- At a double technical conference held in Bilbao, both European projects exchanged experiences and good practices to be applied in their urban regeneration services.
The experience gained in the two years of Opengela’s work in the Basque Country has served as inspiration for the REGENERATE Illes Balears project, which has recently started its housing regeneration programme in Menorca, the city of Palma de Mallorca and the town of Ibiza. The partners of both projects, which are funded by the European Commission, met at a double technical conference held on 20 and 21 July in Bilbao, where they exchanged experiences and good practices in the field of urban regeneration.
The Basque Government, together with Bilbao Municipal Housing, Debegesa and Lasarte-Oria Town Council, hosted the visit, which included various presentations on the technical and socio-economic aspects of the Opengela programme. Among the topics discussed, financing was the responsibility of GNE, Opengela’s partner organisation, which also coordinates the REGENERATE project. In this regard, Borja Gumuzio explained that one of the objectives is to try to ensure that vulnerable households receive 100% financing for the energy renovation of their homes.
In addition, Opengela representatives accompanied Cristina Gómez, Menorca’s island councillor for Employment, Housing and Local Cooperation, and Josep Maria Rigo, director general for Housing of Palma de Mallorca City Council, on their visits to the neighbourhood office in Otxarkoaga (Bilbao) and the operational neighbourhood office in Basaundi, a neighbourhood in Lasarte-Oria (Gipuzkoa) where the city council is promoting a project similar to the Opengela programme.
At the Otxar Opengela, the Balearic representatives learned first-hand about the urban regeneration services developed in 16 portals and 240 homes in the Bilbao neighbourhood, which include attention to the neighbourhood’s residents, support in administrative procedures, relations with related professionals and the channelling of aid. In the municipality of Lasarte-Oria (Gipuzkoa), the Balearic representatives were received by David Mateos, second deputy mayor and councillor for Public Services of the City Council, who presented the service offered by the neighbourhood office in the Basaundi neighbourhood, while they also visited the area of action and the works carried out in terms of rehabilitation of the public pavement.
Opengela and REGENERATE, two European projects with one goal: urban regeneration
The Opengela project was launched in 2019 with the support of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme with 1.7 million euros. Led by the Basque Government’s Department of Territorial Planning and Urban Agenda, Opengela seeks to improve the quality of life in cities through urban regeneration. It consists of the creation of neighbourhood offices that, as a one-stop shop, accompany the neighbourhood throughout the process of rehabilitating their buildings. Otxarkoaga (in Bilbao) and Txonta (Eibar) are the pilots, and the process to replicate the model in other places has already begun.
For its part, the REGENERATE Illes Balears project also has the support of the European Commission through Horizon2020, which has granted two million euros for the development of a programme to promote the urban rehabilitation of the housing stock, with the aim of combating climate change, facilitating universal accessibility and increasing the comfort of its inhabitants.