Aerial view of Scarborough showing the town, fields and sea

Urban and Rural Connectivity in Non-Metropolitan Regions (URRUC)

Funder

European Union
ESPON EGTC

Total value of project

€258,766.13

Value to Coventry University

€75,236.23

Coventry University Project team

Dr Jason Begley, Dr David Jarvis, Dr Andrew Jones, Professor Stewart MacNeill

Collaborators

Politecnico di Torino, Italy (Cotella, G, Scudellari, J, Staricco, L and Vitale Brovarone, E)

Nordregio, Sweden (Grunfelder, J, Kristensen, I and Löfving, L)

University of Valencia, Spain (Ferrandis, A, Noguera, J, Riera, M and Scardaccione, G)

ESPON EGTC (Frideres, L, Rossignol, N and Szabo, A)

ESPON logo

Partners

Scarborough Borough Council, UK (lead stakeholder)

Marina Alta, Spain

Regione Liguria, Italy

Västerbotten County, Sweden


Project overview

Urban-rural linkages and interactions are of vital importance for the future development of European non-metropolitan regions and to achieve the Europe 2020 goals of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The ‘Urban and Rural Connectivity in Non-Metropolitan Regions (URRUC)’ project brought together stakeholders and research institutions from four EU countries (the UK, Spain, Italy and Sweden) to address the challenges of mobility and accessibility in four specific regions within their borders; Scarborough, Valle Arroscia, Marina Alta and Västerbotten County.

The four stakeholder representatives from these regions identified a potential opportunity to improve transport policy and systems related to urban-rural connectivity in non-metropolitan areas by engaging in knowledge transfer processes and activities based on networks of exchange. URRUC helped them identify good practices and generate recommendations for policy makers and stakeholders in their regions with transferable learnings also created for comparable EU regions faced with similar challenges, particularly coastal locations with nearby isolated communities and hinterlands.

Project objectives

The main objective of the project was to contribute to understanding of how to improve connectivity and accessibility in non-metropolitan regions within the EU. The project addressed the challenge of countering under-development in these regions by focusing on four case study areas across four member states within the EU. The four regions focused on were:

  • Scarborough Borough, UK
  • Marina Alta, Spain
  • Valle Arroscia in the Province of Imperia, Italy
  • Västerbotten County, Sweden

The four stakeholders involved in this targeted analysis identified a potential opportunity to improve transport policy and systems related to urban-rural connectivity in non-metropolitan areas by engaging in knowledge transfer processes and activities based on networks of exchange. All four were coastal territories with comparable challenges around transport and connectivity but were also substantially different enough to add value to case study analyses.

  • The project delivered strong evidence of the need for policymakers at all levels of governance to improve funding and support for marginalised or remote EU non-metropolitan regions suffering from accessibility and connectivity challenges.

    While the findings from the project were specific to the four case study areas, the learnings were transferable to other EU non-metropolitan regions hindered in their development by the same socio-economic and spatial barriers to growth.

    A key deliverable from the project was a set of policy tools to enable stakeholders to prioritise and develop connectivity and accessibility solutions based on evidence supplied by the URRUC project. These tools were also of relevance to stakeholders in comparable EU non-metropolitan regions.

  • Recommendations were captured under two broad categories, ‘Specific’ and ‘General’. These overarching themes were then further sub-divided into: ‘Market’, ‘Consumers perceptions’, ‘Stakeholders’, ‘Policy and government’, ‘Economic’, ‘Sociocultural and technological features’. Key recommendations were:

    • The need to strengthen a public transport friendly culture.
    • Encourage the mixed use of transport services.
    • More importance given to improving transport infrastructure to support the tourism sector.
    • Improved governance and transparency (horizontal and vertical).
    • Increased regulatory flexibility (rules and procedures).
    • Promotion of compact urban development.
    • Reverse marginalisation by improving connectivity to metropolitan regions in close proximity.
    • Increase resource availability to support bridging of the digital divide between urban and rural areas.
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