Archive of 2016

EWRC 2016: Registrations open for PURPLE & Friends Peri-Urban Seminar

Sep 23, 2016


Registrations are open for the seminar entitled "Sustained and sustainable growth strategies around major urban centres - State of play and regional visions for the future" organised by three PURPLE Regions (Surrey, South Moravia and Frankfurt) and two non-PURPLE provinces (Val-d'Oise in France and Osijek-Baranja in Croatia).

The event will take place on 12 October, 11:15-13:00, at the Press Club, Rue Froissart 95, 1040 Brussels. The draft programme for the seminar is available here. Register at EWRC 2016 webpages using seminar code: URB12A71. If showing as fully booked, please email as there may be further places available.

PURPLE at CoR Forum on EU Urban Agenda

Jun 3, 2016

PURPLE president Helyn Clack, together with Vice President Michel Rijsberman and North Holland CoR member Cees Loggen, shared the same platform at the recent Committee of the Regions Forum on the Urban Agenda event held to coincide with the adoption of the Pact of Amsterdam on the EU Urban Agenda. All three appeared as part of a workshop entitled “Functional urban areas and urban-rural linkages”.


Mrs Clack began her intervention by warning against any overplaying of the link between urban and economic success pointing out that Surrey was the biggest single contributor to the UK exchequer outside of London itself and was at the same time 75% non-urban. Paradoxes abound and for example the M25 motorway is a vital transport link and the busiest road in Europe but it also often seems to function as the biggest car park in Europe!


Mrs Clack was keen to point out that many organisations such as counties and provinces already manage both urban and rural issues on a day to day basis, managing urban/rural collaboration from within the same organisation.  She wanted to know how we can best tap this experience which is surely a good starting point for exploring best practice. As regards governance, we will clearly need flexibility around the composition of partnerships/consortia and avoidance of dominance of city or urban agendas and recognition that place-based policies may cut across existing administrative boundaries. The nature of peri-urban areas of the EU in particular means that urban and rural activities share the same space.  Often of course, the competencies for administration of urban and rural issues sit within the same organisation and Mrs Clack was keen to explore the opportunities and challenges that arise from this.


Session moderator, Peter Ramsden pointed out that Mrs Clack had spoken – albeit briefly – about Surrey and the urban area without once explicitly mentioning the Green Belt. London would doubtless love to just grow and he wondered why it shouldn't it be allowed to do so, Green Belt or no Green Belt, Mrs Clack’s riposte to that was that local authorities in Surrey act to protect the Green Belt at the same time as encouraging and driving sustainable growth. In other words, in common with many PURPLE member regions, Surrey is a peri-urban region capable of maintaining both economic and environmental interests at the same time …. proof that one can be a very successful area without building all over it. At the same time there is a real capacity issue and there are limits to what can be done in one defined area - the M25 motorway had already been mentioned and airport expansion plans for London are very much a live debate at present. In sum, Mrs Clack concluded what we need in reality is a "balance between urban growth and peri-urban delivery".

Both Mr Rijsberman and Mr Loggen were able to draw directly upon their own experiences in terms of multi-level and multi-actor governance arrangements within the Randstad region. For Mr Loggen this was looked at in the context of the challenges for water management. Mr Rijsberman explored the sheer complexity of relationships between settlements of different sizes with different sorts of linkages and interactions in place.


Jan Olbrycht MEP was one of a number of representatives at the workshop who responded to Mrs Clack’s challenge to share thoughts as to how the European Institutions might help move the debate beyond an outdated urban - rural typology.  He has found PURPLE’s work interesting insofar as it goes to try to establish identity for particular types of areas and encourages working together as opposed to battling against. Thinking back to the RURBAN initiative and PURPLE’s involvement there, he was interested to note the need to move beyond power relationships beyond urban centres and surrounding areas and beyond arguments over terminology. Although there may be bigger and smaller cousins, there should also be fairness and equality.  For Mr Olbrycht, Mrs Clack’s description of peri-urban areas - and Surrey in particular - resonated strongly with his own personal experiences of the areas around Brussels.


24th PURPLE General Assembly - Programme announced and registration open

May 11, 2016

We are delighted to announce that the programme for the 24th PURPLE General Assembly and associated events is now available, and registration for these events is now open.

The General Assembly and a series of seminars and visits will be hosted by the Randstad Region in the Rotterdam / The Hague area of the Netherlands on 8,9 and 10 June 2016, with a thematic focus on
“Advocating the peri-urban dimension of the EU Urban Agenda”.

Click here (access restricted to PURPLE members) for the full three-day programme as well as registration, travel and accommodation details.

Please note that registration is open to PURPLE member regions only or to others by special invitation and must be made by 31 May to secure places.

PERI-URBAN Consortium at European Week of Regions and Cities 2016

May 10, 2016

PERI-URBAN Consortium of PURPLE members and partners to deliver workshop at EWRC 2016

PURPLE is delighted to announce that the application to deliver a workshop on "Sustained and sustainable growth strategies in areas around major urban centres" has been accepted by the Committee of the Regions as the focus of an event to take place as part of the European Week of Regions and Cities (EWRC)  2016.  The week comprises over 100 workshops and debates involving a total of 187 regions and cities from 28 countries who will join efforts with "Meeting Place" partners, 13 Directorates-General of the European Commission and services of the European Committee of the Regions.

A “PERI-URBAN consortium” led by Surrey County Council will bring together five partners: three PURPLE Regions (Surrey, South Moravia and Frankfurt) and two non-PURPLE provinces (Val-d’Oise in France and Osijek-Baranja in Croatia). PURPLE President Mrs Helyn Clack responded to the news, saying "this is both testament to the hard work of all the officers involved from PURPLE - and beyond - and to the reputation which PURPLE enjoys as the leading champion and advocate for peri-urban areas across Europe. I am delighted at this news and very much look forward to an event which should be a highlight of a very special week in Brussels".

The workshop will be shaped around the urgent need to address challenges facing regions and areas surrounding major urban centres which serve as key drivers in a globalised economy. In particular the intention is to focus upon, and draw attention to good and best practice in the ways in which regions can stimulate and encourage appropriate forms of economic growth of an appropriate type, and the particular role that Cohesion Policy and it accompanying tools and programmes can play in this process.

The consortium partners share a common interest in growth and development in areas around, at the edges of and beyond urban centres and metropolitan areas, where functional economic areas straddle lines between what is often thought of as “urban” and “rural” where links between urban and rural territories are at their most concrete and where the two co-exist, overlap and coincide. Areas such as those represented within the consortium have atypically high levels of internationalised business, are generally prosperous and face challenges around issues such as multi-functional land use, pressures on physical and human infrastructure and complex labour market shifts.

The plan is to offer a mixed platform of speakers and contributors able to speak from personal experience about the successful deployment of a range of tools designed to stimulate and encourage growth in ways that are appropriate the needs of given places, local economies and communities. Members of a mixed audience of political representatives, practitioners and stakeholders will be able to learn about the work of others, share their own experiences, have direct input to group debates and develop opportunities for future cooperation.

More details will emerge over the coming weeks and months as the project consortium develops its plans further and detail will be added to the PURPLE website as it becomes known.

PURPLE at the Committee of the Regions, Innsbruck

May 10, 2016





PURPLE President Mrs Helyn Clack spoke yesterday (May 9 2016) at a Committee of the Regions conference entitled Rural areas as the key to economic, social and territorial cohesion in Europe: governance and infrastructure in relations between towns, surrounding areas, regions and macro regions.

Organised by the CoR Commission for Natural Resources , the event took place in Innsbruck with a partial focus on the Alpine Space macro region.

Mrs Clack's intervention on behalf of PURPLE came as part of a debate on "Rural-urban links and their significant impact on the regional development of rural areas”.

Mrs Clack began by explaining a little about the nature of Peri-urban Surrey, the area for which she is a political representative, and describing the complicated push and pull between more rural parts of Surrey, urbanised Surrey and of course London in terms of the labour market, commuting and other transport patterns, public service provision and demands upon same, and how al of the above impacts on “community”. She want on to say a few words about the PURPLE network itself, explaining its mission and purpose and how it sets out to be the voice of European peri-urban territories. Mrs Clack pointed out that current ways of living serve to blur the divides between urban and rural areas, creating ever-larger and ever-more important peri-urban areas, with their own specific characteristics, problems and opportunities. In other words, large and growing parts of Europe are characterised by a complex web of inter-relations and interdependencies. She explained that a key PURPLE message in the context of any debate like today’s one is that we absolutely must not unhinge the urban and rural. Where urban and rural co-exist there is peri-urban.

As for any model of urban and rural regional development with an economic slant. Mrs Clack started by saying that she wanted to be clear from the outset that each and every PURPLE region was home to dozens of high tech companies, universities and research institutes, located not just in the most urbanised part of the territory, but also in many lesser known smaller towns in what PURPLE describes as l the peri-urban zone. It follows, Mrs Clack explained, that there are good market opportunities in a wide range of sectors from high and new  technology, through the automotive industry,  to food and drink. Directly addressing CoR members in the room Mrs Clack went on to state, “but we, as politicians, must see that we create the right conditions to allow business to flourish and provide the education and training, research through universities - and importantly access to fast, reliable broadband. This last point about the pivotal importance of access to reliable broadband was repeated during subsequent debate and Q & A.

As Mrs Clack was sharing a platform with a representative from OECD who was later to speak about how their (OECD’s) own thinking is evolving at present in terms of defining “rural”, Mrs Clack took the opportunity to emphasise the fact that PURPLE members have been involved with the RURBAN initiative, repeatedly making the point that urban-rural “linkages” very often describe superimpositions where urban and rural features and characteristics co-exist in the same landscape, the same economy and the same set of complex human inter-relationships.

With regard to future matters, Mrs Clack reiterated the fact that, in common with CoR itself, PURPLE has been happy to lend its support to the European Movement Call for a White Paper on Rural Policy and that this is just one dimension of a broader push by PURPLE for recognition that the challenges faced by rural areas in all their diversity, including peri-urban territories, must be taken into account at the EU level and that a large proportion of the EU population lives in rural and peri-urban regions and that this constitutes an integral part of the European dynamics. Looking further ahead still of course. Mrs Clack reminded her audience, exactly the same principles should apply to our discussions about the EU budget and policies post-2020, PURPLE members believe that EU investments – including those made within cohesion and rural policies – must maintain a strong territorial and place focus with more specific attention being paid to peri-urban areas in order to better support growth, jobs and innovation.

Supporting the Call for a White Paper on Rurality

May 10, 2016

On 19 April 2016 the coordinator of the PURPLE Lobby Group, Mathieu Simon, spoke on behalf of PURPLE at a seminar organised in the Committee of the Regions entitled “For a rural agenda in the programming period post 2020 – A White Paper on Rurality as a strategic step”. This was part of a series of presentations on the day by partner organisations of the European Countryside Movement (ECM) [which include PURPLE] outlining their specific arguments on the need for a White Paper on Rurality.

Below is a summary of Mr Simon’s speech in the session.

“The PURPLE network, the voice of Peri-Urban regions in EUROPE is convinced that the traditional rural-urban dichotomy is no longer relevant from a territorial development point of view. New ways of living serve to blur the divides between urban and rural areas, creating ever-larger and ever-more important peri-urban areas, with their own specific characteristics, problems and opportunities. Whilst the EU institutions are pushing for a strong urban agenda, we all know that some of the main challenges which cities face (economic and social development, climate change, transport and demographic change), can only be tackled through partnerships with their surrounding peri-urban and rural areas - this is the new territorial reality
On the eve of the crucial debate about the EU budget and policies post-2020 , PURPLE members believe that EU investments – including those made within cohesion and rural policies – must maintain a strong territorial and place focus with more specific attention being paid to peri-urban areas in order to better support growth, jobs and innovation both within and beyond urban centres. This is why PURPLE members actively support the European Countryside Movement call for a White Paper on Rurality that would serve as a strong signal that the challenges faced by rural areas in all their diversity, including peri-urban territories, must be taken into account at the EU level and that their inhabitants must be recognised as an integral part of the European dynamics.”

For further details about this event please use the following links.

Committee of the Regions website:

ECM website:,english/