With the construction of the southern re-routing of the R43, main traffic in future goes around instead of through the centre of Eeklo. This led to a study assignment for the transformation of the old route into a 'car-free' city promenade. Sweco and its partners developed a specific project management for this study and a participatory process tailored to Eeklo, the project and the long turn around of the project.
Client: City of Eeklo
After the introduction of the R43 as a ring road around Eeklo, the reconstruction of the main structural and visually prominent public space provides opportunities for the upgrading of the centre. All parties involved experience a strong sense of 'urgency' that brings the city promenade alive as an idea and opportunity. The creation of a city promenade for Eeklo is conceived as an urban statement. To underpin the vision for the city promenade, it is necessary to take a step back and look at the entire surroundings. In this way, we are also working on a position transcending identity and we’re putting Eeklo more assertively on the map as a high quality, regionally responsible, small urban area.
Design is a process and Sweco always has a habit of building phases of reflection into its planning processes. By means of progressive insight, participation and consultation with stakeholders, adjustments are always possible and sometimes necessary. In the study for the City Promenade in Eeklo, this critical (self-)reflection was formalised in a specific planning process tailored to Eeklo. Due to the long turnaround time of the project, the emphasis here is on the interaction between the design process and an autonomous operating consultancy and reflection body or ‘think tank’ for the building in of critical reflection during key stages (benchmarks) in the planning process.
A specific communication and participation plan with 3 tracks was drawn up for the study of the City Promenade in consultation with the partners and the city of Eeklo. The purpose of this plan is to clearly describe the information flows, cooperation structures and consultation models so that the expectations and desired results are aligned. At the start of the project, the preconditions and the level of ambition were laid down in a charter which will work through the policy legislatures as reference framework for the project. For each legislature, the management may set their own priorities but the basis of the plan remains intact and has been discussed extensively with the players and the population concerned.
For the smooth flow of the communication and participation process, there is a moderator working alongside a project manager for the consultation and participation moments during the entire planning process.
Reflection and quality: Thinking, testing and deepening
Specifically for the City Promenade project, in addition to the more familiar forms of project and participant consultation, a third reflective track was set out in accordance with the information and assessment of the project at key meetings of urban advisory councils (GECORO, economic council, environmental council, traffic council, monument preservation care, youth council, senior council). One of the objectives hereof is to keep this form of feedback clear-cut in a joint plenary reflection moment (thematic) with a so-called reflection group.