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Reduced number of parking spaces in favour of green meeting places in new EU project

Photo of people in an audience listening to a presenter. At the top is the Share-north logo and the EU-flag.

In the middle of October, the first project partner meeting was held in Helsingborg. The project is about shared and sustainable mobility in new housing developments, and was hosted by Lund University, Campus Helsingborg and the City of Helsingborg. The goal of the project is to create innovative conditions for new residential areas with the preservation of green spaces that enables valuable natural ecosystem services and social meeting places that benefit everyone both visitors and inhabitants.

The EU project, "SHARE-North Squared (SN2): Growing Shared Mobility Exponentially in Housing Developments and Living as a Service", is still in the starting blocks and will continue for four years. It is a continuation of the earlier, recently concluded SHARE-North project. The previous project focused more on urban and rural conditions for shared mobility. The follow-up project has zoomed in to the residential area, more specifically to reduce the need for parking space. The aim is to find out how sustainable mobility can save valuable space in urban environments.

– Squared in the name has a double meaning, it represents both the urban area and the parking space, the area that a car takes in a community, but it also indicates that it is SHARE-North number two, a continuation of the previous project, says Torleif Bramryd, who together with Michael Johansson represents LU and Sweden in the project.

– What mobility choices do we have when living in a city? Is it possible to move from the parking standard of one parking space per household to a lower parking ratio? The aim of the project is to create tomorrow's residential area where fewer parking spaces are needed. By reducing the area designated for parking in a neighbourhood, space can be made available for social activities or aesthetically pleasing green areas with vegetation that absorbs rainwater and reduces the risk of flooding. But just because the number of parking spaces is reduced, the need for mobility does not decrease, says Michael Johansson.

Spaces that benefit everyone

Car sharing services and bike sharing, together with well-functioning public transport and the ability to run errands in the neighbourhood can change people's behaviour towards mobility lifestyles and thus reduce the need for parking. Rather than seeing the disappearance of car parks as a negative factor, attractive housing options should be created, with meeting places that everyone can use, even those who do not have a car. Above all, the preserved green space act as filters for air and noise and prevent rainwater from flooding sewage systems. But they also create opportunities for residents to create garden plots, for example.

– The spirit of the project is not to build houses to store privately owned vehicles, but to create multifunctional spaces in new neighbourhoods, such as using a football pitch as water storage during heavy rainfall and replacing car parks with vegetation or theft-proof bicycle parks, as well as providing pedestrian and cycle paths. It also reduces expensive technical solutions to transport water from one place to another, says Michael Johansson.

– The idea is to create new neighbourhoods with mobility hubs or mobility nodes. To make the place attractive, several service functions are needed. The mobility hub can be developed into a place in the neighbourhood where you change modes of transport, but it is also where you can find a convenience store, collect parcels, or perhaps recycle your glass bottles. Take away parking spaces and suddenly there is room for a nursery school, playground or tennis court. You should be able to run errands on the go and streamline your daily life. “Resursens hus” in Oceanhamnen in Helsingborg is an example of where this type of thinking has been implemented, but which is currently defined as a mobility house, says Torleif Bramryd.

The City of Helsingborg is also an active participant in the project. Together with Lund University, the city has agreed to look at an area in Östra Ramlösa that is in the process of being built, but is currently at an early stage. Another exciting area to look at is Oceanhamnen, which has already built one of several future phases. There is an opportunity to experiment and test different solutions within the framework of the project.

Participants with the power to influence

The participation of the City of Helsingborg and similar actors is something that both Michael Johansson and Torleif Bramryd believe is important for the project.

– What makes the project interesting is that it is not only mobility experts and researchers, but we have architects, urban planners at managerial level, developers, municipal representatives, and decision-makers participating. This particular constellation is important to achieve a positive spillover effect, says Michael Johansson.

– Those who build the houses must be involved so that we can actually understand each other and so that they understand the benefits, says Torleif Bramryd.

The first project meeting

The meeting in Helsingborg, which was the project's first gathering since its creation, was attended by 32 participants. The meeting was a collaboration between Lund University and the City of Helsingborg. Torleif Bramryd and Michael Johansson developed a three-day programme together with the municipality.

The meeting started on Tuesday October 17th at Campus Helsingborg, where principal Charlotta Johansson and Head of Department Mattias Wengelin welcomed the participants to Lund University and Campus Helsingborg. They spent the rest of the days in different locations in Helsingborg, creating dynamic local study visits and also providing an opportunity to showcase the host city. On Wednesday, an open public event was held at the City Hall (Rådhuset). The event focused on how sustainable mobility can change the city to more livable cities with presentations from project participants. The audience included private stakeholders, municipal officials and a local politicians.

About the project

The project involves representatives from Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Norway and Germany. All project partners are required to host similar gatherings during the project and must always send at least one representative to the meetings organised. In addition to two meetings per year, Shared Mobility Rocks and the Summer Academy are also organised to strengthen social interaction in the project group.

The project is funded by the EU and is part of the Interreg North Sea region. The previous project produced a guidebook on shared mobility for planners and policy makers, where each project partner wrote a segment on their experience of benefit to the project.

– We will produce something similar at the end of this project. There is a great need for good examples and to find common denominators between cities and countries," says Michael Johansson.

Read more about the project on the project page.

Read the guidebook from the SHARE-North project.