Many people find life in small towns in rural areas very attractive. Despite demographically induced structural change and migration, there are strong ties to the home country and thus many people who appreciate “rural towns” because of their still high diversity, their spatial manageability and their child-friendliness. Nevertheless, it is important for small towns to meet the demographic challenges in a sustainable way. Against this background, the ExWoSt research field “Potentials of Small Towns in Peripheral Locations” examines how small towns can use their future opportunities for quality urban development, even though the framework conditions are difficult. In order to involve citizens and urban actors in this redefinition process, the ExWoSt research field launched a participatory scenario process to develop future perspectives. It became apparent that the participation of young families in this scenario process is comparatively low – probably also due to the fact that the capacities for commitment and participation are generally less pronounced in the family formation phase, especially since this phase often coincides with the start of employment.

In order to find out more about the perspectives of young families, the nexus Institute will conduct focus groups in four selected model towns of the scenario process (Rodewisch/Saxony, Großschönau/Saxony, Zell am Harmersbach/Baden-Württemberg, Beverungen/NRW) to examine the needs and future issues of young families with children. In close consultation with the local authorities, the nexus Institute invites families to intensively discuss in a moderated group discussion how they envision their family-friendly small town. In the subsequent scientific evaluation, concrete recommendations for action are to be developed for the four model towns, and statements on the generalisability of the recommendations for action for other small towns are to be achieved on the basis of the investigations.

Duration: 02/2018 – 06/2018
Client: Hochschule Neubrandenburg, Institut für Kooperative Regionalentwicklung im Rahmen des Forschungsfeldes „Potenziale von Kleinstädten in peripheren Lagen“ des Forschungsprogramms Experimenteller Wohnungs- und Städtebau (ExWoSt), aufgelegt durch das Bundesinstitut für Bau-, Stadt- und Raumforschung (BBSR) im Bundesamt für Bauwesen und Raumordnung (BBR)
Team: Dr. Angela Jain (Project management), Robert Boden, Ina Metzner