From Iceland — Reykjavík's Municipal Plan Looks To 2030

Reykjavík’s Municipal Plan Looks To 2030

Published December 5, 2013

Larissa Kyzer

Reykjavík’s recently approved Municipal Plan proposes a variety of objectives which should help “every city district to become more sustainable and human friendly than they already are, prioritising the quality of the manmade environment.” After a period of public comment, the proposal was officially approved by the city council at the end of November.
Originally intended to extend until 2024, the expansive revised plan projects as far as 2030 and focuses on densifying Reykjavík’s urban structure, developing public transportation systems, reducing pollution, preserving green spaces, promoting Reykjavík as an economically competitive, international city, and improving the quality of life for individuals living in local neighborhoods.  
The plan says that increasing urban density will have multiple benefits, including “creat[ing] more habitable and diverse neighborhoods, re-us[ing] disrupted areas to improve the environment, [and] creat[ing] a more coherent streetscape.” Moreover, doing so will reduce pollution and transportation costs. In effort to accomplish this densification, “90% of new residential units are expected to be developed in the current urban area instead of the previous estimation of 50%.” Additionally, the plan places emphasis on “increasing the number of residents in areas which have a high level of jobs” as well as increasing the availability of jobs in areas which don’t currently offer as many.
Neighborhood development and the growth of housing availability are also priorities. In order to accomplish the latter, “a variety of housing types will be provided within each district to ensure the districts’ social diversity.” The city also plans to grow the current stock of “smaller residential units in the short term” with 25% of new housing specifically intended for rental. An additional objective in neighborhood development is that “people will not need a car to access services within their neighborhood,” a goal which will be accomplished by increasing the number of corner stores selling groceries, everyday goods, and services.
Reducing private car travel and facilitating alternative means of transportation are also primary goals of the revised proposal. The intention is that by making improvements to the current Strætó system, “the ratio of bus travel of all trips made should be up to at least 12% by 2030.” Cycling trips are hoped to be up by 8% and pedestrian travel up by 22% by enforcing a requirement that biking storage be available in all new buildings, developing a sheltered streetscape to encourage bike and pedestrian travel, and redesigning and improving bike pathways throughout the city. The city also advocates for the development of a light rail system within the capital region.
The revised Municipal Plan is based on the assumption that by 2030, the population of Reykjavík will be over 143,000, with 39% of the country living in the capital region. It is also believed that working-age people will make up 54% of the city.
The full, 64 page proposal can be read online.

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