of the projects.

Since 2019, four people in the LUGA association have been working full-time on the show. To implement the show, the association can rely on the support of many national and city services, for example the Luxembourg City park service.

Results

A public workshop in the presence of the Minister for Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development and the Luxembourg City Alderman for urban development was held in November 2019 where interested citizens could propose ideas. This workshop gathered more than 400 ideas from all parts of the country. These ideas were categorised in four themes that will structure the show in four sites in Luxembourg City:

  • ‘Pure nature’, will highlight the newly renaturalised Pétrusse river and adjacent park in the Pétrusse valley, a deep valley next to the city centre;
  • ‘Social nature’, will cover community gardens, ecological agriculture and urban agriculture in the Limpertsberg residential area and its park;
  • ‘Culture nature’ will feature historic gardens, floral art and cultural events in the historic eastern part of the city, around Grund, Clausen and Pfaffenthal;
  • ‘Urban development nature’ will show new and innovative approaches to urban greenery in the Kirchberg business district.
Cover image of the ‘Pure nature’ topic. Source: LUGA – Luxembourg Urban Garden.

Every exhibition site will be open to the public. The association counts on active involvement and support from citizens, businesses and interested organisations to implement LUGA in a collaborative way.

LUGA is designed to be open. Citizens can become involved and contribute as can other areas or businesses across the country that wish to become affiliated partners. This way, they can benefit from the publicity and attention created through LUGA.

Cover image of the ‘Culture nature’ topic. Source: LUGA – Luxembourg Urban Garden.

Experiences, success factors, risks

The enthusiastic publicity and promotion of LUGA in Luxembourg is raising expectations of residents and visitors towards the garden show.

The participative workshop in November 2019 was a success. Asking citizens and interested persons to propose ideas and concepts provided a wealth of proposals that could be realised under LUGA. Many of the ideas will be implemented in at least one of the exhibition sites in Luxembourg City or elsewhere in the country. Such participation significantly increases acceptance and ownership of citizens with the project.

Conclusions

With LUGA, Luxembourg will hold its first garden show. Many people and administrations are collaborating to make the show a success in 2025. With the participation of citizens, lasting changes to the urban landscape and the interesting ideas and concepts reported in the press, LUGA promises to be a successful event.

Contact

General E-mail address of LUGA: info@luga2023.lu

References

LUGA – Luxembourg Urban Garden, 2020: Website (in German):

Luxembourg Government, 2019: Public announcement of the Luxembourg Urban Garden exposition (in German):

https://gouvernement.lu/de/actualites/toutes_actualites/communiques/2019/07-juillet/18-schneiderr-expo-horticole.html

Celebrating the accession of the city of Differdange to the CIPU convention, we interviewed Laura Pregno, alderwoman for urban development and Manuel Lopes Costa, chief planner for the City of Differdange. Differdange is the third-largest city in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The interview covered climate change adaptation and climate action in Luxembourg urban areas.

Interviewer: Measures addressing climate change can reduce hazardous emissions, or deal with the consequences of climate change. What role does local development play in adapting to climate change?

Alderwoman Pregno and chief planner Lopes Costa: Urban development is important to climate change adaptation with municipal measures aligned to broader objectives. The city of Differdange directly contributes to Sustainable Development Goal 11 ‘Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’ through a municipal guideline.

Sustainable Development Goal 11. Source: UN, 2021.

The 2018 guideline lays out principles and objectives for renovation and construction of public buildings in Differdange (available here in German). It directly refers to the Sustainable Development Goals, linking municipality measures to global climate change adaptation and climate action. When implementing local measures, it is important to consider these overarching objectives and strategies as this ensures that players at all levels are working towards the same objectives creating synergies and avoiding conflicts.

Linking municipal efforts to broader global policies still leaves municipalities free to adapt their own visions, strategies and objectives. We develop our own visions and strategies for climate change adaptation and climate action through urban and district development in our city. Referring to the global objectives helps us to use monitoring, with measurable effects that are visible for Differdange residents.

Differdange uses municipal planning to involve citizens, associations, public institutions and services as well as businesses. In addition, our starting point for climate change adaptation differs from other places. In Differdange we have different pre-requisites than elsewhere, calling for territorially integrated actions and measures. Urban and district development instruments help us to incorporate local specificities in policy making.

Interviewer: Where do you see priorities and opportunities to use existing or new spatial planning and urban development instruments for climate change adaptation in Luxembourg?

Alderwoman Pregno and chief planner Lopes Costa: Luxemburg municipalities already have a range of instruments to hand that enable climate change adaptation and climate action to be integral in urban development. From our point of view, these instruments are sufficient for such measures.

However, climate change adaptation and climate action often lack clearly defined objectives and measures at municipal level in Luxembourg. In Differdange and other municipalities instruments could not be used to their full potential to carry out projects as there were unclear overarching objectives. These ambiguities have their origin in political disputes or a lack of climate-related strategies at municipal level.

This is why we, the city of Differdange, are working on clear politically approved objectives. An urban strategy is currently under development which will align all urban development projects in Differdange to contribute to climate change adaptation and climate action. The strategy will complement the existing guideline and is being developed jointly with citizens and across political parties, ensuring that all parties will work on its implementation.

Once these clear and politically approved objectives are defined at local level, we can use urban development and planning to their full potential to implement concrete measures. Our strategy will ensure that climate change adaptation and climate action objectives are addressed in urban development. The local zoning plan, PAG (Plan d’aménagement general) will influence land-use in favour of climate change adaptation, with specific land-use plans (Plan d’aménagement particulier)and urbanistic concepts for vacant land (Schémas Directeurs) enabling measures for private or public development projects, such as building layout and even construction materials.  

Interviewer: What role should climate change adaptation play in a sustainable urban development?

Alderwoman Pregno and chief planner Lopes Costa: In Luxembourg, impacts of climate change have become more visible in recent years. More frequent torrential rains, droughts and hazardous events have put climate change back into the population’s awareness. The most important instrument we as the city of Differdange have to counter these changes is sustainable urban development. Changing our urban landscape and making it more fit for the future will guarantee that our city remains liveable. Nevertheless, to make sure that we are all moving into the same direction we need joint visions and strategies. With our climate strategy, we increase leverage of our measures as we commit all political parties to shared objectives and measures.

Master plan for the ‘Plateau du Funiculaire’ in Differdange. Source: Dewey Muller, 2020.

Interviewer: Can converting urban brownfields help climate change adaption?

Alderwoman Pregno and chief planner Lopes Costa: We have brownfield conversion experience with the large development project ‘Plateau fu Funiculaire’ in the centre of Differdange. Since 2004, we have been developing this district together with many stakeholders. The brownfield was a former dumpsite for the nearby blast furnace and was developed in a way that connects the city districts of Differdange, Differdange, Oberkorn and Fousbann. We also re-naturalised the river Chiers with special attention on providing natural flooding surfaces.

This large-scale brownfield development has much more freedom compared to developments in existing urban areas. We discussed and balanced measures before they were realised in detail. This has helped to avoid conflicts. Also, planners optimally balance the three pillars of sustainable development; economy, ecology and society at project level.

However, this process takes time. It is important that concerns on climate change adaptation and climate action are considered in the planning process from the very beginning. Only then can the different needs and requirements be balanced through iterative discussions and negotiations between sector experts, so operational concepts can be developed and implemented.

In addition, brownfield development projects such as ‘Plateau du Funiculaire’ serve as testbeds for new approaches and technologies. Its size meant we faced challenges that could not be solved with existing planning approaches. An example is providing heat to the 600 units in the district. The area was planned with a centralised district heat system as early as 2007 to reduce infrastructure costs and to save energy. The idea could only be adopted later, but time is available in such large-scale brownfield developments.

‘Plateau du Funiculaire’ from above during construction. Source: Dewey Muller, 2020.

Interviewer: Thank you and we will definitely cover the ‘Plateau du Funiculaire’ project in our upcoming descriptions of good practices from Luxembourg. What is the role of the CIPU for climate change adaptation in Luxembourg?

Alderwoman Pregno and chief planner Lopes Costa: The National Information Unit for Urban Policy (CIPU) is a platform to liaise partners and other players in Luxembourg on climate change adaptation. In addition to our measures in Differdange, all cities and municipalities across Luxembourg develop and implement climate change adaptation and climate action measures. CIPU events, workshops and related activities help bring this knowledge and experience together to create new knowledge. CIPU also facilitates discussion on difficulties encountered when implementing measures to support climate change adaptation and climate action. Critical reflection in the framework of CIPU events is crucial to designing and implementing changes to improve urban development in the country.

For any questions on the article, please refer to the author: sebastian.hans@spatialforesight.eu

Climate change also affects Luxembourg. More frequent droughts, torrential rains and flooding are just some of the changes expected in the near future. Climate action measures can address these changes. By reducing the environmental impact of human actions, climate change can be slowed if not halted.

To monitor progress in climate action, Luxembourg, along with all other Member States of the European Union, has set out ambitious climate action targets in its National Energy and Climate Plan 2021-2030. To help reach the targets, the Luxembourg Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development together with the national agency myenergy has developed a unique tool that supports climate action in municipalities across the country.

Rationale for action

The Luxembourg National Energy and Climate Plan 2021-2030 defines targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55%, to increase energy efficiency by 40-44% and to increase the share of renewable energy by 25%.

Objective

To help to accelerate the transition, effective instruments are needed to increase renewable energy production and energy efficiency.

At the same time, many climate and energy related decisions are made at a municipal level. So, climate action cannot be implemented without the consent and support of the country’s municipalities. An instrument was needed that would help to identify, structure, fund and communicate measures for climate action convincing municipalities to be primary players in climate action and rewarding their efforts. Thus, the idea for Klimapakt was born.

Time frame

The first edition of Klimapakt supported municipalities between 2012 and 2020. In 2021 a second edition of the instrument is being launched to continue to support municipalities with more ambitious measures until 2030.

Key players

Municipalities are the main target and the main players for implementing climate action measures. The idea for Klimapakt was developed by the Luxembourg Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development and the Luxembourg agency myenergy and is based on the european energy award (eea).

Implementation steps and processes

Klimapakt is implemented through an agreement between the Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development, myenergy and individual municipalities. The agreement equips municipalities with financial and human resources to implement climate action measures. It also requires municipalities to implement measures to benefit from funding provided by the state. This way, municipalities can choose the projects that best fit the local context and the state maintains control over spending and results.

After signing the contract, a climate team is put in place, with local elected officials, collaborators of the municipality (the climate team), local enterprises and citizens as well as an external climate advisor (provided from myenergy) or an internal climate advisor (employee from the municipality). The initial assessment of the municipality and its energy consumption is established by the climate advisor and the climate team. Based on a pre-defined catalogue of measures, municipalities then select individual measures, contribute to increased energy efficiency or reduced energy consumption. These measures are grouped in a work programme.

Depending on the size of the municipality, a climate advisor is available for a number of workdays every year (up to 75 days). In addition to the main climate advisor, municipalities can also book specialized advisors in the fields of circular economy and building renovation.

Klimapakt has 64 measures categorized in six categories, ranging from spatial planning, construction, municipal infrastructure and services, resource management, mobility, internal organisation to communication and cooperation.

Klimapakt measures are based on the framework catalogue of the european energy award and are adapted to the Luxembourg context. This ensures that actions contribute to the European reference framework for local climate actions.

Every measure has a specific number of points, enabling monitoring of progress towards programme objectives. By implementing the measures, municipalities benefit from financial support from the state.

Labels for certifying municipalities at 40%, 50%, 65% and 75% progress. Source: myenergy.lu

Municipal Klimapakt programmes are monitored every three years and can be certified at 40%, 50%, 65% and 75% progress. At the same time, Luxembourg municipalities are certified with the european energy award system, giving greater international visibility.

Complementing the general framework catalogue from the European energy award, municipalities can also work towards thematic certifications in the fields of circular economy, climate change adaptation and air quality.

Required resources

To implement the measures, municipalities benefit – in addition to the climate advisor – from an annual payment of EUR 10 to 45 per capita based on the number of residents and level of certification.

Results

The success of the initiative speaks for itself. In 2020, each of the 102 municipalities in Luxembourg was engaged in the Klimapakt and 96% of them were certified.

78 of these municipalities were certified at above 50% in 2020, having implemented more than half of the measures of the contract between the state and the municipalities. 13 municipalities even reached the 75% certification level.

By following the european energy award certification, municipalities can also get European level awards at the 75% level. In 2020, thirteen Luxembourg municipalities were awarded the eea ‘Gold’ status for their climate action.

Experiences, success factors, risks

Using a label to certify municipality action has helped to market the Klimapakt approach to the target group. Municipalities are using the label to make their measures visible to residents and to benchmark their efforts against other municipalities. This makes the instrument an important lever to support climate action in the country.

Conclusions

The Klimapakt is not just a technocratic instrument to increase municipal climate action. It has also become a brand in Luxembourg, showing municipality efforts on climate action.

The first Klimapakt, showed the instrument can be an umbrella for climate action. New measures and standards in the upcoming edition will encourage stronger result-orientation and cooperation with citizens through public participation.

Contact

Mr Bruno Barboni, project officer for Klimapakt: bruno.barboni@myenergy.lu

References

Barboni, B. & Faber, F., 2020: Presentation of Klimapakt 1.0 and 2.0 (in Luxembourgish): https://www.pacteclimat.lu/sites/default/files/media-docs/2021-03/myenergy-presentatioun_0.pdf

KlimaPakt, 2021: Measures catalogue (in German and French): https://www.pacteclimat.lu/de/engagierter-akteur/umsetzungshilfe

KlimaPakt, 2021: Library of relevant documents (in German and French): https://www.pacteclimat.lu/de/engagierter-akteur/mediathek

Urban retailers face increasing competition through changing consumer behaviour including online shopping and greenfield shopping centres. This leads to vacant retail areas within cities, as customer footfall is channelled away from the centres.

This trend affects the commercial landscape in Luxembourg. Nevertheless, there is almost no data being collected that could help to provide a deeper understanding of the trend and how it can be counteracted. So, the General Directorate for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises of the Luxembourgish Ministry of Economy, the Chamber of Commerce and the Luxembourg Confederation for Commerce (CLC) initiated the ‘Pakt PRO Commerce’.

The pact will help leverage the economic situation of retailers. A key part of the instrument is the Commercial Observation Register, a new tool to document and categorise businesses across the country. It can be used to analyse the commercial landscape and to inform decision-makers on where there is a large range of retailers and hence centrality as well as potential locations for additional retailers.

Rationale for action

The retailing sector is just one of the many sectors affected by digitalisation as more and more sales volume is generated online. In Luxembourg, between 80% and 90% of the population regularly shops online while only 10% of Luxembourg based shops offer products via the internet. In addition, many greenfield developments for large retailing centres are currently underway, probably decreasing customer footfall in city centres.

These trends threaten the survival of small urban retailers, as their customer base declines. Therefore, more and more retailing space risks being left vacant, which decreases the retail supply and the attractivity of city centers.

Objective

Increasing the understanding of ‘Why?’ and ‘How?’ these processes happen is the main objective of the Commercial Observation Register. This is a nation-wide database of retailers and their characteristics, enabling analysis of the commercial landscape in a city or municipality.

With the aid of data, the Commercial Observation Register can help answer critical questions for developing the urban commercial landscape, such as; ‘What trends shape and form a city’s commercial landscape?’, ‘How does the commercial landscape of a city look?’, ‘Where are the best locations for retailers currently?’ and ‘Where are ideal locations for new retailers?’. The answers assist decision making on urban development.

Time frame

‘Pakt PRO Commerce’, which includes the Commercial Observation Register, was launched in 2016. Collecting information on urban retailers in Luxembourg was completed in February 2019.

Key players

‘Pakt PRO Commerce’ was launched by three partners; the General Directorate for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises of the Ministry of Economy, the Chamber of Commerce and the Luxembourg Confederation of Commerce (CLC). During the test phase, the Commercial Observation Register has been implemented and managed by the latter organisation.

Users of the Commercial Observation Register are municipal or national policy makers looking to make decisions that could impact the retail landscape.

Based on information from the Commercial Observation Register, the location and typology of shops could be mapped to identify the inner city area of the City of Dudelange. Source: CLC, 2018.

Implementation steps and processes

The Commercial Observation Register is a national database regrouping information on the locations and types of retailers. The CLC, in charge of implementation during the pilot phase, started designing the analysis tool in 2016. Since then, information about each retailer in the country has been surveyed, including address, name, type, size of retail space, business model and type of distribution. These results are fed into a central Geographic Information System (GIS) and can be used for further processing and analysis.

For first-hand analysis, the GIS database can provide information on all retailers in a given location at any time. For more in-depth analysis, the GIS database can be complemented with market analysis, i.e. purchasing power, location analysis and turnover forecasts.

Required resources

The first pilot phase of the Commercial Observation Register has been finalised in 2018. It is planned to make the tool accessible to decision-makers during 2021. However, information on required resources are not available. How the different municipalities and policy makers will be able to benefit from the Commercial Observation Register will be determined after first projects will be finalised, using information from the Register.

Results

With the Commercial Observation Register, municipalities and policy makers can access a versatile tool supporting decision-making. It enables appropriate strategic decisions shaping future commercial landscapes in cities and municipalities. The tool enables definitions of commercial centres, decisions on locating new retailers and understanding impacts of trends, such as digitalisation, on the urban retailing environment.

To elaborate additional benefits and applications of the Commercial Observation Register, the instrument will be tested in five cities. This will enable additional conclusions on specialised applications as well as the data and analysis required to react to specific issues, such as shop vacancy, parking and accessibility, trends in the retailing sector and more. Testing the tool will also provide insights as to when the information can be used best to shape local decision making. This helps to create tailor-made and result-oriented applications for the various retail sector players in Luxembourg.

Potential use of the Commercial Observation Register can be illustrated through development of the new district ‘am Duerf’ by the municipality of Dudelange within the city centre. This new district helped to bridge a commercially deserted area between the two main commercial centres. The number of businesses has increased from 167 to 215 (2018) in just three years, increasing the attraction of the city centre. Also, two commercial hotspots which were formerly separated could be transformed by the ‘am Duerf’ development into a single, continuous retail district (see Map).

The pilot of the Commercial Observation Register has been extended in 2019 on the cities of Esch-sur-Alzette, Diekirch, Remich and Bertrange, addressing different challenges to urban retailers throughout the country.

Map of the commercial situation before and after development of the ‘am Duerf’ district. Source: CLC, 2018.

Experiences, success factors, risks

In the future, the Commercial Observation Register will become a powerful tool to assist policy makers in shaping development of the retailing sector. Not only location, but also decisions on retail space needs can be influenced by the tool. However, the Commercial Observation Register relies on an extensive data collection procedure. Only if data is collected regularly in every municipality can there be reliable observations on trends. This might reflect on the operational costs of the tool for its stakeholders.

Conclusions

The Commercial Observation Register is an instrument with a lot of potential applications to shape retailing functions in Luxembourg’s cities and municipalities. It informs policy makers about the retailing landscape, type and development of supply so they can make decisions considering changing consumer behaviour. Even though such an instrument is not new to the set of tools available to urban planners, it is the first of its kind in Luxembourg. More initiatives like the Commercial Observation Register supporting domestic retailers and shop owners, such as the online platform “Letzshop”, have been implemented recently.

Contact

General contact address of the Luxembourg Confederation of Commerce: info@clc.lu

References

Pact PRO Commerce, 2018 (in French and German): https://www.procity.lu/fr/2018/07/16/quelle-valeur-ajoutee-le-nouveau-cadastre-du-commerce-offre-t-il/

Luxembourg Confederation for Commerce, 2018: The new Commercial observation register for Luxembourg. What’s the added-value? (in German): https://www.procity.lu/2018/07/16/das-neue-cadastre-du-commerce-welchen-mehrwert-bietet-es/

Wort, 2020: Le cadastre commercial fait attendre (in French): https://www.wort.lu/fr/luxembourg/le-cadastre-commercial-se-fait-attendre-5e4417feda2cc1784e3560fe

The south of Luxembourg is marked by the heritage of the steel industry and mining. Large active and inactive industrial sites next to urban centres remind residents and visitors of the peak of heavy industry. Located in the south of Dudelange city centre, the Schmelz district was home to a steel mill until 2005. The 40-hectare site is now undergoing a major brownfield reconversion project.

Rationale for action

Following the steel crisis in the 1970’s, more and more steel mills closed. Since then, the ongoing structural change has also affected Luxembourg’s south. In 2005, the former Schmelz steel mill was closed, which created a 40-hectare industrial brownfield site next to the city centre. The municipality saw the opportunity and kick-started a process to convert the site into a new urban district.

Schmelz district during early 20th century. Source: City of Dudelange, 2019.

Objective

The central objective of the NeiSchmelz project is to construct a new district with housing, commercial and cultural areas connecting the districts of Italie and Schmelz to the city centre. Preserving the heritage of heavy industry is particularly important for the municipality. Therefore, the municipality intends to maintain the former industrial character, by preserving industrial artefacts such as the water tower and the floor plan of the factory buildings.

NeiSchmelz will offer approximately 1 000 new housing units. The new district should be multifunctional, mixed and attractive also for locals. By involving the Housing Fund (Fonds du Logement) in the development, housing will also be available for prices below market value, which will further promote a social mix.

The new district will have easy access to Dudelange city centre, to surrounding districts, to green recreation areas and to the national traffic infrastructure. In addition to existing railway lines for example, there will be new traffic infrastructure within the new district and towards the surrounding areas (pathways, bike lanes, roads).

Time frame

The development started in 2008 and is ongoing (2021). The participatory phase started back in 2009 and the interim use concept was developed in 2011. A decontamination study and negotiations between the steel company (Arcelor Mittal) and the state were finalised in 2016. Since then, urbanistic concepts are being developed and implemented.

Key players

City of Dudelange, Housing Fund (Fonds du Logement), Luxembourg state functions (environment and water management administration, public roads and bridges administration (all under the Ministry of sustainable development and Infrastructure), CFL (national railway company)), Luxembourg EcoInnovation Cluster, developers, architects, civil society (community and social enterprises) and private developers.

Positioning of the NeiSchmelz district in relation to Dudelange centre (in the upper half of the picture). Source: City of Dudelange, 2019.

Implementation steps and processes

After the former steel mill closed in 2005, the municipal administration issued a call for proposals in 2006 to gather ideas for future use of the site. In 2008, there was a decision to create a new urban district with a focus on housing. A national call for development proposals was launched in 2009. In 2010, the NeiSchmelz proposal was awarded and planners were contracted to develop the master plan for the district. In parallel, a concept to decontaminate the area was elaborated. In the meantime, an interim use concept was initiated and the master plan was finalised in 2012. Negotiations between the steel company, who owned the site, and the state finished in 2016, transferring ownership of the site to the state-owned Housing Fund.

Alongside implementation, a participatory process involving the public was organised. From 2009 to 2016, local residents and interest groups could incorporate their ideas for the interim use and final state of the conversion. This was achieved through information campaigns, multiple consultations and workshops. Presentations of the project highlight changes introduced through the public consultation procedure to illustrate to citizens how their contribution has influenced the project.

In order to develop the site, the municipal land-use plan (PAG) had to be changed. For the technical implementation, the city will rely on four so-called PAP (partial land-use plans). These act as building permits and were submitted for approval in late 2017.

Required resources

Since the project is implemented stepwise, the required resources cannot be specified. A key aspect for the project, however, was the acquisition of the site from the steel company.

Results

So far, there are few results of the conversion project. 1 000 new housing units will create living space for around 2 000 new residents. Additionally, there will be new commercial areas as well as public and semi-public areas for social and cultural exchange. A large area in the centre of the district will be for businesses, targeting start-ups and innovative enterprises. Building permits, in the form of partial land use plans for the new district were submitted for approval in late 2017 and approved in 2019.

Aerial view of the future district. Source: Fonds du Logement, 2019.

Experiences, success factors, risks

Reconversion provides the opportunity to bring new types of land use into an urban area. NeiSchmelz creates a new residential district with businesses and public spaces. At the same time, the project illustrates how cultural heritage from the steel industry can be preserved while changing the usage of the site.

This industrial reconversion is a large-scale project that benefits from multi-level governance arrangements. In particular for the negotiations with the globally acting industrial companies, it was important to involve a national player.

The project is similar in size to other conversion projects in Luxembourg. For most of these projects, the sheer size in relation to the immediate surroundings and existing urban fabric poses special challenges for planners and architects.

Conclusions

NeiSchmelz illustrates that participatory processes, if implemented thoughtfully, have an impact on the length of a planning process. Participation, however, is key to acceptance of the new project and should thus represent a central pillar in the planning process. A good project requires effort and time.

Contacts

Ms Eva Gottschalk, Chief planner of the City of Dudelange: Eva.Gottschalk@dudelange.lu

References

City of Dudelange, 2021: project website: http://www.dudelange.lu/fr/projets-urbains/projet-neischmelz

City of Dudelange, 2013: participation report: http://www.dudelange.lu/fr/Documents/2013_Neischmelz-Rapport.pdf

Cities are hot spots of ecological disruption due to excessive consumption of natural resources and high pollution by inhabitants. At the same time, cities are also creative spaces where existing models and rules are challenged, and alternatives are developed and tested.

‘Eco-districts’ and ‘eco-villages’ are new approaches and concepts that are being tested in urban areas. With principles such as ‘zero-waste’ and the circular economy becoming increasingly popular, these initiatives currently experience a renaissance with great interest of the public, decision-makers and urban planners.

Rationale for action

Circular economy has become a trend topic in Luxemburg during recent years. Decision-makers, urban planners and building research investigate new techniques and materials to render urban construction following the ‘zero-waste’ principle and the principle of circular economy.

At the same time, the demand for products that are produced in an ecologically and socially viable way increases. Alternatives to our established consumption model become more mainstream and promote alternatives to the linear economy of today. Many grassroot initiatives benefit from this recent trend towards a more circular approach in construction and an increasing demand for alternative products. BENU village has committed itself to this idea and in doing so has become the first eco-village of the Greater Region.

Outside view on BENU village. Source: https://www.greenpeace.org/luxembourg/fr/actualites/4321/benu-village-esch-un-ecovillage-au-luxembourg/

Objective

BENU village, (neologism for “Be New”) is the name of a grassroot movement in Esch-sur-Alzette. Its objective is to showcase that alternative models to the mainstream way of building and consuming are possible, and so in Luxembourg.

In this regard, the construction of the first eco-village of the Greater Region follows circular economy principles and also the economic activities are committed towards recycling, reusing and upcycling.

Time frame

The idea to create the BENU village first came up in 2015. A private person had the idea, which soon came to realisation. In 2017, the construction of BENU village started and the first building was finalised at the end of 2019.  

View of the entrance of BENU village. Source: https://www.moien.lu/benu-village-franz-fayot/

Key players

To formalise the idea and to increase its visibility towards the public, the city and the state, an association was founded to endorse the implementation of the eco-village: “BENU Village Esch ASBL”. The association is financially supported by the municipality and the state.

During the realisation, other state players became interested in the project. Businesses and state services use the premises of BENU village. For example, the national integration service for young adults organises learning programmes in BENU village.

Implementation steps and processes

All building materials used for the construction of BENU village derived from either re-use or recycling. Since the start of the construction in 2017, many volunteers have supported the building of the first house, which was finalised at the end of 2019. In addition to the volunteers, the project was supported by local craftsmen and other businesses that provided knowledge and materials.

In the building process of the village, considerable attention was devoted to the use of recycled materials. During the construction, only the screws were purchased new, the remaining materials, for example the windows, the wood used for framing, the insulation and the exterior shell of the houses, were entirely recycled from waste.

Soon after the first building was realised, shops moved in. The founder and initiator of BENU village opened “BENU Couture”, a tailor shop that produces clothing from used materials and second-hand articles. The premises continue to grow and were opened for other interested professionals.

A Charta, the so-called “BENU Charta” formulates shared values that ought to be respected by all businesses and professionals working in the eco-village, was developed. The Charta puts an emphasis on the ‘zero-waste’ principle, the recycling and upcycling of materials and commits future economic activities in the eco-village to act in an environmentally and socially responsible and transparent way.

Inside view of the shopping area of BENU village. Source: https://www.moien.lu/benu-village-franz-fayot/

Required resources

BENU village benefits from seed funding of the Ministry of Energy and Spatial Planning and the City of Esch-sur-Alzette, where the initiative is located. Apart from the financial support, the project was realised with the support of volunteers, that helped in the building and organisation of BENU village. As the building materials were mostly recycled, no material costs arised from the implementation of the project.

Results

The numbers speak for the success of the eco-villager: in 2019, a turnover of EUR 210,000 was generated, with 18 persons working for BENU village. About EUR 80,000 were generated from upcycled clothing and accessories. And BENU village will soon grow further. In 2021, when more surfaces of BENU village will become available, they will be rented to professionals pursuing similar ideas. Interested businesses, that act in line with the BENU Charta, can then rent these spaces. This way, BENU village will develop into a coworking space of likeminded professionals and businesses.

BENU village shows that there are different interpretations of the often referred-to ‘circular economy’. In addition to the mainstream definition, applied mostly at regional and national level, the definition of BENU village is different. BENU village shows an alternative reading to circular economy that functions at small scale and yields more than just a decrease in material consumption.

Outside view of the container structure of BENU village. Source: https://www.moien.lu/benu-village-franz-fayot/

Experiences, success factors, risks

As with many grassroot movements, the private commitment to the underlaying idea is important for the success of a project. The idea for BENU village was initiated and implemented by a private person. The continued lobbying and defence of the idea has successfully yielded the interest of elected officially, such as several national ministers and even the Grand Duke of Luxembourg.

In 2021, the project was awarded with the European Climate Star from the Climate Alliance in the category ‘Saving resources’. A short video is available here.

Conclusions

BENU village shows an alternative to our current living and working in an affluent society. Ideas such as ‘zero waste’ can also be successfully implemented with relatively little resources at district level. However, for doing so one needs pioneers and “BENU is a pioneer”, as described by the national Minister for Energy and Spatial Planning, Turmes.

The idea behind BENU is versatile and can be applied for more than just material production. During 2021, a restaurant, following the BENU Charta will open at the premises of BENU village.

Contact

General E-Mail address of BENU village Esch asbl: benu@benuvillageesch.lu

References

BENU, 2020: Website of BENU village Esch (in English): http://benu.lu/en/

Taylor Aiken, Schulz & Schmid, 2020: The community economies of Esch-sur-Alzette: rereading the economy of Luxembourg (scientific article in English): https://orbilu.uni.lu/handle/10993/42602

In 2013 there were some 995 hectares of vacant building land in Luxembourg which are classified as ‘Baulücken’. They are connected to infrastructure such as electricity and waste water. In principle, they are immediately available for construction and thus can tackle short- and intermediate-term needs for housing. To stimulate the use of these plots, the state has initiated the so-called ‘Baulückenprogramm’ (vacant lot identification and mobilisation programme). In Dudelange, the first project under the national programme is now underway.

Rationale for action

Tackling the housing shortage is a key priority on the political agenda in Luxembourg. By constructing more housing units, the shortage of living space can be reduced and prices could drop. Additionally, developing the vacant lots avoids urban sprawl. However, a limiting factor is their ownership structure as developing the lots for housing requires a consent of the owner. Only 6 % of these 995 hectares belong to public actors (state, municipalities and public funds). 94% belong to the private sector.

Owner structure of ‘Baulücken’ in Luxembourg: the majority is owned by private individuals (82.2%), followed by businesses (11.7%), municipalities (4.3%) and the state (0.7%). The structure shows the need to inform and cooperate with private owners in mobilising ‘Baulücken’ for urban development. Source: Ministry of Housing, 2016.

Objective

The national ‘Baulückenprogramm’ aims at activating these lots for the construction of housing. Developing these areas does not require long administrative procedures and it is possible to develop them relatively quickly. A first objective of the programme is to identify the lots and to make owners aware of how their lots could contribute in satisfying the demand for housing. In this process, municipalities act as intermediaries between the state and private owners.

Time frame

2014 – today

Key players

Land owners, municipalities as intermediaries and the state (Ministry for Housing) setting political targets and contracting external consultants. During the implementation of the programme, private and public landowners are and will be involved.

Implementation steps and processes

In 2014, the programme was initiated by the Ministry of Housing alongside other measures to revitalise housing construction and to address the shortage of housing in Luxembourg. Among these other measures are hereditary leaseholds, pre-emption rights for public actors, tax reform for housing, renting subsidies and ‘Baulandverträge’ (building land contracts).

Fictional example of the information brochure: the yellow ‘Baulücken’ provide the same surface as the red greenfield development. Source: Ministry of Housing.

The Ministry of Housing launched the programme, external consultants conducted the analysis and municipalities have to validate the results. Addressing private owners by providing information on the added value of the property and explaining the concrete advantages of mobilising specific lots should stimulate development. Public authorities should act as an interlocutor and advise owners to develop their property privately.

Experience from Germany has shown that information campaigns helped to convince 25% of private owners to develop their plots within the building perimeter.

Required resources

The process consists of multiple parts, so the resources required are unknown. The process is implemented by multiple actors with different motives and means, and thus estimating the required resources is not possible.

Results

The ‘Baulückenprogramm’ has just started and has not yet provided additional tangible results. The analysis of the municipal building pattern to identify vacant lots has not yet been completed for all municipalities in Luxembourg.

Communicating the identified vacant lots to municipalities is realised through an online platform providing tailor-made access. A first pilot under the national vacant lot mobilisation programme is realised in Dudelange, in the south of the country. To develop the 0.4 hectares of land in Dudelange, a first call for tender for proposals was launched in 2016. The call was organised in cooperation with the Ministry for Housing and the municipality of Dudelange, incorporating the Fonds du Logement (the national Housing Fund). The winning concept Um Bierenger Haff proposes transforming the former farm into 16 apartments for families and single households. It keeps the rural character of the district and has multiple meeting places for new and old residents.

Facade of the new units at ‘Bierenger Haff’ in Dudelange. Source: Ministry of Housing, 2017.

Experience, success factors, risks

Mobilising private owners of vacant lots through information campaigns is decisive where land is privately owned and inaccessible for developing housing. It is also essential that public stakeholders lead by example by developing vacant lots on publicly owned land.

However, it remains to be seen whether the programme will be successful without financial incentives.

Conclusions

The first project Um Bierenger Haff in the framework of the national ‘Baulückenprogramm’ is a pilot to see how vacant lots can be used quickly without an excessive administrative burden. It is also the first opportunity to test the connection between different levels of decision-making and different economic rationales on matters of housing (private, municipal, state). The experience will help future mobilisation of vacant lots.

Contact

Ms Carmen Wagener, Ministry of Housing: Carmen.Wagener@ml.etat.lu

Ms Eva Gottschalk, municipality of Dudelange: Eva.Gottschalk@dudelange.lu

References

Ministry of Housing, Fonds du Logement, ville de Dudelange, 2017 – Concours “Baulücke” à Dudelange (in French): https://gouvernement.lu/dam-assets/fr/actualites/communiques/2017/07-juillet/24-hansen-dudelange/Dossier-de-presse-_pdf_.pdf

Ministry of Housing, 2016: Lücke sucht Wohnung, neue Chancen für den Wohnungsbau (in German): https://gouvernement.lu/dam-assets/fr/actualites/communiques/2016/07-juillet/08-dudelange-bauluecken/SKMBT_C22416070511540.pdf

Conventions are contractual agreements that foster cooperation between municipalities and the State in Luxembourg. Conventions can cover a multitude of topics in the field of spatial planning and urban development.

Rationale for action

In Luxemburg, the national level sets the general political objectives and orientations of spatial planning and development. To a large extent, the competence for urban planning and development lies with the municipalities. An intermediate level between the state and the municipalities is missing; there is no regional level requiring neighbouring municipalities to coordinate their spatial planning procedures or future development options. Yet cooperation and coordination among all levels of government (vertical dimension) and with relevant actors at the same level (horizontal level) is necessary to achieve the objectives of a sustainable spatial development.

Objective

Conventions promote inter-municipal and multilevel cooperation to foster sustainable regional development, promote integrated planning and address specific development issues. In this context, conventions facilitate the vertical cooperation between the State and municipalities with the aim of implementing the objectives established in territorial strategies, such as the Master Programme for Spatial Planning (PDAT), the Integrated Transport and Spatial Planning Concept (IVL) and the Global Strategy for Sustainable Mobility (MoDu 2.0).

Time frame

The first convention of territorial cooperation was created on an ad-hoc basis in 2005. Since then, five more conventions have been signed. The process was formalised in 2013 with the Law of 30 July 2013 on Spatial Planning, which defined the procedure for concluding conventions with territorially contiguous municipalities. In the new Law of 17 April 2018 on Spatial Planning, conventions are defined as a proprietary instrument for the implementation of the objectives of spatial planning.

Key players

Municipalities and national authorities (in particular the Department of Spatial Planning and Development in the Ministry of Energy and Spatial Planning). Membership is voluntary and there are no explicit statistical, geographical or morphological criteria for joining. With the new Law of 17 April 2018 on Spatial Planning, municipalities do not need to be territorially contiguous anymore. The membership of a municipality is solely based on functional criteria: all municipalities in a convention area have a shared understanding of common challenges and opportunities.

Implementation steps and processes

A convention represents a contractual agreement between municipalities and the State. In accordance with the Law of 17 April 2018 on Spatial Planning, the initiative to establish a convention can come from either the interested municipalities or the Minister responsible for Spatial Planning. Following the approval by the Council of Government, the Minister can sign a convention with these municipalities. The actors draft the text of the convention in which the mission and objectives, the joint projects, the organisational structure, the procedural setup, and the budgetary provisions are defined. A convention area is managed by a so-called ‘Political Committee’ that is composed of two elected representatives per municipality (usually the mayor and an alderman/alderwoman) and the Minister responsible for Spatial Planning. This Political Committee defines the political priorities of the convention and approves the annual work programme. The discussions and decisions at the political level are generally prepared by a ‘Technical Board’ that is composed of the municipal officers responsible for urban planning and policy experts from the Department of Spatial Planning and Development and, depending on the subject, other ministries. The day-to-day business and the follow-up of projects is, in some cases, managed by a Coordination Unit. Convention areas are not recognised as an official territorial unit and there is no formal delegation of competences to the Coordination Units.

Required resources

Conventions of territorial cooperation establish an organisational structure and a financial framework for the duration of the agreement. The allocated budget may vary depending on the willingness of partners to contribute and on the resources required to resolve a specific issue. The Department of Spatial Planning and Development financially contributes to the budget of each convention area, with the rest of the budget coming from the municipalities.

Results

Conventions are an instrument allowing to bridge decision-making levels. Conventions are often a first step to initiate territorial cooperation to work on an identified issue and lead to more institutionalised forms, such as municipal syndicates. Therefore, as of 2021, there’s only one active convention remaining:

  • CIPU is a convention between the Ministry of Energy and Spatial Planning, the Ministry of Housing and the municipalities of Luxembourg, Esch-sur-Alzette, Dudelange and as of 2022, the municipality of Differdange. The convention acts as a platform for exchange on urban policies for the partners and other municipal, national and European actors. The first convention was established in 2010 and the second one became effective in 2016 and will be extended in 2022.

The following conventions have lead to more institutionalised forms of cooperation:

  • the Nordstad convention has set the political basis for developing the Nordstad, a new urban region in the North. Members include the municipalities of Bettendorf, Colmar-Berg, Diekirch, Erpeldange-sur-Sûre, Ettelbrück, Schieren and the Ministry of Energy and Spatial Planning. In 2006, the first convention was signed, which was active until 2014. The second period of the convention covers the period from 2014 until 2019. In 2019, the convention led to the foundation of the inter-municipal Nordstad syndicate, organising the municipal services of the future Northern agglomeration.
  • the objective of the PRO-SUD convention was to promote the development of the South region, which is composed of eleven municipalities in the southern part of the country. The first convention for an integrated territorial development was signed in 2015 and expired in 2020, leading to the foundation of the PRO-SUD syndicate.

More conventions existed but did not lead to fixed forms of cooperation:

  • DICI was a convention that addressed inter-municipal spatial planning and development in the South-West region around Luxembourg-City. Members included the municipalities of Luxembourg, Bertrange, Hesperange, Leudelange, Strassen and the Ministry of Energy and Spatial Planning. The first convention was signed in 2005 and the second one in 2010, the latter of which ran until the end of 2018. The convention was not extended after 13 years of inter-municipal cooperation.
  • Air Regioun was a convention between the State and municipalities East of Luxembourg City. Its objective was to weaken the expected territorial development pressure of a fastly growing Luxembourg City and to coordinate economic development in the region. It was active from 2008 to 2013.
  • Convention Uelzechtdall between the State and the five municipalities north of Luxembourg City Lintgen, Lorentzweiler, Mersch, Steinsel and Walferdange was a convention active between 2007 and 2017. Its aim was to coordinate territorial development by streamlining municipal land-use plans.

Experiences, success factors, risks

The main factor in the conclusion of conventions is the political willingness to cooperate. Moreover, continued political commitment is necessary to sustain the cooperation and to implement projects. As the basis for political commitment, a shared understanding of common challenges and opportunities at the political level is required.

An important incentive for the municipalities to participate is the enhanced cooperation with the State as well as the implementation of joint projects. In terms of regional planning, the municipalities do not delegate planning competences to the Coordination Unit. Nonetheless, there is coordinated planning and development in some fields. This degree of coordination varies from one convention area to another with different coordination mechanisms and procedures. This leads to a differentiated pattern of results. All conventions have non-binding spatial development concepts. The Nordstad convention area, for instance, has a so-called Masterplan.

This form of cooperation fosters communication and builds trust among partners. In most cases, State and municipal actors use conventions to structure coordination mechanisms.

Conclusions

Due to their flexibility, conventions can be used to tackle problems in a unique way. The implication of national authorities helps to ensure funding where the municipal contribution is not sufficient, but the State can also act as a moderator or mediator. The national authorities are actively supporting the establishment of conventions. It is also important to provide the Coordination Unit, charged with the management of day-to-day business, with enough competences to successfully implement and carry out projects. Political willingness and commitment are necessary to sustain the cooperation and to implement projects.

Contacts

Ms Myriam Bentz, Ministry of Energy and Spatial Planning: Myriam.Bentz@mat.etat.lu