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Period of revitalisation activities

Revitalisation activities began at the end of the 20th century, but the first formal revitalisation programme was adopted in a simplified form in 2004. The main activities were aimed at the modernisation of tenement houses and vast post-industrial areas with a rich urban heritage and patronage housing estates (e.g. Księży Młyn). The renovation programme “City of tenement houses”, in accordance with the housing policy, implemented from 2011.

In 2011-2014 it was mainly focused in the metropolitan area of Łódź. Between 2016 and 2020, 7 properties were renovated under this programme, and in 2020 an investment of PLN 1 million was made to renovate the last of the tenements (the investment will be completed in 2021). Area revitalisation began in 2018, so the programme was implemented on a small scale but cotinued after the start of the Area Revitalisation of the Centre of Łódź, which is ogoing.

The “City of tenement houses” (Miasto kamienic) programme improved the residents’ living conditions. Thermal efficiency improvement (called also: thermomodernisation) was carried out. It consisted of the replacement of windows and doors, insulation of the roof structure and external walls. Other works included: replacement or reinforcement of ceilings, liquidation of shared toilets located outside the flats, and often outside the building, renovation of the façades, gates and staircases, maintenance works inside the protected, historic buildings, insulation, connection to the system heat network, modernisation of water and sewage, and electrical installations, development of the near-by public spaces (new surface of courtyards, organising of green areas). As part of the programme, the buildings were also connected to the system heat network in cooperation with VEOLIA Energia Łódź S.A., and thus the emission of pollutants was reduced. The programme also assumed a change in the flat functional layout and the improvement of the building technical condition, as well as the improvement of the city image by increasing the number of comprehensively renovated properties in the metropolitan area of ​​Łódź. Revitalisation process continues to this day, in recent years the largest worked have been implemented under eight projects within the Łódź Centre Regeneration Programme (Rewitalizacja Obszarowa Centrum Łodzi) and the Księży Młyn housing estate revitalisation project (Project entitled “Textile architecture trail”. Revitalisation of Księży Młyn” Total project value: PLN 60,998,077.86. include renovation of 29 properties and public spaces of the housing estate. A lot of spot investments are realised in the revitalised area.

Characteristics of the revitalisation area problems

Social sphere
Łódź, as a result of a systematic, albeit slight decrease in population, has been the third Polish city in terms of the number of inhabitants since 2007. The decline in the number of people observed for many years has been the result of the negative birth rate (and to a much lesser degree migration). The decline, however, does not have a decisive impact on the city current development capacity.

The characteristics of the labour market in Łódź still show the negative effects of the economic transformation from the early 1990s, when large plants, which constituted the basis of the city textile monoculture, were closed. Despite some positive economic conditions in recent years, unemployment rate in Łódź is still clearly higher than in the other largest Polish cities (in 2019, unemployment rate in Łódź was 4.7%). This situation may be caused, inter alia, by lower attractiveness of the local labour market in comparison to other large agglomerations in the country due to lower wages.

The social problems of the revitalisation area can also be shown on the basis of the number of permanent allowance beneficiaries who also receive child nutrition benefits. The Stare Bałuty and Stary Widzew districts are the areas with the largest number of people with financial problems. Until 2019, a positive phenomenon of a decreasing number of people benefiting from the above-mentioned forms of support was observed, however, the Sars-coV-2 coronavirus pandemic and the related problems of the labour market may disrupt or change this trend.

The analysis of statistics during the delimitation of the revitalisation area indicated that this area does not stand out negatively taking into account the city and even has a lower number of offences than other areas of the city taking into account the population; similarly the issue of domestic violence did not highlighted  the area. There are a higher number of offences such as disorder and drinking alcohol in public places – this is due to the location of these spaces in the city centre.

Based on the available data (or rather the lack of relevant information from the police), it is impossible to determine the number of crimes committed by the area residents, and therefore this phenomenon certainly requires further analysis.

The passivity towards local democratic procedures (e.g. civic budget) is also disturbing, in a situation where the activity of the inhabitants is to be a driving force behind for the revitalisation area.

Spatial and functional sphere
In 2017, the local collective transport system reform was carried out. It was primarily of operational nature, do it did not concern the increase of the transport performance. The reform assumed, inter alia, introducing some bus lines inside housing estates, including those which, despite the high intensity of buildings, had no service so far, and in places where the access zones exceeded the standard distances of 300-400 m. An equal, 12-minute frequency of lines was introduced in rush hour, as well. Efforts were also made to eliminate the overlapping of bus and tram transport over long distances. All the above-mentioned actions, as well as some others, made it possible to introduce such solutions in the field of public transport, which led to the termination of the revitalisation area inhabitants’ transport exclusion.

As in the case of well-kept urban green areas, the proximity of attractive urban spaces is the key to encourage Łódź residents to live in the area of the oldest buildings in the city. It should be noted that the urban regeneration area becomes saturated with attractive public spaces faster and faster. In the described area, there is practically no problem with access to attractive spaces.

• Technical sphere
A significant cause of deaths in Poland is the low emission, i.e. the emission of dust and harmful gases at the height of 40 m. The characteristic feature of this emission is that it is caused by numerous sources of pollutants introduced into the air. Unfortunately, the low innovativeness of the Polish energy sector still forces the use of outdated and non-ecological solutions. That is especially noticeable in Łódź, which has never been supported by a system solution enabling the entire city centre and expanding suburbs to be connected to the district heating network. For this reason, the entire revitalisation area is a site of high levels of harmful low emissions.

There are as many as 3,800 front tenement houses in the revitalised area, in the Historic Urban Core (Strefa Wielkomiejska). Unfortunately, many of these buildings require renovation, which is a necessary condition to attract new residents or investors.

The biggest challenge is the condition of the city’s communal resources located predominantly in the revitalisation area – it is for this reason that Łódź’s revitalisation is based on an extensive programme of renovation of the city’s tenement houses. According to estimates for 2019, if the current legal solutions related to conservation protection are maintained, the cost of renovating the city’s tenement houses will amount to PLN 13 billion. For the above amount, approximately 1,600 properties can be renovated.

• Environmental sphere
Hardly any agglomeration can boast as many parks and green areas as Łódź. There are over 30 parks in the city with a total area of ​​nearly 500 hectares. The inhabitants of Łódź appreciate the proximity of green areas more and more, and this aspect is also becoming more and more important when choosing a place to live. For this reason, in order to increase the attractiveness of the revitalisation area as a place to live, it is necessary to make it green. This applies especially to places away from city parks, in the vicinity of which there are no natural recreation places. According to the Municipal Revitalisation Programme, one of its strategic goals is to revitalise residential areas. That could also be achieved by creating access to greenery, shaded and ventilated places and, if possible, in a given location, equipped with water sources in the form of e.g. street springs These guidelines take also into consideration the need to adapt the revitalisation area to the climate changes.

• Economic sphere
One of the important issues to be implemented by the local government in Lódź is creation and implementation of an effective policy towards the city housing and utility resources, which should be adapted to the requirements of the 21st century. The problem of the revitalisation area is the indebtedness of many business premises, especially in the Stare Polesie and Stare Bałuty districts, and in the vicinity of Kościelny Square. The occurrence of this phenomenon, to a greater or lesser extent, in the entire revitalisation area indicates a poor financial condition of the commercial premises tenants.

Description of the revitalisation area development character

According to data from the pre-2016 analysis, the area is highly diversified in terms of development. There are historic tenement houses, apartment blocks and quarters of single-family houses.

In this area there are over 10,000 building properties. Almost the entire area is a significant spatial concentration of municipal buildings in a poor technical condition. This applies to both residential and non-residential buildings. Only 4% of the buildings belonging to the municipality are in good technical condition.

The vacant flats in the area is estimated at approx. 4 million square metres. In addition, in the Historic Urban Core region, there are about 1,000 empty plots of land, the so-called “wastelands”.

The development of the revitalisation area is also largely affected by the problem of its insufficient network installations, especially the ICT network, which is a very disturbing fact, especially nowadays.

The diagnosis ( also showed a very poor technical condition of the streets, and, at the same time, the fact that the undertaken solutions concentrate on individual car transport. Nowadays there is a need for streets designed for pedestrian traffic and related recreational and cultural functions.

Main revitalisation activities

Eight projects will be created within the revitalisation area of the Łódź Centre.

The project entitled ” The trail of textile architecture. Revitalisation of Księży Młyn” will be done as well.

The projects are co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund within the Regional Operational Programme of the City Łódź  for 2014-2020.

The revitalisation process combines complete building renovation projects with land development projects concerning public spaces such as: reconstruction of streets in order to calm the traffic with accompanying greenery, modernisation of parks, squares, development of courtyards with small infrastructure, creation of recreation and leisure areas for the local residents.

Public spaces will be equipped with greenery and small architecture in the form of urban furniture. Parking places will be transformed into green squares with playgrounds. Tenement houses will gain new functions, not only residential, but also as services located on the ground floor of historic buildings.

These activities are aimed to improve the quality of residents’ lives, as they will have the opportunity to participate in neighbourhood initiatives and events integrating the local community. After redevelopment, the neighbourhood will be a friendly place to live.

Establishment & tools for Special Revitalisation Zone

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