Not far from the capital of Spain, there is a city that was inspired by water. Fuenlabrada is the place where fountains became a symbol since its foundation back in 1375.
The city’s name comes from the Spanish version of “Carved Fountain”. It seems that a place whose name was inspired by urbanisation cannot do anything other than care about its development.
Nowadays, it has become a city to look up to. Fuenlabrada has been chosen for its commitment to building a sustainable, accessible, and quality city through developing a General Urban Planning Project.
“It is a responsibility that our city takes on with pride to demonstrate that transformation processes are necessary for the search for a sustainable and efficient city.”, says Mayor Javier Alaya Ortega. “Fuenlabrada is consolidated – as we are already being recognised even at European level for our social, inclusion and economic development policies – as a city that decisively addresses innovative policies and with the necessary dynamism for their implementation.”
Sustainability as a key
The urban reform, framed as a pilot project for other cities to imitate in the future, is focused on the central district within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda.
Fuenlabrada is defined through the participation of its residents
“The revitalisation of this area is an opportunity of significant impact, transforming, for the new management and planning of the city of the future. The strategy of regeneration and recovery of the consolidated, compact, inclusive and resilient city, in which daily life takes on value again.”, explains Alaya Ortega.
The transformation, modernisation and dynamisation of the most emblematic area of the city – a total area of 706,000 square meters – will have an impact on the entire municipality. The council will place parks, improve energy efficiency in housing blocks, put in place circular economy projects, and a new Urban Sustainable Mobility Plan. Among others: promotion of public electric vehicles, installation of electric recharging points, development of new bike lanes and promotion of this means of transport, etc.
“These sustainable actions must also be efficient”. The plan’s objective is to value the city’s urban area, which has suffered degradation and obsolescence. With that aim, urban and building rehabilitation works are designed from economic, social, and environmental points of view.
A transformation for coexistence
The project includes the use of lots in the centre, the construction of a large walkway that crosses public transport lines, a linear park parallel to it and the transfer of an industrial estate in the vicinity. In a few words: it boosts the regeneration of the city.
To sum up: the redevelopment works plan to improve public space, and this transformation “directly affects people’s progress, favouring personal development, the inclusion of the most vulnerable people, creating spaces for coexistence and generating new opportunities for activity,” adds the Mayor.
Indeed, the works aim to convert the area into a meeting space and neighbourhood coexistence. In addition, the city’s Urban Regeneration Plan complements a housing rehabilitation policy and an improvement in energy efficiency. Some of these works planned have already been completed.
The transformation directly affects people’s progress, favouring personal development, the inclusion of the most vulnerable people, creating spaces for coexistence and generating new opportunities for activity.
“All these challenges involve transforming the city to improve it, trying to use sustainability and promote the environment: the quality of the air we breathe, the sustainability of transport as backbones, reconciling it with the mobility needs of the city. Generating public spaces to share, enjoy and include, favouring economic and social development and progress, facilitating access to culture and sports, improving the quality of life of the elderly and eliminating difficulties for the most vulnerable,” summarises the Mayor of Fuenlabrada.
“Last but not least, this process must be carried out with great social support based, fundamentally, on opening the participation of citizens in the methods of design, decision, implementation and evaluation of public policies and, specifically, in the city’s transformation projects.”
The project is also intended to achieve urbanism closer to the citizens and more understandable. Ayala Ortega praises Fuenlabrada’s citizens’ movement shaped by more than 500 associations and different participation channels such as the Social Council of the City or the Table of Coexistence. “Fuenlabrada is defined through the participation of its residents.”
The Table of Coexistence is an example of this citizen participation. Made up of more than 30 associations from various fields (cultural, regional, sectorial, migrants, etc.), it actively collaborates in the design of policies that favour coexistence in the city, in this case through the involvement in the design and development of this urban project.
In addition to other channels of consultations such as surveys, groups discussions, suggestions and stable proposals, Fuenlabrada count on different councils in which the associations of the municipality participate and bring in points of collection of information, demand, monitoring and evaluation.
A (green) step beyond
Also, Fuenlabrada ensured its commitment by signing an Accord on sustainable cities launched by Greenpeace.
This process must be carried out with great social support based, fundamentally, on opening the participation of citizens in the methods of design, decision, implementation and evaluation of public policies.
The pact describes establishing a 15-minute city model (access to essential urban services within the time walk or bike) that allows greater security and proximity. Concerning mobility, the agreement promotes sustainable commuting, the realisation of an urban design adapted to the City 30 concept (limit the number and severity of accidents by reducing speed to less than 30km/h), or to continue developing anti-pollution protocols.
The pact is committed to granting greater prominence to people, public services, green areas, and local consumption. The document also highlights the importance of city councils when it comes to fighting climate change and emphasises the importance of collaborating and cooperating between city councils.
So, the Spanish city commits to long term policies in areas such as urban planning, mobility, or infrastructures to achieve a more sustainable city in which people have the leading role.