We must celebrate the city center properly again

The Mayor of Leipzig Burkhard Jung gave an interview to Spiegel on the development of inner cities.

Burkhard Jung become Lord Mayor of Leipzig in 2006, and at the same time, he is currently President of the German Association of Cities, the umbrella association of the independent cities, and most of the cities belonging to the Federal Republic.

Leipzig is working on project Leipzig Charter for the European City 2.0, a new model for the city centers. Mayor Jung expresses his concerns regarding part of the cities where it could lose their function as public marketplaces. “Inner cities are the face of the city. Preserving the center is the most important issue for European identity. This is what sets our cities apart from everyone else in the world. Therefore, we have to take care of the city centers.” he emphasizes.

Mayor Jung suggests: “Centers have to be played on, places have to become lively again, with or without cars. It takes events, events, communication. The old idea of the medieval marketplace has to be revived: there is the trader, the juggler, the innkeeper, the singer who reported the news. We have to celebrate the center properly again.”

More specifically: “The subject of living plays a very important role in the future of the city. In Leipzig, we said right from the start for every renovation: 30 percent residential share. Today 10,000 people live in our inner-city again, at 600 by 800 meters. But this is not the case in many municipalities. Corona, growing online trade and climate adaptation strategies are now changing things around. Cities have to become more spacious, greener, airier. Corona forces us to implement all of our concepts from a few years ago much faster. We have to give the inner city back to the people.

Mr. Jung emphasizes one example of this politics in Leipzig thus far: “We left the university in the middle of the center, not let it pull out onto the green field. There are 36,000 students in the heart of the city”.

The idea of district centers, B-locations, that should be very concentrated, without a new supermarket built on the suburbs, can be put in place with the influence that already today a mayor can exert. “New instruments are also needed: more money for urban development funding, changes in the building code, and expanded, fixed right of first refusal for land, for example. Building land development must become mandatory in order to prevent fallow land and to avoid speculation” Mr. Jung said.

photo: facebook Burkhard Jung