Preparation of 150 'Community Action Plans' to cover much of the Cypriot countryside
Cyprus considers its rural areas and countryside as an important part of its territory. Already in 2004 Cyprus was the first accession country introducing a rural development programme approved by the European Commission. By the end of 2012, a total of 150 Community Action Plans are to be prepared in cooperation with local authorities and private consultants. In the next 10 to 20 years, it is expected that the framework provided by these plans will be used as a strategic guidance tool for the further development of specific projects and actions in each area. Each individual community develops its own objectives and aspirers to formulate a systematic and coherent framework for its development. Therefore, these action plans address the unique characteristics of each particular locality (economic, cultural, environmental, historic, architectural etc.), as well as other inter-related issues deriving from various sectoral strategies, legislation and policies that are already in place or under study.
Issue: the need for specific local strategies and integrated sectoral plans
The local communities were in great need of clearly defined, consensus-based local strategies in which development programmes and integrated sectoral policy measures are key elements. Additionally, the preparation of Community Action Plans was desirable since the existing development plan covering most rural areas (Policy Statement for the Countryside, PSC) is geographically too general and consequently does not properly take into account the uniqueness of each locality. Thus, it cannot adequately address the concerns of local communities, which the project strives to do. The project was initiated by the Department of Town Planning and Housing of the Ministry of the Interior, partly out of pressure from local communities.
Objective: rural development plans using a more systematic and coherent framework
The overall aim
is to develop these 150 Action Plans for an equal
number of rural communities by the end of 2012. The communities are
all located in government controlled areas where EU
acquis applies. The action plans are based upon a
systematic and coherent framework forming a blueprint in which
various projects are implemented. Already during the 2004-2006
programming period (starting in 2006, after the preparation of two
pilot studies by internal staff of the Department for the
communities of Apesia and Pachna, respectively), external
consultants were awarded contracts to prepare Action
Plans in 18 communities scattered throughout
Cyprus. With two
exceptions, these were all co-funded at 50% by the European
Regional Development Fund, 40% by the Cyprus Government Budget and
10% by each concerned local authority.
Due to the success of this initial phase of the project, an additional 130 rural communities were selected for the 2007-2013 programming period, in three phases. The first phase was initiated in December 2008 and involved the preparation of community action plans for 42 rural communities. This was followed by a second phase, initiated in 2009 and completed by the end of 2011, which involved a further 55 local communities. The third and final phase was initiated in December 2010 and involves 33 communities. It is expected that this phase will be completed by the end of 2012.
Linear park development – riverside rehabilitation and presentation
of old bridge in the Wine Village of Vasa
Approach: an inter-sectoral and integrated approach to allow participation at all levels
The project is implemented by the Department of Town Planning and Housing, which has taken the lead and developed tender documents for the preparation of the Community Action Plans in cooperation with private consultants and Local Authorities. The tendering procedure is in line with relevant national rules and the interdisciplinary project groups are selected according to the fulfillment of specified qualifications and skills requirements. Cartographic, statistical and other input data are provided by the Department of Town Planning and Housing, through cooperation agreements with competent national authorities.
The inter-sectoral and integrated approach of the practice requires participation and consultation with all involved government services and agencies at all appropriate stages of each study. The entire project consisted of approximately 150 studies, each becoming the Community Action Plan of a participating community or, in some instances, a group of neighbouring communities. The Consultants were expected to organise a number of meetings at each stage, both with the community leaders and all main stakeholders. According to the specifications, each study was divided in three stages preliminary, intermediate and final stage. The participative approach includes the involvement of special interest groups and concerned citizens right from the start. This is essentially a bottom-up approach (although still containing some top-down elements, particularly regarding strategic issues), where central government additionally provides administrative capacity and financial support, which local communities generally need.
Restoration and presentation of traditional constructions in the
Wine Village of Vasa
Results: delivering sustainable action plans to develop rural communities
Up to the end of 2011 the project has been progressing successfully, with over 100 studies already delivered and about 30 additional ones in the pipeline. It is expected that by the end of 2012 each of the 150 targeted Local Authorities will have its own Community Action Plan. Feedback from the local communities has been extremely encouraging; a fact that emphasizes the high added value of this project. Although originally conceived as a practical arrangement to overcome a deficiency of the Policy Statement for the Countryside (which lacks the level of detail that would allow both a place-based approach and a relevance to the programming of development projects), the emergence of Community Action Plans has provided a new ‘compass’ to guide rural Local Authorities in their endeavours to sustainably develop their communities.
The project was financed by the European Union by 50%, the Government of Cyprus by 40% and, concerning its own Community Action Plan, by each of the 150 Local Authorities involved, by 10%. Apart from these contribution arrangements, another financial agreement was made between the Department of Town Planning and Housing and the private consultants who carried out the relevant contracts. This was to divide the amount of each contract into four parts aligned to the different stages of the project:
- 20% of the total amount to be payable with the signature of the contract;
- 30% with the approval of the Preliminary Stage;
- 20% with the approval of the Interim Stage;
- 30% with the approval of the Final Stage.
Arrangements concerning both co-financing and contract payments are based on common practice applied in similar cases and changing these over the project lifeline was not an issue. The total budget of the project was € 6,710,341.
Restoration and presentation of traditional constructions in the
Wine Village of Vasa
Lessons learnt: a well-constituted structure with clearly defined roles
On the one hand, the financing actors were clearly very important for the success of the project, since without any financial support it is unlikely that the local communities would have ever been able to afford this pursuit. On the other hand, financing actors continually proved that they are interested in reaching a scientifically valid result with as much local consensus as possible. This meant that efforts to efficiently manage all relevant contracts and make sure all deliverables are turned in at the highest possible standard were never misinterpreted as signs of project manipulation.
Furthermore, the responsibilities of each actor are clearly defined. Regarding the division of competences, each part has its own. The Private Consultants’ was to implement the project and follow the time schedule and the Department of Town Planning and Housing’s to evaluate and pay them on time. The contracts between the Department of Town Planning and Housing and the Private Consultants last for 10 months. Until now the cooperation between the two is excellent. The Consultants are consistent and they follow up the due dates of their contracts. Citizens of each community had a major role in the success of the project. They helped the Consultants with their input to end up with a result that suits all the parties involved.
Department of Town Planning and Housing, Ministry of the
Phone: +357 22408222
For more information regarding the roles of the actors involved and their competences, please read the complete document at the Reference Material section.
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Practice | Preparation of 150 community action plans
21 Feb 2012, pdf, 650KB