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Nitra Gallery, Source: Lestat (Jan Mehlich) on Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Nitra’s new zoning plan aims to involve citizens in the city’s future

Nitra’s new zoning plan aims to involve citizens in the city’s future

The main goal of authorities is to have as many citizens actively involved in making the decisions for their own future

The Nitra town hall is preparing an assignment for the elaboration of a new zoning plan with its own idea, which is in line with the starting points and trends recognizable at the global and local level that are affecting the city. The 2003 zoning plan has undergone six amendments to date, which is a clear signal that society is changing and therefore the city must respond comprehensively. "Emotionally, we are at a turning point, when Nitra is changing from an agricultural centre to an industrial city," says Viktor Šabík, the city's chief architect.

Engaging everyone for change

The first step of the long process for preparing the plan was the creation of a coordination group. It consists of architects, landscape architects, traffic engineers and other experts who represent the interested departments of the municipal office in Nitra.

The professional public is represented by members of the Commission of the Municipal Council in Nitra for spatial planning, architecture, public space and investment activities. Academia, meanwhile, is represented by experts from the Slovak University of Agriculture.

Finally, for ordinary citizens, local officials have begun working on an effective tool to involve them in the discussions and help them engage in the debate. "The simplest would be a survey from which we would get answers to the questions asked. What we want to achieve is a discussion," says Šabík.

In Slovakia, no city has sufficient experience with the active participation of the population in creating such a strategic document to such an extent. Due to the pandemic, however, officials had to go the digital route instead of embracing face-to-face meetings.

From the beginning of the process of preparing a new zoning plan, the city aimed to inform the Nitra public about all starting points, trends, principles and goals in a sufficiently broad and understandable way. Due to the strict measures, the city has chosen a website for wider communication, which offers adequate space for all who want to contribute their views, suggestions and comments to the elaboration of the assignment.

The site is intended to be a tool for citizens to offer them input into the creation of assignments for the developer of the spatial plan and a place of cultivated debate on urbanism, mobility and related topics. "Our vision is an interactive platform on which citizens learn about the basic challenges and dilemmas facing the city. From our point of view, the website should therefore become a living material, not a static document," concludes Šabík.

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