As in many cities, the area around Reggio Emilia’s railway station was always a dynamic area of social and cultural change, and had been allowed to develop a concentration of social problems. Through its association, as an arrival point, with new immigrants, its physical decline and links to crime and public fears of safety, all risked undermining intercultural trust in the city.
The city council resolved special and comprehensive action was necessary and introduced a new policy innovation – a Neighbourhood Pact – and work began in 2007.
Adopting consultative and participatory methods with all residents, users and property owners, the city developed a strategic plan for physical, economic and community renewal.
In the first phase they contacted about 180 individuals and stakeholders, 60 of which were involved in active design work through 4 seminars. The seminars were used to produce the analysis of problems and objectives, namely the development of key interventions. The general lines of the projects has been incorporated into a ‘Pact for Coexistence’, setting out the rules and the responsibilities of all who use in the station area, and this was approved and signed by all the key stakeholders who participated in the process, to guarantee the commitment would be sustainable.
Since the physical work was completed there has been ongoing dialogue to ensure original stakeholders remain committed and to ensure new generations also adopt the spirit and principles.
To ensure the spirit remains, after 10 years of improvements, a full calendar of events is promoted including street markets, exhibitions and street food. And a festival "Outside the Track" is held annually. Also the council and citizens held further discussions and a renewed ‘Pact on Security’ was signed with residents in June 2015.
Among the actions planned for the future are the redevelopment of the square of the central station, to make it less anonymous and more appropriate to the diverse identity of the many people who use it.