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Sustainable Urban Fringes (SURF)

Aims of Surf

The project SURF is a 3-year, €4.68m, project of 12 partners  across the North Sea Region of the EU including city and provincial councils and universities. It aims to identify ways that urban fringe areas can contribute more effectively to the economic development and competitiveness of urban areas whilst promoting environmental sustainability and social cohesion.

The project is designed to find ways to ensure that the value of urban fringe areas to the towns and cities that they surround is properly recognised, planned for and managed. In particular the project aims optimise the contribution of urban fringes to the continued wellbeing, growth and competitiveness of the cities they surround, taking into account biodiversity, urban amenity, sport and recreation and 'environmental services', e.g. the urban fringe role in flood risk management and climate change effects.

The SURF project links directly to earlier work by CUDEM on urban periphery spaces including green infrastructure in the 'countryside in and around towns' for the Countryside Agency/ Natural England and to earlier CUDEM Interreg projects on peri-urban green spaces. Based on this expertise the Urban Fringe Study Group in CUDEM  will coordinate the research and analysis elements of SURF.

The Leeds City Region will be one of the SURF case study localities for comparison against other EU city regions such as Hamburg, Antwerp, Twente/ Enschede and Aberdeen. SURF is already well represented through the Aire Valley Partnership of Bradford CC and Leeds Beckett Uni and it is intended to develop a wider SURF network in the region to explore the issues and strategies around urban fringe sustainability and competitiveness. The lessons from this network will be shared with city regions internationally to develop ideas for future strategies.

The SURF Programme

The Project takes place over three years commencing September 2009. It is divided into three 'work packages', with the analytical work package led by Leeds Beckett University.

The UK is represented by:

  • Bradford City Council (Aire Valley Partnership),
  • Aberdeen City Council,
  • Norwich County Council and,
  • Leeds Beckett University's Urban Fringe Study Unit within CUDEM.

Saxion University in the Netherlands and Leeds Beckett University are the academic partners.

Contacts for the Urban Fringe Study Unit (UFSU):

  • Kevin Thomas (coordinator and project manager)
  • Steve Littlewood (research manager)
  • ichelle Wishardt (research and administrator)

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