People over high-profile projects: Budapest’s new development strategy unveiled

People over high-profile projects: Budapest’s new development strategy unveiled

New municipal housing agency, more green areas per capita, rejuvenation of rust zones, and decrease in the number of fatal traffic accidents. These are some of the highlights of the recently unveiled Budapest Development strategy until 2027.

The new Budapest Development Strategy, outlining the city administration’s vision for the Hungarian capital until 2027, has been prepared with the active participation of residents and, because of the pandemic, using digital solutions. Presenting the strategic document earlier at the House of Contemporary Arts in Trafó, Mayor Gergely Karácsony announced that the capital will establish its own housing agency. He also promised that, thanks to the implementation of the strategy, there will be more green areas per capita, rust zones may again become full of life, and the number of fatal traffic accidents will decrease.

Residents’ feedback

In 2020, the city administration invited the people of Budapest to give their opinion about what kind of city they want to live in. Summing up the resident’s responses, Karácsony said that 90 percent of respondents considered transparency in public affairs to be of paramount importance, with 88 percent wanting a direct say in projects undertaken in the city.  According to the mayor, the time for grandiose and self-serving infrastructural developments that are detrimental to the interests of the people has come to an end.  

"Really good city policy is not about high-profile investments, but about people: where the promenade should lead to a park, what kind of slide should be installed in a playground, how to save, and how to repurpose an abandoned warehouse building in a rust zone," said Gergely Karácsony, quoted by the municipal web page.

Solution to the city woes

The document, which covers the medium-term vision of the capital and the ways of implementing it, provides a solution to many of Budapest's acute problems. These include the need to relocate to the agglomeration, housing problems that affect not just the poor, extremely low air quality, and deteriorating traffic conditions.

For example, the average Budapest driver wastes a full week a year spent in traffic jams, and every week there are traffic accidents involving fatal or serious injuries on the roads of the capital. Therefore, the strategy sets as a priority halving the number of such accidents, as well as reducing the city's carbon footprint. 

To alleviate housing problems, the capital is setting up its own housing agency, among other measures. The aim is that by 2027, at least 2,500 dwellings will be managed by this institution that pledges to provide users with rental housing on a social basis. The capital also wants to have 50,000 new homes built in seven years, primarily in brownfield areas, so as to provide a decent and affordable home for everyone who wants to live there. The rejuvenation of such rust zone will also rely on improved transport connectivity to the city centre, and the Pest spinning tram is a good example.

More green space per person

Also part of the plans is renovation of the Budapest Quays, to make them more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, and expansion of the green spaces in general. By the end of the decade, all Budapest residents will be enriched with an extra 1 sq m of green space per person.

The strategy until 2027 will be adapted to the EU budget cycle.  But, emphasized the Mayor, it can really prevail if the city dwellers have their say not only in its planning, but implementation as well. 

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