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Basque Country obtains €1.7M from the EU for two urban regeneration pilots

The European Commission will provide 1.7 million euros for the Opengela project, a new project funded under the Horizon 2020 Innovation and Research Programme in which ZABALA participates as a partner for two urban regeneration pilots.

Opengela is a project that will create an office in Otxarkoaga (Bilbao) and Txonta (Éibar), which will act as a one-stop shop. It will attend to the neighbourhood throughout the process of refurbishment of the buildings: from paperwork to the relationship with guilds in the works or to apply for financial aid. This model is expected to be replicated first in fifteen Basque municipalities and later in other parts of Europe.

The final objective of the project is to propitiate an integral rehabilitation of the buildings in the oldest neighbourhoods or those with the greatest needs in the Basque Country, as well as greater energy efficiency, with universal accessibility and the incorporation of minimum fire protection and safety systems. All of this has a social dimension, that is, “focusing on people and neighbourhoods, making them part of the process”, explains Ignacio de la Puerta, director of Territorial Planning, Urban Planning and Urban Regeneration of the Department of the Environment, Territorial Planning and Housing of the Basque Government, which is leading the project.

Opengela has received funding from the Horizon 2020 programme for the next three years, a budget that covers 100% of the total cost.

Urban regeneration of 500 homes in Otxarkoaga and Txonta

In Otxarkoaga, action will be taken on five buildings that add up to 16 portals with a total of 240 dwellings. The office that will house the one-stop shop will be installed in the former BBK kindergarten. From there, other actions will also be undertaken, such as the remodelling of the old shopping centre and the launch of entrepreneurial initiatives in premises that are now empty.

In the district of Txonta, in Éibar, the rehabilitation of the old buildings with criteria of energy efficiency and accessibility is also planned. The pilot project will begin with the rehabilitation of 221 houses with 17 portals. It tries to give priority to the participation of the people living in the neighbourhood.

In order to carry out these pilot experiences for the Department of the Environment, Territorial Planning and Housing of the Basque Government, it is accompanied by eight other partners: the local planning societies of the two municipalities (Viviendas Municipales de Bilbao and the Guipuzcoa Debegesa), as well as the Ente Vasco de la Energía (EVE), three consultancy firms specialising in financing (GNE Finance), European affairs  and communication (Gabineteseis), and also two European organisations based in Brussels: the Federation of Agencies and Regions for Energy and the Environment (Fedarene) and the European Federation of Public, Cooperative and Social Housing (Housing Europe).