Key Concerns of Urban Renewal

 Urban renewal programmers are afterwards turned into a luxury-scheme in many countries. In India, it is very often termed as “Urban Bulldozer” by some regional planners and social geographers as it tends to obliterate the stable neighborhood patterns and character of some authentic urban core areas and buffer areas. Many traditional and old-fashioned buildings are wiped out to make avenues for the fresh buildings and sky-scrappers. Some renewal projects do not help the city’s development and in many cases it enhances some unique problems. As slums get cleaned, poor residents turn-up to other shanty-towns. Otherwise, they are uprooted without proper rehabilitation or forced to rush to a place with higher rent. Economically, the ‘Patricians’ become richer and ‘Plebeians’ get poorer. Some private investors and developers become extraordinarily pampered or puffed-up in such public projects.

Critical Issues 

Urban renewal can affect the urban environment at many levels. The preservation of the city's identity, community, local culture and natural and built environments, must be given special attention in the process of renewal. 

a) Urban Identity 

A frequent challenge faced in the sensitive reshaping of an already existing environment is discovering and preserving its own visible structure and drawing out its inherent image and identity. Urban renewal modifies not only the physical form of the urban environment but also transforms the way in which it is perceived and experienced, and the psychological and emotional relationships between humans and urban places. Diversity and continuity appear to be essential components of the urban environment which must be preserved in the process of urban renewal. However, in recent years, the emergence of a global model has been threatening local identity, integrity and authenticity, and cities around the world have become increasingly. Respecting the city's own identity through urban renewal will help rescue cities from the "placelessness" of contemporary international architecture and the homogeneous values of the mass culture. 

b) Environmental Concerns 

The preservation of natural and man-made environments is another important issue which should not be overlooked in the process of renewal. Old buildings, monuments, parks, and neighborhoods, as well as the old pattern of the city which gives the city its unique character are necessary to maintain the city's vitality.

The preservation of the historic core, which provides future generations with stimulating ideas from their cultural heritage, is essential for the development of modern cities Present, past, and future history are all equally important in the making of a modern city. No adequate image of the emerging city can be formed without reference both to the most enduring and valuable features of historic cities as well as to the fresh departure and fresh opportunities that our modern age, with its immense store of knowledge, wealth and power has opened up. 

Over the last few years, there has been a heightened appreciation of the value of preserving old sections of the urban fabric. For more than one hundred years, writers on architecture have returned to the pre-industrial town for models for a saner, more organic society. The historic core has become the point of reference for planners and architects. Some even consider the historic core to represent the design model that will ultimately be used to transform the remainder of the cit. However, preservation must be handled with caution, and it requires a deep understanding of the nature of the city. A misinterpretation of the process by which cities evolve through time can lead to the creation of sanitized environments, or the reconstruction of an imaginary and more acceptable past. 

c) Social Concerns 

Concerns for the physical and psychological well-being of the individual and the community are essential for sensitive renewal. Urban renewal can either involve re-accommodation of the original population on the site after its renewal or its transfer to another part of the city through relocation. For the population, displacement carries not only financial costs, but social and emotional costs as well. Urban renewal often leads to the dissolution of urban communities and the loss of proximity to friends and relatives. People need to know that their communities will continue to exist and be able to provide for the present and future needs of themselves and their children. 

It is generally recognized that displacement from familiar locations translates into drastic changes in lifestyle and requires long term readjustment which can cause serious psychological trauma, especially for the most vulnerable portion of the population, i.e. young children and the elderly. The loss of contact with a familiar environment to which people have developed strong emotional attachments may occurs both when residents are displaced and when familiar environments are radically altered by revitalizing activities.The high economic, social and emotional costs paid by evicted residents have generally been written off as an unavoidable by-product of "progress" and a necessary consequence of modernization. While the governments can intervene to compensate victims for part of the economic costs of displacement, the psychological costs are less easily mitigated. Relocation therefore remains an important aspect of the process of renewal and should be given special attention. 

d) Cultural Concerns 

The preservation of a unique urban culture is another critical issue in the process of urban renewal. Culture has been defined as the whole social mode of life, or the mode of life of the people in general, and as the collective expression of shared history, traditions, values and ways of life. The continuity of a culture is carried in its architecture, urban design, and planning, as well as in its community life. Urban culture can therefore be said to be closely related to the evolution of the relationship between the urban built environment and its social structure. The disappearance of the physical and social manifestations of a particular culture would lead to the decline of this culture.

The changes brought to the social, natural and build environment of the city through urban renewal can have a serious impact on the flourishing of urban culture. Just as much as the preservation of the environment and community can be important for that of the local culture, culture is itself essential in their development. It is often the local culture which defines what is special and unique about a group of people or a place, giving them their identity and making them last over generations. It is therefore important to ensure that in the process of renewal, the urban culture is not destroyed, but stimulated and promoted through a conscious transformation of the urban environment.

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