Transforming a town into a city

Lillestrøm, Skedsmo, Norway

SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities
Lillestrøm, located in the municipality of Skedsmo in Norway, has decided for strategic reasons that the head of planning is responsible not only for physical planning but also for relations and cooperation with neighbouring municipalities and citizens. The regulatory document ”Urban development and urban strategy – the 2050 perspective” is the urban strategy that has been produced to promote sustainable urbanisation. Its main feature is a more integrated city structure as a prerequisite for sustainable development. It has therefore been decided to connect three smaller towns, creating a joint urban core as a well-functioning and inclusive meeting place.

When Lillestrøm was on the verge of becoming a city, the leadership soon realised the importance of having common goals for development so that urbanisation would not merely take place, but be actively planned. The planning department produced the plan which then acquired support among the political leadership.

The idea of building a larger city came about at the end of the 1990s when the local airport closed down and at the same time the high-speed train station was built. The new railway and high-speed trains lead to a major population increase. It therefore became necessary to take a comprehensive view on how the area should be managed in the future. Suddenly, the possibility arose of transforming a small place into a larger city with ambitions.

Good practices & solutions

The idea behind further integrating the city structure is that the municipality apportions services between the localities so that a common identity is created, but with varying functions that complement each other. Furthermore, natural and cultural values steer the development so that green areas outside the city remain undisturbed. Considerable weight is given to pedestrians and cyclists who are guaranteed unbroken and clear routes.There is also a total prohibition on more cars in the city even though the population is estimated to increase considerably over the coming decades.

Outcome & opportunities

Lilleström was able to make good use of the old structures and at the same time build new and functionally mixed neighbourhoods without neglecting aesthetic and cultural values.

Lessons learned & recommendations

Success factors identified in Lilleströms quest to transform their town into a city include having foresight and unprejudiced visions, planning for a mixed city, carrying out feasibility studies and preparing citizens gradually for the change that is to come.

Related SDG targets
Further reading

Kommuneplan 2015-2026

Skedsmo municipality 

Engage for the SDGs


FacebookTwitterLinkedInCopy Link