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Sustainable Spatial Development

REFINA - Integrated residential location information as a contribution to reduce land consumption (2006- 2010)

Despite stagnating housing markets in many regions, the spatial development is still characterised by the suburbanisation of households and their choice of non-integrated residential locations. This causes a number of problems, e.g. extensive land consumption, increasing traffic volume, and high infrastructure costs. At the same time, the results of population surveys show that location decisions might be influenced by better information on the negative individual effects of suburbanisation (car dependency, transport costs, insufficient local shopping and service facilities etc.). This opens up chances for an active communication and urban development policy of cities. The project focuses on the following research question:

Can comprehensive and independent information affect residential location decisions of private households in favour of integrated and less land-consuming locations?

The nucleus of the project are two tools complementing each other for residential location information and advice. The first tool is a GIS-oriented, internet-based housing information system. The second tool is an individual, personal residential location consultancy for house-hunters. Both of the tools aim at informing households that plan to move about characteristics of various urban neighbourhoods on a small-scale level, e.g. shopping and leisure facilities, schools, public transport, housing price level, or the social composition in the neighbourhood. They are targeted at finding neighbourhoods that fit the location preferences of the respective household. The two tools are recently in the process of implementation in the two case cities Schwerin and Wilhelmshaven. The potential of the tools will be evaluated in the project.
The tools will be prepared and accompanied by a number of analytical modules that improve our understanding of the reasons for suburbanisation and intra-regional migration to peripheral locations as well as of the decision structures preceding migration. Housing and location requirements and preferences, experiences after relocation, and motives of return migrants into the cities will be analysed for different user groups (e.g. household types) and processed for the consultancy. To ensure the success of the tools, a marketing strategy is developed recently.
The suggested approach focuses on the demand side and the individual concerns of the house-hunters. It abandons therefore the established measures to reduce land consumption that are more (spatial) structurally or economically oriented. Both these strategies tended to fail in the past due to the (seemingly) opposed concerns of private households, investors and local authorities. The information-based approach is effective within the existing settlement stock. It causes little costs, and provides an interface between the structural concepts of "classical" planning and the private households' acting. It supplements spatial concepts and helps to make more effective use of such concepts.
The analysis and implementation in two regions facilitates a substantially better evaluation of spatial transferability of the results and the developed instruments as well as a better evaluation of the relevance of local specifics.

The project is a collaboration of the IRPUD with the Department of Transport Planning, Büro für Integrierte Planung Berlin, plan-werkStadt (Bremen), DV - Gesellschaft des Deutschen Verbandes für Wohnungswesen, Städtebau und Raumordnung, the capital of the Bundesland Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Schwerin and the city of Wilhelmshaven. The project coordinator is Christian Holz-Rau (Department of Transport Planning).

Contact: Univ.-Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Hans H. Blotevogel, Dipl.-Ing. Björn Schwarze

Further information: http://www.wohnstandortberatung.de/

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