Contested planning efforts for the revitalization of small town centres in Finland
Many Finnish small towns have developed revitalization plans for town centres to counter the problems of decline, rebrand the town, and compete for residents and businesses. Accompanied by municipal branding efforts, infrastructure projects provide small towns with an improved appearance. These projects are often designed by national planning firms and consultants and materialised by private investors, yet it remains unclear if the changes suit the needs and socio-spatial peculiarities of the places they are intended for. This article sheds light onto downtown revitalization efforts by case studies in six shrinking Finnish small towns which have moved beyond the draft planning phase in their downtown revitalisation projects. The research is based on a mixed-methods approach, and pairs assemblage conceptualization with the concepts of small town planning and place-making. The relational approach enables us to show the challenges for shrinking small towns to materialise well-intentioned revitalization plans and place-based solutions in a complex place assemblage with conflicting pressure from big commercial actors, consultants, reluctant investors, limited local economies and demographics in decline.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Moritz Albrecht, Jarmo Kortelainen
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