The Leonberg, Germany 2022 Perspektivenwerkstatt (aka Charrette) and next steps
“Leonberg is a car city” is something you can often hear locally. In the past, motorway-like roads have been laid through the town centre and there is a general lack of environmental quality and social meeting spaces. The aim of the “Leonberg: City of Tomorrow” project is to provide for integrated urban development, placemaking and innovative mobility planning. This will reduce pollution and improve environmental quality by grasping the opportunities that urban integration and short distances in mixed-use urban spaces can provide.
“City of Tomorrow” is the brainchild of Leonberg’s Mayor, Georg Martin Cohn, who already has experience of a similar process in his previous office as mayor in the nearby municipality of Rudersberg. Ten years ago he led a process that transformed the local car dominated through road into a high quality people focussed environment accommodating all road users equally. With the speed limit reduced to 30 km/h on a uniform “pavement” surface with more space devoted to pedestrians, the changes created a much safer, more attractive place and was very popular with the local residential and business community. The transformation received various awards and has become a showcase example throughout Germany.
To help shape a future Vision and strategy and feed into the production of the city land use plan 2040, local citizens were invited to participate in the “Leonberg: City for Tomorrow” Perspektivenwerkstatt (aka Charrette). An inspiration evening, dialogue workshops and hands-on planning tables held on Friday 16 and Saturday 17 September 2022 gave the participants the opportunity to discuss concerns and develop ideas for improving and revitalising the city centre with the planning team, including architects, urban designers, landscape architects and transport planners. Following the public days, the planning team assessed the outcomes and drew up a Vision for Leonberg, focussing on the restructuring of traffic through the centre and how this can act as a catalyst to improve the city including better mobility and access for all, enhancing urban and green spaces and moderating the urban climate, and providing more attractive shopping, improved culture, sports, education and urban living.
Summary of the key themes raised by participants during the perspective workshop on 17 September 2022.
1. Desire for change, and for public participation
The citizens of Leonberg want to see a positive and sustainable transformation of their city. There is pressure to change and a realisation that some of the requirements of a fully functioning modern city are not being fulfilled. Mobility plays a central role for the people, but also on issues such as social housing, decentralized Shopping facilities, greenery or the aesthetics of the architecture Leonberg has some catching up to do. The chance to participate actively and early on were very positively received. More transparency and participation in planning procedures can ultimately lead to greater acceptance and better planning results.
2. Climate change as a guiding principle
During the perspective workshop it became clear that an overarching mission statement or vision for Leonberg is missing. Urban and traffic planning has been reactive with no overall Vision or strategy. The “City for Tomorrow” should develop an independent leitmotif around climate change and thereby create a consistent strategy for more climate resilience, energy and CO2 savings to prevent overheating, droughts and flooding. Key development goals can be derived from this, e.g. the conversion of the main traffic axes, the settlement of climate-friendly companies and workplaces, creation of sustainable residential areas, including programs for refurbishment in the housing stock and for public buildings as well as the prioritization of mixed-use areas (residential and work).
3. Less car traffic for better quality of place
The reduction of inner-city car traffic (MIV) is a central aspiration. The auto-optimized inner-city streets are the main reason for the unattractive nature of Leonberg city centre. Citizens want a fundamental transformation of public spaces, which prioritizes walking and cycling. This should also achieve a greener appearance of the street spaces and more shaded areas. A proportion of car traffic is considered necessary in the medium term, however, increasingly attractive alternatives for use of the car should be created. The goals set by the State Ministry of Transport combating the climate crisis in the transport sector should be leitmotif for traffic planning.
4. Welcoming, gapless and secure cycling infrastructure
Participants want to see much improved cycling facilities in the city. Many people wish to have the opportunity to cycle more and see cycling as a key to the Leonberg traffic turnaround. A welcoming, consistent and safe cycle path network in the city should be developed to shift often short car journeys to the bike. Requirements for the future cycling infrastructure take account of the increase in number, speed and width of the bicycles.
5. Green in the city
There was general agreement among the citizens that more “green” must be brought to the city centre: in the squares and common areas, in the street space overall, in the new buildings and refurbished existing ones. It is about more biodiversity in the city as well as cooling, shading, water retention, air quality and, last but not least, the beauty of inner-city street spaces. Existing attractions such as the orange garden and the Stadtpark should have their profiles raised and be better linked.
6. Improve public transport
Public transport is used by the Leonbergers as another important part of a strategy. The alignment of the bus lines to the Leonberger Train station is largely geared towards commuters and for the people of the city unfavourable for many journeys. An idea for improving public transport is to offer on-demand shuttles that come with your smartphone can be operated and used. The cell phone becomes virtual stop. This offer is already available in other German cities and can make a significant contribution to public transport.
7. Bringing innovative mobility to the city
Offers for car sharing, bike sharing or micro mobility such as e-scooters were considered a useful element for future traffic planning and to reduce car use called. It is particularly important that the services cover residential areas and not just at individual points such as the train station. Urban developments could be required to provide innovative mobility with the development eg car sharing. So can long term a decentralized structure of these offers in the be brought to town. In addition, in key busy areas such as the railway station, city centre, Eltingen, old town, central Mobility Hubs should be set up, to facilitate switching between modes of active transport.
8. Remodel Neuköllner Platz to create a true city centre
Neuköllner Platz with the Leo shopping centre plays a key role in the image of the city and is where most of the key challenges overlap and intertwine – traffic, greenery, quality of place, urban development, economy. Neuköllner Platz requires special attention and how and according to which paradigms it is designed effects on the entire urban area. The idea of creating an attractive city centre with a real square should be progressed with the future redevelopment and design of the Leo Centre and the adjoining urban development included and integrated in the planning.
9. Networking of city centres
The heart of Leonberg has grown historically from different “city islands”, each one with its own unique characteristics that contribute to the common urban organism. At the charrette numerous ideas for a closer interconnection of these sub-centres emerged making better use of potential and synergies to deliver the right development for the city. Mobility connections play a central role, along with common programs, joint marketing and higher quality links between centres. The accessibility and the networking of the different centres with sustainable means of transport must be made possible.
V 1.0 Strategies
Inner City – Integrated Planning Approach
The public participation process identified strategies (known as version 1.0.) which have been compiled into an “Integrated City Centre Map”. These and other strategies are to be developed in 2023 via numerous participation formats and eight theme clusters to be further explored and detailed. The result will help shape a new “land use plan 2040″.
Empowerment and networking of urban centres
- “Leonberg Old Town” and the “Eltinger Kiez” are two strong, well-established centres that work on their own with their own identity and historical character.
- The Neuköllner Platz as the city centre acts as an intermediary between both historic city centres in the north and south, but also in the east-west direction between train station and town hall. A car-free design and cross-city programming can make the town centre significantly more attractive with its own profile with new homes, retail and mixed use city park.
- With the new Bosch Campus on the Römerstraße and the planned area on Eltinger Straße two new centres of attraction will bring people back to Leonberg’s city centre, driven by mixed uses, new inner-city offerings and interesting ways to live and work.
Redesign of the traffic axes
The structural redesign of the Leonberger Stadtmitte (town centre) will promote and provide various modes of sustainable transport including by foot, by bike and by bus. The urban climate is taken into account by providing space for green infrastructure, including tree trenches, evaporation beds and infiltration troughs. This will make a contribution to the climate change and resilience against increased expected extreme weather events.
Road width will be reduced with access for car traffic maintained and improvement to the existing bike offer. More space will be available for pedestrians and other street infrastructure, including greening to enable pleasant and climate-friendly access. The additional available space can also accommodate new mobility options and parking facilities, eg for e-scooters and e-bikes.
The new Bosch development will integrate a traffic-calmed area to give Poststraßethe new, greener character and will also meet urban climate challenges. In combination with the Bosch area, a new inner-city area is being created area with a high quality. Traffic speeds will be reduced and share road space with bicycle traffic.
Eltinger Straße (Süd)
Through a redistribution of the existing space in Eltinger Straße, an improved cycling offer can be created. New tree planting will bring a natural demarcation of the widened sidewalk area from the traffic areas. The rows of trees also serve as shade providers, with infiltration beds creating to a natural water cycle.
The Perspektivenwerkstatt 2022 was the start of a broad participation process to create an integrated planning for the city centre of Leonberg. The participation will be continued in 2023 with various events:
- Perspectives workshop on trade & commerce
- 8 specialist forums on the central topics of integrated inner city planning:
- Innovative working & business
- Attractive city centre & eventful shopping
- Culture, sport & education
- Climate protection & energy transition
- Multifunctional green and recreational spaces
- Encounter and social diversity
- Affordable housing
- Detailed workshops on the technical planning of street sections
- District tours
- World Café Leonberg 2040
- Market of opportunities for networking the city centre stakeholders