New Planning Approaches Mentoring: Meet the replicating Municipality of Irbid, Jordan

The Municipality of Irbid in Jordan is benefiting, in the framework of the Urban Transports Community's Mentorship Programme, from the experience of the pioneer city of Thessaloniki in Greece on the topic of new planning approaches.

Watch the interview with the Mentor here

 

The objectives of the mentoring program in Irbid are to improve the environmental conditions and the use of low-carbon transport modes in the pilot area through the development and projection of alternative low-carbon mobility scenarios. This will facilitate the city council decision making and set the ground for the implementation of concrete targeted solutions. The project also seeks to foster the consultation and participation of local stakeholders to generate ownership on the solutions chosen. These proposals and scenarios will be based on the promotion of active mobility, discourage the use of the private vehicle and improvement of the delivery of freight, among several others. The project has to provide for sustainable (economic, social and environmental) viable alternatives to achieve an improvement of the different transport modes and guarantee better accessibility and intermodality, searching to increase the demand of the public transport and active modes and thus improving the quality of life of the citizens of the area and the rest of Irbid. The municipality has a strong interest to gain knowledge and know-how on the use of modelling and planning tools, and on the use of new technologies to facilitate the participation and consultation of the general public. 

The project is divided into four main tasks, which consist of:

  • Assessment of the environmental performance, use of land, mobility and accessibility, safety and security conditions of the pilot intervention area.
  • Public consultation to identify the needs of the pilot area and design of alternative scenarios favoring the use of low-carbon modes of transport.
  • Identify replicable features of the Pioneer case and provide recommendations on their adaptation to the replicator context.
  • Knowledge transfer.

The first phase (task A) of the project has produced a first assessment or profile of the pilot area analysing its performance in terms of environmental, use of land, mobility, accessibility, safety and security conditions. The public consultation (task B) was prepared and planned ahead of a first expert visit to Irbid in July 2021. As part of task C, bilateral meetings between the mentoring parties have been and will continue to be held. These meetings aim at better understanding the pioneer (Thessaloniki) case and identifying and transferring lessons and recommendations for the replicator (Irbid).

Two peer to peer meetings have been organised involving Greater Irbid Municipality and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in the months of May and July 2021. In the first meeting, it was interesting to understand the experience of the Pioneering City, Thessaloniki in Greece, in the conduction of a participative process in order to face the urban redesign of one of the principal roads of the city, which faces congestion issues, following the general SUMP concepts, as part of the REMEDIO project. The vision and objectives were developed thanks to public consultation to record stakeholders’ and citizens’ opinions and technical processing with relevant experts. The active involvement of stakeholders in planning helped create ownership on the final solution. Some of the main aspects with an added value in terms of exchange and synergies between both entities include : The use of a REMEDIO-owned tool : as part of the REMEDIO Project, Thessaloniki was involved in the development and use of an interesting, powerful yet easy-to-use tool: IMT (“Integrated Modelling Tool”). This tool was used to test the different proposals prepared for the Thessaloniki case, and it seems to be interesting to replicate the usage of such a tool in Irbid and seek for further experiences with the tool itself. The IMT includes all of the necessary calculation steps that are required for the assessment necessities of the project, and that’s why it is much advisable to use it. Moreover, it has been developed to help authorities decide on different options in an easier way, so it fits perfectly with the purposes of the project. The partial, adapted utilization of the IMT software is the initial proposal for the adaptation of assessment procedure, under the conditions expressed by the Pioneer city (Thessaloniki) in order to perform the analysis of the current situation and the assessment of the different impacts that each of the proposed scenarios would mean to the intervention axis. The importance of a transparent and participatory approach to planning as a prerequisite for citizens and stakeholders to take ownership of the proposed methodology and the policies it promotes. The governance structure in Irbid has been identified as one of the main challenges of the project, so an “adjusted” stakeholders’ engagement plan has been designed, to try to introduce some sort of public participation.

An expert trip to Irbid is planned for the month of July 2021 to consult with local stakeholders, prepare the field work with the local technical team, and analyse the pilot area. This first visit will arguably enable the expert to complete the Adaptation report. On the other side, and pending on the travel conditions in autumn 2021, both the replicator and pioneer entities would like to organise a visiting study to Thessaloniki during autumn 2021. Finally, a training session will be done so that the replicator city’s officials get sufficient knowledge to be able to implement similar intervention approaches to other axes of the city (task D).