Priority Axis 1: Sustainable and Integrated Urban Development


“Sustainable development is development that delivers basic environmental, social and economic services to all residents of a community without threatening the viability of the natural, built and social systems upon which the delivery of these services depends”.

This priority axis seeks to support a range of interventions that together will help on improving competitiveness of cities and urban functional areas in terms of providing conditions for successful and sustainable urban areas, cohesive in themselves to generate opportunities for each other and for their surrounding areas. Under this priority axis, it is essential to improve the attractiveness and competitiveness of cities ensuring adequate quality of life and basic level services taking into account the preservation of their environmental potential. Public investments will be oriented to upgrade and extend the provision of key infrastructures for the urban systems that will sustain urban areas as cohesive growth centres.

The interventions will be oriented towards the practical implementation of NSRF Priority 4 “Balanced Territorial Development”. The urbanization issues are of increasing importance for the current programming period both from European and national perspective. Development of major cities will contribute and advance their capacity to foster and disseminate development across the regions, integrating the surrounding territories and the less urbanised areas and accelerating their economic, social, spatial and environmental potential. In the peripheral areas, in the absence of large cities, promotion of the existing medium-size and small cities is necessary through a targeted state policy in order to help them compensate the absence of large cities through their own accelerated development. Processes of urban concentration are to be managed with a view to ensure satisfactory territorial outcomes, overall regional competitiveness and cohesion.

The policy of sustainable urban development should become more effective by better taking into account the potential of urban areas and the challenges facing them. There should be four inter-dependent policies, targeted at:

  • strengthening economic prosperity, labour market and employment in towns and cities;
  • promoting equality, social inclusion and regeneration in urban areas;
  • protecting and improving the urban environment, including energy and transport management towards local and global sustainability and
  • contributing to good urban governance and local empowerment through elaboration and implementation of strategic integrated urban regeneration and development plans.

The future of the towns and cities depends on fighting growing poverty, promotion of social inclusion and stemming the loss of certain urban functions. Both the reconstruction and regeneration of neglected areas and derelict sites in urban areas and surrounding areas will be promoted. Through integration of urban functions in a city, all citizens will have appropriate access to their living places, basic services and facilities, open spaces, general and professional education and health care of good quality. This also includes the conservation and development of small planted areas in urban green spaces, which have both ecological and important social functions.

The state of the networks of the technical infrastructure and public works does not meet adequately urban requirements and obstructs the functioning of the cities. The physical environment and the housing stock are heavily depreciated. Coordinated efforts are urgently needed for Bulgarian cities and will be addressed respectively.

The vulnerable groups in the Bulgarian society include disabled people, ethnic minorities, and especially Roma minority group, children and families at risk, people dependent on social allowances, people living in specialised institutions, elderly people, long-term unemployed, victims of trafficking, drug addicts and homeless people.

Recognising the predominance of the Roma people in urban low-income neighbourhoods and the particularly critical conditions of their housing and public services, the proposed priority axis will have a special focus on this ethnic minority. Particular attention will be given to the revitalisation of neighbourhoods with dominant Roma population in order to promote their social inclusion, prevent crime and ensure calm living conditions for the citizens.

Housing policy is an important part of the urban environment. For this reason, investments will be encouraged to revitalise and refurbish the building stock of the multi-family residential buildings, to renovate the prefabricated panel residential buildings and to establish important social housing facilities (low-cost houses for vulnerable groups, social homes, etc.) in support of the social function of the cities’ authorities.

The mobility in and between the city centres is of vital importance for the quality of life, labour, accessibility and efficiency and therefore for better economic competitiveness. Public transport is of key importance for intra-city mobility and effective urban operability. Traffic regulation and management in larger cities will be improved and better opportunities for parking of vehicleswill be provided. This will equip the urban centres with well planned and integrated transport systems which promote economic and social cohesion within the cities, connect the remote neighbourhoods with the city centres, thus assisting the access to labour markets and facilitating the dynamics of cultural and social life.

This priority axis will promote implementation of the integrated urban development policy approach with particular attention to fighting social exclusion and the improvement and regeneration of the physical urban environment, thus contributing to an effective implementation of the EU Territorial Agenda and  the Leipzig Charter on Sustainable European Cities. This will include the improvement of economic, social, housing and natural environment and service infrastructure of cities considered as focal points for regional development, in order to increase their attractiveness for mobile investment.

The integrated approach will be pursued on the basis of the existing Municipal Development Plans, Master Plans and Detailed Spatial Plans, which  set up the exact provisions for the integrated territorial development of the municipalities and the urban area taking into consideration that:

  • the provisions, which define the common structure and the predominant functions of the territories, the type and functions of the technical infrastructure, the protection of environment and the preservation of the sites of cultural and historical heritage are obligatory while developing the Master plans and
  • the Municipal Development Plans define the objectives and the priorities for the development of the municipalities as well as the financial resources for their achievement on the basis of the pre-existing Master plans.
  • The OPRD will use the Master Plans, Municipal Development Plans and District Development Strategies as a prerequisite for eligibility (all projects should be in compliance with those planning documents).

During this programming period support will be provided under operation 1.3 to elaborate integrated urban regeneration and development plans (on the basis of the existing Master Plans and Municipal Development Plans) in order to achieve more enhanced integrated approach during the following programming period (2014-2020).

The investment opportunities under this priority axis will be open to all municipalities that fall under the definition of urban agglomeration area. Municipalities can access all operations under the priority axis individually.

Under priority axis 1 (specifically for operations 1.1 and 1.2) any refurbishment or reconstruction of buildings will aim at improving the energy performance, in accordance with Directive 2002/91/EC. The use of renewables will be taken into account, and where central heating is used, the energy efficiency of the heat supply will be addressed at the same time. Within the envisaged activities, more attention will be paid to energy savings, energy efficiency and use of renewable energy resources. Furthermore, the extent of using energy savings, energy efficiency or use of renewable energy resources in the projects will be an important criterion for selection of projects.

Therefore, interventions under this priority axis for energy efficiency measures and actions to prevent against floods, combate fire and increase the environmental performance of the public transport system will contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to pursuing the objective of the Energy Policy for Europe “Promoting environmental sustainability and combating climate change”. 

Interventions under this priority axis can be implemented through aggregating additional investment funds using the JESSICA financial engineering instrument. The JESSICA initiative targets PPPs or other revenue generating urban projects included in integrated urban regeneration and development plans, with a view to achieve leverage and recycling for OPRD resources invested in such projects. This initiative also offers the possibility to take advantage of outside financial and managerial expertise from specialist institutions such as the EIB, the Council of Europe Development Bank and other international financial institutions, to create stronger incentives for successful implementation by beneficiaries, by combining grants with loans and other financial tools. JESSICA allows a continuous availability of funds and is expected both to leverage substantial amounts of investment into areas in need of economic and social cohesion and to speed up their integrated development.

Specific objective

To promote sustainable, cohesive, accessible urban centres attractive to residents, visitors, investors, mobile workers and that act as motors to more competitive regions.

Operations to be supported

The following kinds of operations will be supported under this priority axis:

Operation 1.1: Social Infrastructure

Operation 1.2: Housing

Operation 1.3: Improvement of Physical Environment and Risk Prevention

Operation 1.4: Sustainable Urban Transport Systems

Last modified: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 2:45 PM