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In addition to the consolidated town fabrics (from yellow to red for predominantly residential areas and shades of purple for manufacturing and business districts), the picture shows some areas of transformation (equalized sections) relating to abandoned areas to be reutilized (Tu) and clear areas in the urban fabric that have already been planned by the current Town Development Plan and are re-designated by the new plan (Ta, Ti). The area bordered by a line of lozenges is subject to the Town Upgrading Programme (PRU). Along the new road network there is a band of landscaping, subject to expropriation, where work is to be done to mitigate its ecological and environmental impact. "> Caption of image of 1999 Town Development Plan for Reggio Emilia Municipal territory zoning (scale 1:5.000)

Reggio Emilia: the 1999 Town Development Plan

Anna Campeol

A Plan Anticipating the Law
The procedural set-up leading to the Town Development Plan being drawn up is marked by a number of major stages that experimented the main themes of the new planning law: from the Progetto di Riordino Urbanistico-Ecologico (ecological-planning rearrangement project) of 1989, to the Preliminary Project of 1994, to the Anticipation variant of 1997, the variants for the high-speed train network and the major road network of 1998-99, to end with the Document of Intent for the Town Development Plan of 1998 and the Special Area Programme of 1999. All these stages utilized the principles, rules and procedures covered in the new town development plan.
While still being anchored to current legislation, the Reggio Emilia plan anticipates the essential aspects of the planning reform:

  1. implementation mechanism chiefly based on equalizing compensation;
  2. new content focused on appraising and upgrading the existing town;
  3. significance vested in environmental resources and values;
  4. the planing process and activating social and institutional interaction and co-planning procedures.

a) Working at a town development plan now involves the awareness of operating in a phase of transition: having to work out a single instrument, simultaneously structural and operative, one needs to pay the utmost attention to excessive public constraints, impossible to implement in the time required by the law. However, by utilizing the compensating equalization implementation mechanism it is possible to tackle this difficulty more easily. By reducing costly constraining acquisitions in favour of free compensating ones, it is possible to maintain high public standards, even with a limited forecast of areas for expropriation. The logic of equalization, assuming criteria of equal juridical treatment of owners in the same conditions for location and choice of plan, is a goal of considerable interest not only at the planning level, but also at social and environmental levels.
The town to be transformed, composed of equalized sections, concerns both clear areas within the urban fabric, already planned by the current plan and to be re-designated, clear suburban areas, and lastly built-up areas that have been abandoned and are to be reutilized.
On the basis of the state of affairs and the rights of these areas, the plan defines identical planning-ecological rules for transformation for each type, including: definition of planning-ecological indices (index of land utilization, maximum heights, indices of permeability, density of trees and shrubs), splitting the area into three parts: Building areas Se, Private green of ecological value Ve, Public compensating green Vp (or division into two parts, Se and Ve for smaller areas), and a "flexible" portion of the intended uses to be defined at the time of implementation. Furthermore, the plan introduces a series of planning guidelines to be observed in the phase of implementation: planning and environmental-ecological rules aimed at ensuring successful planning. As a whole, the Town for Transformation, the built-up area, comprises 881 hectares, of which 509 hectares, equal to 58%, are to be used for public and private green.

b) Attention to urban appraisal is oriented towards the historical town, to safeguard the building types and fabrics, and towards the existing town (consolidated fabric), for which the maintenance procedures have been identified according to morphological rules (to be supplemented with the building regulations) and rules of functional integration: in order to ensure higher quality work. The definition of regulations on urban use is aimed at flexibility for utilizing the existing building heritage, governing the possibility of changing designation in a concrete and essential manner on the basis of the planning burden ascribed to each designation.
Transformation, appraisal and upgrading are consistent with the strategy of saving land and improving the fixed social and environmental heritage. And they lead to utilizing the positive--programmatic and procedural--potential offered by the new tools of implementation (among which the Town Upgrading Programmes, PRU), interpreted not by way of exception, but within the plan. This choice has led to the identification of six spheres of town upgrading to subject to the relevant programmes. The upgrading policy also affects sections of the town road network subject to work of a morphological and functional, public and private nature.

c) The environmental and ecological dimension is the central nucleus of the choices and actions promoted by the plan. Ecological aspects and topics quite rightly belong to the field of attention and concern of the regulations, introducing prescribing and performance rules and identifying policies aimed at ensuring the capacity for ecological regeneration of environmental factors, an increase in the permeability of the land of the town and its use as grassland with significant numbers of trees, shrubs and bushes (enriching the town's green heritage estimated at approximately 60,000 new trees and 100,000 new shrubs), landscaping road and railway infrastructures, integrating settlements and technological networks, installing open spaces, services, environmental and cultural resources, integrating functions and uses both to avoid risks of mono-functionality and phenomena of congestion.

d) The logic of co-planning has involved the various authorities at the different territorial scales of drawing up the plans right from the early '90s. The virtual contemporaneity in drawing up the Territorial Provincial Co-ordination Plan (PTCP) and the Town Development Plan (PRG) involved effective co-ordination between town hall and province in the strategic choices for development. Recently, innovative tools, such as the Special Area Programme, signed in March 1999 by the Emilia Romagna region, the province and municipality of Reggio Emilia, the basis for drawing up a programme agreement, selected priorities for action of a public and private nature. Likewise, the procedure for approving the fourfold increase in the northern major road and rail networks was organized using the new tools of the agreements made at the time of the services conference.