In 2007, the city of Gent, together with five project partners, launched a large-scale project to adapt the main railway station Gent Sint-Pieters and its surroundings to the needs of the 21st century. By 2020, the area should be transformed into an accessible and comfortable area for living and working, with good intermodal connections. This project has an enormous impact, not only on the surrounding neighbourhoods, but on the whole city and its inhabitants. The city installed an information point that organises extensive communication to, and participation of, citizens, both in the planning and the implementation phase.
When a new phase of the work is due to begin, the residents of the affected neighbourhoods receive a “resident’s letter” to inform them about the work at hand and the inconvenience that it might cause. Three times a year, a project newsletter is inserted in the city magazine, which every citizen of Gent receives for free. Copies of the newsletter are also available for travellers in the railway station. The project has its own visually attractive website. It provides project news, reports of public meetings, pictures and videos of the work, maps of temporary bus stops, temporary pedestrian and cycling facilities.
Twice a year, the public is invited for a visit to the construction site to see the work close up and to receive more explanation from the information point, the project partners and the engineers. On each visit, 400 to 800 people participate in small groups. These visits are tremendously popular.
Occasionally, 7000 families from the surrounding neighbourhoods are invited to an information market. At these events, people can ask questions, see pictures and maps and watch a project presentation. With the support of the CiViTAS programme, a 3D model was developed to show what the station area will look like in the future.
For people who wish to be involved more actively, “dialogue cafés” are organised to discuss certain aspects of the project, within the practical and legal boundaries that are made clear at the beginning of the meeting. In May 2011, a special participation round was held in schools to collect the input of youngsters – a stakeholder group that has not been very involved before.
The information point is manned by five (almost) full-time staff members. It has a budget of 365,000 EUR per year (staff and operational costs). All costs are divided equally among the project partners.
Source: Sarah Martens, Mobiel 21 based on input from Information Point project Gent Sint-Pieters – Gisèle Rogiest.
Through its involvement in the CiViTAS ELAN project, the City of Zagreb prepared a conceptual design for the new Sava-North intermodal passenger terminal. Situated in the Southern part of the city near the River Sava, this new terminal was designed to include rail, tram, bus, bicycle and taxi infrastructure and was envisioned as a trigger for economic growth and urban development in the neighbourhood. Due to its accommodation of five different transport modes and its anticipated impact on development, the city decided to involve different local stakeholders in its traffic and design study. Various administrative bodies, public transport operators, NGOs and representatives of city districts were consulted in an early phase of the study.
Articles about the study were published in professional, daily and fortnightly newspapers. The “zagreb.hr” newspaper printed 300,000 copies and delivered them to households free of charge. TV and radio stations covered the study and a leaflet was printed and distributed. Media coverage included six newspaper articles which encouraged readers to send remarks and suggestions by post and e-mail. The city replied to all of them. Two presentations were made to citizens: one at the CiViTAS ELAN forum, another at a retirement home.
Stakeholder meetings and presentations to citizens described the study and invited debate. Participants were encouraged to interrupt the presentations at any moment to ask questions. This helped create a relaxed atmosphere and participants responded well. The study’s authors received feedback, remarks and suggestions and the majority of them were incorporated into the final version of the study.
Source: CIVITAS VANGUARD (2011). Involving Stakeholders: Toolkit on Organising Successful Stakeholder Consultations, CiViTAS Handbooks,