Keep trams, axe cheap tourism, planners urge

  • 2007-03-28
  • By Joel Alas
TALLINN - Tallinn has been urged to establish an urban development task force to better coordinate the city's growth. A recent conference on urban regeneration in Tallinn heard the city should focus on pedestrians and public transport and push cars out of the city.

Engineer Dr. Colin Clinton, director of marketing for the Arup engineering and planning firm, said other cities had successfully revived their centers by handing control to a task force that included government, developers and public groups.
"The key to the future will be a partnership between public and private groups," Dr. Clinton said.
Dr. Clinton addressed the half-day conference "Heritage as a Driver of Urban Development" in Tallinn on March 20.
He used the city of Birmingham in the United Kingdom as an example of a town which shifted from being an urban wasteland to having a rejuvenated center.

"The success of Birmingham was to create a regeneration committee, which oversaw the development. There needs to be lobbying to consider such a regeneration committee here," he said.
Such a committee would not only have control of approving developments, but would also be charged with identifying potential sites, rejuvenating public spaces and linking key precincts with transport and pedestrian spaces.
While Tallinn's Old Town was adequately cared for, its city center and harbor remained disconnected, he said.
"The city has to be connected to the harbor. Right now there are trucks running through the center of the city to get to the harbor, and the city faces away from the sea," he said.
He also urged the city to preserve its tramways.

"Please do not remove your trams. Accommodate your trams and pedestrians, and put the cars on the outside. Cities across the world removed their tram systems in the 50s, 60s and 70s, and now they are putting them back."
The conference focused on how to use history and heritage as a magnet for tourism, something Tallinn has already achieved.
However speakers said the city should steer away from the "easyJet crowd" and try to focus on a higher class of tourism.
"There are two kinds of tourism, one kind which comes with easyJet. You can do without easyJet, that kind of market is not worth having," said Dominic Tweddle, chief executive of the Continuum Group, a company that develops and runs heritage tourist attraction sites.

"The Finnish alcohol tourists are not high value either. But you will deal with those issues over time."
Tweddle said many cities needed to build landmark attractions to create an identifiable image, such as towers or museums. However he said Tallinn would not need to build such a landmark, as its Old Town was already an icon.