Local endogenous development
and urban regeneration of small alpine towns



Form 1 - Partner’s introduction

Name of the partner

Office of the provincial government of Lower Austria Department Spatial planning and regional policy.

Institutional role of the partner

(General information on all sectors of competence and degree of administrative capacity).

Provincial authority.

Name of the sector in charge of managing AlpCity

Agency for regeneration of towns in Lower Austria.

Landeskoordinierungsstelle für Stadterneuerung in Niederösterreich.

EU-P1 Niederösterreich

Role of the sector within the partner's administrative structure

(Information on specific competences, policies and services).

The agency for regeneration of towns gives the general conditions, handles the government subsidies, controls the whole process and manages the subsidies of the European Union. Another task of the agency is giving professional inputs to the program and taking care of further development in new spheres of action.

Partner's expected benefits from the participation to AlpCity

Promotion of networks and cooperation in public services to improve quality of life and the effectiveness of public services in small alpine towns. In this case, it will be a network of public mulitmedia libraries and a network of participation projects for young people "network youth".

Equal opportunities for small alpine cities, like access to knowledge or chances for economic development have to be created.

AlpCity gives the chance to exchange experiences within Europe in the field of urban development in small alpine cities. Rapidly changing times require new strategies to provide quality of life and economic development in the rural regions of Europe.

Indicate the WPs (5-8) in which the partner will undertake local case-projects (and if the partner is WP responsible)

Lower Austria is responsible for WP 6.
2 Project-cases: services/quality of life.

Organisational expectations from the participation to one or more specific WP5-8 (case-projects)

(The WP must have internal rules? Which ones? How do you see the role of the WP responsible? How do you think exchange of experiences within the WP should be promoted? What could be the ways to structure the WP: distinct meetings, news by email? Others?).

Lower Austria part is implying the overall monitoring of workpackage objectives and common outputs, methods of work, promotion of specialist meetings; effort to integrate between WPs 5-8 activities the transnational activities under this work package. Furthermore we coordinate the national projects.

National: Exchange of experience will be very important:

  • Distinct meetings with face to face communication will happen as well as e-mail contact with our partners. Meetings or news letters should be regular.
  • We will provide an Internet web page under where national and transnational meetings and results will be published.
  • We expect to be online in June 2004.
  • Links to other partners homepages are very welcome!
  • The progress of the national projects should be reported regularly by the partners.
  • The part of the coordinating body will be to provide a platform, where communication and exchange of experience will be possible.

Expectations from the work of AlpCity Scientific Steering activities
  • Advice on sustainable communication strategies within AlpCity partners.
  • Assessment of methodological approach.
  • Evaluation of projects.

Form 2 - Description of the concerned territory (geographic and/or institutional areas)

Administrative areas within the region

(What are the administrative levels within the region for different policy, planning, and project purposes? What are the different competences within these areas? What is the relationship between these levels and the small towns? The mountains?).

Lower Austria has diversified planning levels according to its policy of strengthening grass root activities. Lower Austria is a federal state of Austria and a region on NUTS II-level. It is divided into 5 main regions for regional planning. Each planning region consists of 3 to 5 districts, where regional administrative action takes place.

The local municipalities form a strong administrative body, mostly from 800 up to 2000 inhabitants. Most planning activities took place on this level for the last years, now more an more activities start on small regional level (4 - 10 municipalities) formed by voluntary cooperation.

Small towns in Lower Austria have 3000 - 10.000 inhabitants and often are the cores of regional processes. Small towns often have a strong influence on their region, due to economic importance and are mostly situated at the best geographic site within the region.

Brief description of the mountain character within the whole partner's territory

(Examples: what part is covered by mountains, what are the types of mountain (high, medium, low), which is the quota of the population living in mountain areas, what is the role of the mountain areas in the regional economy, etc.).

The mountainous regions of Lower Austria are located in the western and southern part of the country. The East Alps are ending here at the border of the Danube. East and south of Vienna there are rather flat areas of 200 metres above sea level, the north-eastern part (Weinviertel) consist mostly of hills up to 500 metres, the north-western part (Waldviertel) is covered by forest and extensive agriculture up to 1000 metres, the southern and south western areas are reaching up to more than 2000 metres.

Approximately 40 % (600.000 people) of the population of Lower Austria lives in mountainous regions. The mountains play a very strong role for traffic and limits for economic development.

Structure of the towns within the region

(Examples: size, hierarchy, demographic and economic changes, main social and economic problems).

In general, towns in Lower Austria gain more importance due to constant additional population from rural areas. Towns in the mountains are facing loss of importance compared to the rather "booming" villages, towns and cities in the flat areas, especially around Vienna. Typical mountain towns are centres for their rural surrounding, have a good social structure and a rich cultural life. Young, well trained people cannot find adequate jobs and so leave for the strong economic areas. Sometimes these people restore their old family homes as second residences or come back when living on retirement. Economic development comes late to these towns and is the main reason for constant drain.

Names of all administrative area/s involved in the case-projects

The most important administrative bodies involved in this project of creating networks concerning youth and libraries are the local municipalities. We will begin with some partners on different starting positions in order to gain widespread knowledge. We will keep the networks open for other towns to join in.

The activities are communicated to the responsible departments dealing with libraries and youth to ensure follow-up actions and coordinated regional progress. The department of culture of Lower Austria and the department for youth will be involved.

Number of inhabitants in these areas

As the number of local municipalities as network partners is not limited it is difficult to estimate the number of involved inhabitants. In each network it will be at least 20.000 people.

Specific issues on the structure of the towns in these mountain areas

Two main issues hindering progress in small alpine towns are lack of economic development and the "brain" drain by loss of well trained young people. Therefore two networks (libraries and youth) will be started to overcome some effects of these general trends.

Economic characteristics of these towns
(Regional, international or local functions)

The towns in the mountainous regions provide all necessary goods and services for everyday life of their inhabitants and the rural surrounding. Often there are still handcrafts and shops, which don't exist anymore in more "booming" areas.
Traditional structures are conserved by the rather conservative views of the local opinion leaders. These towns know about their importance for their region and try to face global changes in a very responsible and serious way. External professional input is highly recommended and needed for social and economic innovation.

Social image of the mountains within the region

(Examples: symbolic values attached to the mountains, level of attractiveness for residential and/or leisure time activities, level of repulsiveness, differences among community and social groups. Please comment your replies!).

In general, small alpine towns are very proud of their landscape, the mountains and the good physical living conditions. They consider themselves to lead a sustainable lifestyle and there is a strong relation to the possibilities offered by their environment. Mountains in Lower Austria offer a wide range of activities, for spending free time, for relaxing etc. Young people feel sometime cut off from the latest trends seen on TV and the Internet and are dreaming of leaving their "narrow-minded" home.

Policies for the mountain

(Is there a specific legislation concerning mountain areas? E.g. national, regional, other levels. What are the main points? Please indicate also the references and dates. Besides legal instruments, is there a specific partner's political approach vis-ŕ-vis the mountains? What are the objectives? What are differences with other areas/regions?).

Compared to other fields of interest, mountains do not play a major role in politics in Lower Austria, because Lower Austria does not feel "mountainous" compared to other provinces in Austria, e.g. Tyrol. These areas are included in Lower Austria in "rural areas". There are of course many political statements and treaties to preserve nature and natural conditions in mountainous regions, mainly to prevent major catastrophes for the more important flat areas.

According to the strong efforts to support bottom-up projects by the state, there is a constant financial flow to these "poorer" regions. Living conditions in these disadvantaged regions should be improved in order to prevent further population decrease. Economic efforts from outside the region - bringing big enterprises to these regions - have mostly failed in the long run. Endogenous regional development has diminished the differences between "booming" and disadvantaged areas a little bit during recent years and this policy will be further pursued.