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What Are the Needs of City Dwellers in Terms of the Development of Public Spaces? A Case Study of Participatory Budgeting in Częstochowa, Poland

Authors:

Abstract

Participatory Budgeting (PB) is considered a human-centered method of public resource management and investment planning, which strongly reflects the needs of the inhabitants of the municipality. The aim of this article is to assess the structure of the inhabitants’ needs expressed in the PB procedures in Częstochowa, Poland and their relation to the social and demographic characteristics of the city districts. The standard methods of quantitative and qualitative analysis were used (Pearson correlation coefficient and content analysis of the municipal documents), based on the data about: (1) the projects implemented in Częstochowa PB in the years 2015–2019; (2) the age structures and population density in the districts; and (3) qualitative data on district development characteristics. Based on the authors’ typology of projects, it was found that the most popular tasks were related to the comfort and safety of mobility and recreational facilities used for spending free time in public spaces. A relatively lower level of activity of the citizens was found when expressing their needs in central, densely populated districts with a high share of people aged over 65, and a relatively higher level of activity was found in the districts with a high proportion of people aged 0–18 and with lower population density. In the densely populated central districts, relatively high interest in the development of green areas was observed, while in the less populated developing peripheral districts, the preferred infrastructure was related to mobility. These correlations can be logically explained by the conditions related to the development processes of individual districts. The authors conclude that PB can be an important mechanism in determining local needs for the development of public spaces; however, it rewards the needs of the most active social groups.
Citation: Kołat, K.; Furmankiewicz,
M.; Kalisiak-M˛edelska, M. WhatAre
the Needs of City Dwellers in Terms of
the Development of Public Spaces? A
Case Study of Participatory Budgeting
in Cz˛estochowa, Poland. Int. J.
Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19,
5171. https://doi.org/10.3390/
ijerph19095171
Academic Editors: Stefania Toselli,
Letizia Cremonini, Teodoro Georgiadis
and Paul B. Tchounwou
Received: 4 March 2022
Accepted: 20 April 2022
Published: 24 April 2022
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4.0/).
International Journal of
Environmental Research
and Public Health
Article
What Are the Needs of City Dwellers in Terms of the Development
of Public Spaces? A Case Study of Participatory Budgeting in
Cz˛estochowa, Poland
Katarzyna Kołat 1, Marek Furmankiewicz 1, * and Magdalena Kalisiak-M˛edelska 2
1Institute of Spatial Management, Wroclaw University of Environmental and Life Sciences, Grunwaldzka St. 55,
50-357 Wroclaw, Poland; kolatkatarzyna@gmail.com
2
Department of Applied Economics, Wroclaw University of Environmental and Life Sciences, Grunwaldzki Sq. 24A,
50-363 Wroclaw, Poland; magdalena.kalisiak-medelska@upwr.edu.pl
*Correspondence: marek.furmankiewicz@upwr.edu.pl
Abstract:
Participatory Budgeting (PB) is considered a human-centered method of public resource
management and investment planning, which strongly reflects the needs of the inhabitants of the
municipality. The aim of this article is to assess the structure of the inhabitants’ needs expressed
in the PB procedures in Cz˛estochowa, Poland and their relation to the social and demographic
characteristics of the city districts. The standard methods of quantitative and qualitative analysis
were used (Pearson correlation coefficient and content analysis of the municipal documents), based
on the data about: (1) the projects implemented in Cz˛estochowa PB in the years 2015–2019; (2) the age
structures and population density in the districts; and (3) qualitative data on district development
characteristics. Based on the authors’ typology of projects, it was found that the most popular tasks
were related to the comfort and safety of mobility and recreational facilities used for spending free
time in public spaces. A relatively lower level of activity of the citizens was found when expressing
their needs in central, densely populated districts with a high share of people aged over 65, and a
relatively higher level of activity was found in the districts with a high proportion of people aged
0–18 and with lower population density. In the densely populated central districts, relatively high
interest in the development of green areas was observed, while in the less populated developing
peripheral districts, the preferred infrastructure was related to mobility. These correlations can be
logically explained by the conditions related to the development processes of individual districts.
The authors conclude that PB can be an important mechanism in determining local needs for the
development of public spaces; however, it rewards the needs of the most active social groups.
Keywords:
public spaces management; participatory budgeting; community needs; demographic structures;
urban districts development; Cz˛estochowa; Poland
1. Introduction
In the last few decades, interest in participatory methods of local spatial planning and
sustainable resources management has grown significantly worldwide [
1
,
2
]. This is related
to the abandoning of the priority of economic growth measured primarily by the volume of
production, income, and other economic and business indicators, for the priority of quality-
of-life improvement, the measure of which is meeting local social needs [
3
]. As a result,
a human-centered approach, related more to humanistic values, is developed [
4
,
5
]. In
this approach, government and public administration are encouraged to meet community
needs by facilitating the collaborative definition of local demands, co-creating solutions,
and making changes in response to local consultations, voting procedures, or cross-sectoral
negotiations [
6
,
7
]. Creating participatory budgeting (PB) is considered one of the many
possible methods aimed at developing a human-centered approach [
8
,
9
], based on which
it is the local inhabitants who prepare and choose projects to be implemented by public
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 5171. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19095171 https://www.mdpi.com/journal/ijerph
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 5171 2 of 21
administration, rather than officials or managers. PB increases the sensitivity of urban
policy to local social needs [10].
The general trend of seeking methods to increase the effectiveness and transparency
of local governments in meeting the local needs of inhabitants was of great importance
for the development of PB [
11
13
]. The efforts were made to introduce administrative
procedures in which the inhabitants decide on the local public investments and land
development methods and in which the democratic authorities support and implement
these arrangements on a yearly basis [
14
16
]. PB allows local communities to report
investment needs regarding public resources, participate in the preparation of projects, and
then vote on which tasks are to be implemented. The projects that received the most votes
are financed by the municipality within the nearest, usually annual, budget [17].
The PB method has been developing since the 1990s in Brazil [
18
,
19
]; it has quickly
spread to many cities all over the world, especially in Latin America [
20
] and in Western
Europe [
21
,
22
]. A little later, this method began to be implemented in the post-socialist
countries of Central and Eastern Europe [
23
26
] and also on other continents [
27
30
]. The
diffusion of PB was facilitated by the existing information exchange within the framework
of international cooperation between the municipal governments and communities [
31
,
32
]
and as a result of PB promotion by various international organizations [
30
]. Many authors
indicate that increasing the involvement of inhabitants in local development processes
often favors the implementation of the sustainable development idea to a greater extent
than the more pro-investment-oriented activities of public authorities or the profit-oriented
private sector [3336].
In Poland, the first initiatives imitating PB were announced in the years 2010–2012,
and in the next few years it became one of the most popular participation initiatives in
the process of managing public spaces in municipalities [
37
39
]. In 2020, PB was imple-
mented in all 66 cities with the highest administrative status of poviat (county), including
18 regional capital cities [40,41], and in many other smaller towns [9].
The literature on PB implemented in various cities of the world is extremely abundant.
Most authors, however, focus on the socio-political issues related to organizing the process
of inhabitants’ participation in the selection of local projects for implementation and its
role in local co-management and citizens’ well-being [
19
,
42
,
43
]. The models of social
participation and political processes for involving inhabitants in managing local resources
are discussed in detail [
44
46
]. Organizational procedures and the activity of residentsor all
inhabitants in voting are analyzed [
23
,
47
,
48
], along with the financial issues [
40
,
49
]. There is
much less research on the geographical distribution of local projects in city districts [
50
]. The
source literature also lacks studies attempting to establish correlations between the socio-
demographic structures of districts inhabitants and the needs of public space development
they express. There are also few analyses of spatial activities carried out by inhabitants in
expressing these needs, e.g., assessing whether the inhabitants of densely populated central
multi-family housing areas or the less populated peripheral areas remain more active.
In the paper, the authors try to fill in this research gap, focusing on the issues of
type structure and spatial distribution of investment projects (the so-called hard projects)
selected in the districts characterized by diverse socio-demographic structures, as part of
PB procedures in Cz˛estochowa, in the years 2015–2019. The analyzed projects address
the development of municipal areas and facilities managed by the municipal authorities
(public spaces). The research case study is a medium-sized industrial and service city
located in southern Poland. This is an example of a city where public authorities have been
interested in increasing community participation in municipal resource management and
investment planning for the last 20 years [
48
,
51
]. The main research objectives (RO) of this
article include:
RO 1: The assessment of correlations between the demographic structures of district
inhabitants and their activity in expressing their needs regarding the management of public
spaces using the PB method (Section 4.1);
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 5171 3 of 21
RO 2: The inventory, typology, and analysis of the structure of project types planned
and implemented in the city case study, which reflect the priority needs of inhabitants
involved in PB processes (Section 4.2);
RO 3: The assessment of correlations between the demographic structures of district
inhabitants and the type of selected projects (Section 4.3).
The main research hypothesis of the article is the statement that the local needs pre-
sented by the city inhabitants in terms of the development of public spaces, revealed based
on the PB procedures, are related, i.e., to the socio-demographic structures of the districts.
The study also discusses the possible impact of other local factors on the types of local
projects selected for implementation, including the condition of land and infrastructure
development as well as legal and administrative restrictions. Getting to know the main
needs of the inhabitants and their activity in expressing them, as well as understanding the
relationship between the demographic structures of the inhabitants of districts and their
needs, may be helpful in formulating urban development strategies and plans.
After reviewing the literature (Section 2), the authors present the applied research
qualitative and quantitative methodologies (Section 3) and results (Section 4). In Section 5
(Discussion), the research findings are discussed in relation to the studies conducted by
other authors. On this basis, in Section 6(Conclusions), the postulates regarding the
possibility of further in-depth research of the tasks carried out within PB are formulated.
2. Literature Review—What Are the Needs of the Inhabitants in Different Cities, Expressed
within the Participatory Budgeting?
An increasing number of studies on PB appear in the literature, in which the types of
selected projects are analyzed as well as the elements of geographical analysis regarding
the activity of voting inhabitants and the distribution of projects in the individual city
districts are addressed. The descriptive studies dominate, which analyze, to a small extent,
the relationships between the results of PB and the socio-demographic structures of the
population or the features of land and infrastructure development. The analyses presented
in the world literature most often address ecological projects related to environmental
protection and climate change adaptation and mitigation. For example, Gheorghina and
Tap [
52
] analyzed the support for the ecology-oriented projects in participatory budgeting
in Cluj-Napoca (Romania) between 2017 and 2019. They found general interest in envi-
ronmental issues. Falanga et al. [
53
] analyzed data on local projects in the thematic area
“environment, green structure, and energy” from 2008 to 2018 in Lisbon (Portugal) and
focused on four items: citizens’ proposals; votes; projects; and public funding. About 38%
of citizen proposals were submitted in the analyzed thematic area, while around 27% of the
projects were eventually funded; however, the share of this type of project in the budget
showed a decreasing tendency. Most of these types of projects concerned the improvement
or creation of new parks and gardens, and the regeneration and green recovery of streets,
squares, and public spaces. Cabannes [
29
] analyzed the extent to which PB contributed
to climate change adaptation and mitigation, based on the analysis of 4400 projects from
fifteen cities and regions (inhabited by between 26,000 and four million people) in the
global South and North (including five cases from Europe). He found that PB initiatives
related to climate change did not emerge in response to international priorities but as a
citizen and local government reaction to very precise and immediate local climatic effects,
so the local needs were the most important.
In Polish literature, there is particularly great interest in PB as it is a relatively new
form of increasing social participation in this country. Many works present case studies
of individual cities or comparative studies that analyze the structures of the implemented
project types. However, there are much fewer analyses of the reasons for such differences,
whether they are related only to the condition of public infrastructure in a given city or if
the differences also result from various socio-demographic structures of the inhabitants as
well as the existing cultural conditions.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 5171 4 of 21
In the majority of the analyzed cities, the dominant type of selected projects has been
road infrastructure, related to the mobility of inhabitants. For example, Polko [
54
] observed
in D ˛abrowa Górnicza (118,285 inhabitants in 2020) that the most frequently selected projects
were “roads, parking lots, and pavements” (33.8% of accepted projects) and “leisure time
(play-grounds, gyms)” (27.7%). Similarly, in Katowice PB (290,553 inhabitants in 2020), in the
years 2015–2017, most of the projects concerned the renovation of neglected road infrastructure,
pavements, and pedestrian routes [
55
]. Similarly, in Wrocław (641,928 inhabitants in 2020),
in the PB 2014, most of the funds were invested in roads (28%), followed by recreational
facilities (19%) and educational facilities (connected with schools) with their neighboring
infrastructure (15%) [50,56,57].
Wójcik [
58
] compared projects in three Polish cities: Gda´nsk, Pozna ´n, and Lublin.
In these cities, the most frequently submitted projects were road ones (footpaths and
roadways, driveways, speed bumps, the lighting of pedestrian- and roadways, traffic lights,
and road signs). As the research conducted by Bernaciak and Bernaciak indicates [
59
], in
Pozna´n (532,048 inhabitants in 2020), in the PB 2013–2019, the projects related to human
mobility were most commonly aimed at the construction and extension of bicycle paths
and the safety of pedestrians. The research findings show an extensive interest of the city
dwellers in mobility infrastructure issues.
In many other cities, the dominant type of implemented project was sports and recre-
ational facilities related to spending free time. Such a project was dominant, for example,
in Toru´n (198,613 inhabitants in 2020), in the years 2014–2017. The most frequently selected
projects were sports and recreation infrastructure (including green areas development). In
the first three years, road infrastructure projects were ranked as the second, but the share
of this type of project declined in the following years. The projects related to “culture and
education” were frequently selected. There was an increase in the number of activities
addressing “safety, security and order”, e.g., introducing additional lighting, adapting
space to people with disabilities, and introducing new litter bins [60].
In Szczecin (398,255 inhabitants in 2020), in the years 2014–2019, among 54 completed
projects, the majority referred to recreational areas and greenery (29.6%) and sports facilities
(22.2%) [
34
]. Similar results were recorded for PB in Lublin (338,586 inhabitants in 2020),
where, according to the research by Kociuba and Rabczewska [
61
], in the case of district
projects submitted for PB 2017, the largest number of applications was related to leisure
and recreation (23.4%), followed by construction or modernization of streets (18.6%) and
sports facilities (17.1%). The most popular categories submitted by the inhabitants as part
of the city-wide projects were sports facilities (22 projects) and rest and recreation facilities
(13 projects).
In some cities, projects related to infrastructure used by children and young people
were selected most frequently. For example, in Łód´z PB (672,185 inhabitants in 2020),
in 2016, the city-wide projects submitted for voting usually concerned “education and
upbringing” (36%; usually related to the modernization of schools and their infrastructure),
followed by “transport and communication” (27%) [62,63].
The comprehensive comparison of the types of projects selected in the PB 2019 and
2020 in 18 regional capital cities of Poland was performed by Kociuba and Bielecka [
41
].
In most cities, the highest popularity was assigned to the projects in the field of “rest
and recreation” (a total of 1149 projects) and “sport” (456 projects). “Rest and recreation”
very often concerned the development of small infrastructure in green areas. Similarly,
Mucha [
64
] carried out the research covering 6061 projects in 243 cities and towns in
Poland. The author analyzed three main types of projects: technical infrastructure, social
infrastructure, and soft projects, as well as their subtypes. The most common projects were
related to sport and recreational functions of urban spaces, to equipping and improving
the security of educational establishments and playgrounds for children, and to improving
the quality of road infrastructure.
The review of the above articles suggests that, on a nationwide scale, the projects
related to human mobility, sport, recreation, and education (e.g., school facilities and areas)
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 5171 5 of 21
were the most frequently implemented tasks in Polish cities. Similarly, in the research by
Martel [
65
], covering 4514 projects from 321 Polish cities, the most frequently implemented
ones belonged to such research categories as “space for mobility” and “space for leisure”.
The presented literature shows the preferences of city dwellers expressed through PB;
however, it lacks an analysis of the existing correlations between the socio-demographic
characteristics of the inhabitants and the projects they choose. The source literature only
attempted to assess the relationship between the types of projects and the overall city
development. For example, Bernaciak and Kopczy ´nski [
66
] stated that greenery projects
were more frequently submitted in better urbanized regions featuring densely built-up
areas. In less developed cities of eastern Poland, inhabitants preferred hard projects raising
the level of social and economic development.
In this source literature analysis, the authors deliberately omit the research of rural
village funds and urban local grant funds existing in Poland, although in some studies they
are presented as one of the forms of participatory budgeting [
35
,
67
,
68
]. There are different
procedures for submitting and selecting community projects; therefore, in the authors’
opinion, they should be considered as a different form of increasing social participation in
satisfying local needs.
In the following sections of this paper, the authors present the research area and the
methodology used in the analysis of the PB in Cz˛estochowa.
3. Materials and Methods
3.1. Introduction to the Case—The General Characteristics of the PB Rules
Until 2017, there were no separate legal regulations for participatory budgeting in
Poland, hence local governments had great freedom in formulating their principles as
well as their full voluntary establishment. The PB followed the resolutions passed by
the municipal councils or orders issued by the municipal mayors regarding the mode of
conducting public consultations [37,45].
Since 2018, PB was formalized through the amendment of the Act on Municipal Self-
Government, and basic issues concerning the form of consultations were supplemented [
69
].
As Article 5a provides: “Within the framework of a civic budget (participatory budgeting),
the inhabitants vote directly for their part of municipal budget expenditures each year. The
tasks selected in the process are included in the municipal resolution” [
69
,
70
]. The Act
introduced as obligatory [47,61,69]:
Establishing PB in cities with “poviat” (county) rights in the amount of at least 0.5%
of the municipal expenditure included in the last submitted budget implementation
report (there were 66 such cities in Poland in 2021, including Cz˛estochowa);
Conducting direct voting;
That the local government specifies the minimum number of signatures required for
the submitted application (project) but must not require more signatures under the
project proposal than 0.1% of the inhabitants in the area covered by the budget pool in
which the project is submitted (i.e., in a district inhabited by 5000 people, a signature
of 5 people is enough to submit a project);
Dividing the funds into independent pools covering the entire municipality and its
parts in the intra-municipal units or groups of intra-municipal units (such as urban
districts or housing estates).
Most large cities in Poland are divided into intra-municipal units, whose councils,
however, have relatively low competences in the area of urban economy planning [
71
].
Pursuant to the Act, part of the resources at the disposal of PB is divided between such
administrative units (the so-called “district projects” or “local baskets”), owing to which
their inhabitants have equal opportunities to use “their funds” (for their district), which
support the satisfaction of local social needs. The second part of PB funds (usually smaller)
is allocated to the city-wide projects (“city-wide tasks”), which may be located throughout
the city, concerning more than one housing estate or urban district [
47
]. This division of PB
was also used in Cz˛estochowa.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 5171 6 of 21
A simplified block diagram of cyclical PB procedures in Cz˛estochowa is presented in
Figure 1. According to the authors, there are three stages of PB in which inhabitants can
express their local needs: the stage of evaluation and consultation regarding the program
procedures, followed by the stage of project submission, and finally by the stage of voting on
projects. Two stages are related to the introduction of legal and administrative restrictions,
i.e., the establishment of the program rules (limitations as to the scope of project works, their
location and value) and the stage of qualifying projects for voting by the municipal officials.
The projects are prepared by inhabitants and usually submitted in the second quarter of the
year (typically May–June). After their formal verification (typically June–July), the lists of
projects approved for voting are prepared, and the voting takes place in the third quarter of
the year (typically September). As a result of voting, the ranking of projects is determined.
Projects are financed for which the funds planned in a given year are sufficient (starting
from the first one).
1
Figure 1.
A simplified block diagram of PB procedures in Cz˛estochowa. The breakdown into
procedural stages by month is schematic as the dates of the individual stages of the PB change from
year to year. Source: Prepared by authors.
In our research, the focus was on the final stage of project selection, i.e., on the tasks
accepted for implementation as a result of voting. We consider them as a reflection of the
most important needs expressed by the inhabitants.
3.2. The General Characteristics of the Research Area
Cz˛estochowa is divided into 20 auxiliary city units, called districts, in which their
inhabitants can submit and select local projects (Figure 2; Appendix A). The most densely
populated districts with the domination of multi-family housing (more than 2001 people
per square km) are the central ones located longitudinally along the former (historical)
main north–south national road (now transit traffic is directed outside the city via the
motorway ring road). Old tenement houses, with relatively high share of people in post-
working age (65 and over), prevail in the three central districts (Stare Miasto, ´
Sródmie´scie,
and Podjasnogórska).
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 5171 7 of 21
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, x FOR PEER REVIEW 7 of 22
per square km) are the central ones located longitudinally along the former (historical)
main northsouth national road (now transit traffic is directed outside the city via the
motorway ring road). Old tenement houses, with relatively high share of people in post-
working age (65 and over), prevail in the three central districts (Stare Miasto, Śródmieście,
and Podjasnogórska).
Large districts, usually situated in the south and east of the city, are the least popu-
lated, and they are dominated by single-family housing (less than 500 people per square
km). Single-family housing is developing especially in the north-eastern part of the city.
These areas are usually inhabited by people with a higher social status [72]. These districts
feature more green spaces and less intense car traffic than the central districts.
According to the 2016 report [73], private cars were the main means of transport for
the inhabitants, followed by public transport, whereas bicycle transport was of little im-
portance.
Figure 2. The location of Częstochowa in Poland, the division of the city into districts, and these
districts’ population density (people per square kilometer). Source: Prepared by K. Kołat.
3.3. The Subject of Analysis and the Applied Methodology
The analysis covered the data on district projects that met the formal and legal crite-
rion specified by the City Hall in Częstochowa and that were subject to the voting proce-
dure in five editions of PB (years 2015–2019). The analysis uses the division of projects
into “hard” and “soft” [74]. The first, hard projects, which were analyzed in the paper,
refer to the relatively unique tangible products, such as technical infrastructure, buildings,
and plants. They accounted for 78% of all projects submitted in the analyzed PB. The anal-
ysis does not include the tasks of equipping libraries, community centers, etc., e.g., the
purchase of books and audio storage media. They are not related to the development of
public areas. In the case of soft projects, the final result is not a typical tangible asset but
the organization of events, promotional campaigns, social education, etc. They were also
excluded from this analysis. The other research, which covered 584 cities populated by
more than 5000 inhabitants in Poland, also confirmed their inhabitantsprimary interest
in hard projects [38,75]. This justifies the possibility of focusing the research on these types
of projects, i.e., those that are durable in nature. Ultimately, 1224 submitted projects were
Figure 2.
The location of Cz˛estochowa in Poland, the division of the city into districts, and these
districts’ population density (people per square kilometer). Source: Prepared by K. Kołat.
Large districts, usually situated in the south and east of the city, are the least populated,
and they are dominated by single-family housing (less than 500 people per square km).
Single-family housing is developing especially in the north-eastern part of the city. These
areas are usually inhabited by people with a higher social status [
72
]. These districts feature
more green spaces and less intense car traffic than the central districts.
According to the 2016 report [
73
], private cars were the main means of transport for the
inhabitants, followed by public transport, whereas bicycle transport was of little importance.
3.3. The Subject of Analysis and the Applied Methodology
The analysis covered the data on district projects that met the formal and legal criterion
specified by the City Hall in Cz˛estochowa and that were subject to the voting procedure in
five editions of PB (years 2015–2019). The analysis uses the division of projects into “hard”
and “soft” [
74
]. The first, hard projects, which were analyzed in the paper, refer to the
relatively unique tangible products, such as technical infrastructure, buildings, and plants.
They accounted for 78% of all projects submitted in the analyzed PB. The analysis does
not include the tasks of equipping libraries, community centers, etc., e.g., the purchase
of books and audio storage media. They are not related to the development of public
areas. In the case of soft projects, the final result is not a typical tangible asset but the
organization of events, promotional campaigns, social education, etc. They were also
excluded from this analysis. The other research, which covered 584 cities populated by
more than 5000 inhabitants in Poland, also confirmed their inhabitants’ primary interest
in hard projects [
38
,
75
]. This justifies the possibility of focusing the research on these
types of projects, i.e., those that are durable in nature. Ultimately, 1224 submitted projects
were qualified for the study of citizens’ activity and project type structure, of which
349 projects chosen by the voting inhabitants were used for the priority needs analysis and
correlation analysis.
The authors’ own qualitative typology was applied in their analysis. For this purpose,
nine types of projects related to the construction, renovation, or modernization of urban
infrastructure or land use were identified. The division used is a qualitative typology based
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 5171 8 of 21
on project description and not a quantitative classification. We do not have numerical data
on the detailed scope and value of works in projects. For this reason, we did not analyze
the value of the projects. Such a division is acceptable in the methodology of typology [
76
].
The individual projects could include works, which cannot be analyzed in a completely
separate way, related to the different types identified. The projects were assigned to a
given type (the acronyms of type used in statistics, tables and figures in the content of the
article are given in brackets) based on the main scope of tasks described, according to the
following criteria:
Pedestrian infrastructure (variable acronym: PEDESTRIAN)—separate pedestrian
routes (e.g., pavements etc.);
Bicycle infrastructure (BICYCLE)—separate bicycle paths, installations of bicycle
stands, bicycle repair stations, and the infrastructure of city bicycle rental points;
The road infrastructure (ROAD)—including, e.g., the surface of roads accessible to
vehicles and other works within the road lanes, including pedestrian crossings, speed
bumps, bus stops and bus shelters, parking lots and parking spaces, traffic lights, road
lighting, technical infrastructure running under the roads (including water supply
and sanitary sewage systems), and drainage ditches draining the road lane. This
category also included tasks that covered the modernization of pedestrian and bicycle
routes, together with the road, and cannot be methodically analyzed separately in the
PEDESTRIAN and BICYCLE types;
Sports infrastructure (SPORT)—the construction or modernization of sports facilities
not related to educational institutions;
Educational infrastructure (EDUCATION)—the installation and supplementation of
devices, as well as the development and revitalization of the areas within educational
institutions; this infrastructure may include school sports facilities;
Infrastructure and recreational areas (RECREATION)— the arrangement of new areas
and the construction of facilities to be used for resting and recreation by the inhab-
itants, including playgrounds for children, outdoor gyms, and their modernization
and supplementation;
Small architecture (SMALL ARCH)—the installation of small objects supplementing
public space, e.g., litter bins, benches, information boards, and lighting;
Urban greenery (GREENERY)—the development, cleaning, care, and supplementation
of green areas, including squares, parks, and separating parks for animals with the
installation of devices such as pet waste stations or nesting boxes for birds;
Other (OTHER)—city monitoring, the comprehensive revitalization of backyards,
the installation and renovation of the city sanitary facilities, and the renovation of
public buildings.
In order to assess the correlation between the demographic structures of the district
inhabitants and their activity in expressing needs within the PB, as well as the structure
of project types, the authors used demographic data provided by the Cz˛estochowa City
Hall: the number of inhabitants in districts, and the population density and age structure
of the population in three occupational categories (in the pre-working age—0–18 years old
(children and adolescents), working age—19–64 years old, and post-working age—65 years
old or more). At this administrative level, no data are available on the income or education
level of the population.
Population density is an indicator that, in the conditions of Cz˛estochowa (and many
other large Polish cities), partially reflects the character of the districts. The highest popu-
lation density is often recorded in central districts dominated by the relatively old multi-
family buildings, traditionally inhabited by an aging population presenting either an
average or poor financial situation [
77
79
]. In turn, peripheral districts characterized typ-
ically by low population density cover the areas with a high share of new single-family
housing (terraced or detached), usually inhabited by people with a higher material status.
This simplification results from the absence of detailed data on the type of households and
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 5171 9 of 21
the material status of the population. There are no outer slum districts in Poland, such as
in some developing countries [80].
The procedures of IBM SPSS Statistics 27 computer program were applied in the anal-
yses of Pearson’s (r) correlation because the analysis covers quotient data. The correlation
coefficients were analysed for the three significance levels: p< 0.01, 0.01
p< 0.05 [
81
],
and 0.05
p< 0.1 (statistical trend) [
82
]. In the analysis, predictors mainly take the form
of demographic variables (additionally an area of district), while the response variables,
containing the data on: (1) voting activity and (2) the type structure of 349 projects (ex-
pressed as a percentage—see Appendix A), were selected in voting. The authors realize
that a possible correlation does not mean a cause-and-effect relationship, and a potential
relation may result from other factors presented in the discussion. The authors also apply
traditional methods such as content analysis [
83
] of municipal reports and strategic docu-
ments [
73
,
84
86
], and a qualitative description [
87
]. The qualitative data from municipal
documents were used by the authors in the general characteristics of the PB procedures
and districts, which helped to explain the observed statistical relationships. In the study,
the authors consciously do not examine the overall value of projects in districts as the
financial resources for districts were allocated in proportion to their population. Thus, such
a correlation is determined administratively by the city authorities.
4. Results
4.1. The Activity of District Inhabitants in Reporting Investment Needs in PB—The Spatial
Inventory of Finally Accepted and Rejected Projects
The largest number of projects in the analyzed period was submitted in the densely
populated districts such as Tysi ˛aclecie (136 projects), ´
Sródmie´scie (89), Raków (87), and
Wrzosowiak (86) (Figure 3). These districts cover a strip of concentrated multi-family
housing with a well-developed social, service, and commercial infrastructure. However, in
terms of the number of projects submitted per 1000 inhabitants, these districts were among
the least active, especially Wrzosowiak, Raków and Północ districts (indicators from 0.6 to 0.8).
These three districts concentrated 33% of all city inhabitants in 2019 [84].
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, x FOR PEER REVIEW 10 of 22
positive correlation coefficient between the attendance in PB and the share of people aged
0–18: r = 0.601). The attendance was also higher in peripheral large area districts (there
was a positive correlation coefficient between the area of the district and the attendance
in PB: r = 0.763), where there are more green areas and technical infrastructure is less de-
veloped. At a low level of significance (0.05 p < 0.1), the statistical trend of lower activity
presented by the inhabitants in central districts with a high share of people aged over 65
was also observed.
Figure 3. The location of the analyzed district projects submitted in all editions of Częstochowa PB
and the indicator of the number of projects submitted per 1000 inhabitants of a given district. Ac-
cepted projectsprojects that won the vote, accepted to implementation; rejected projectsprojects
that did not win the vote. Source: Prepared by K. Kołat.
Table 1. The table of correlations between analysed factors and PB voting activity (PB frequency),
in Częstochowa districts.
Variable
Coefficients
1
Correlation with PB Frequency
Area
r
0.763 ***
p
0.000
Population
r
−0.409 *
p
0.073
Population density
r
−0.528 **
p
0.017
Population change
r
0.426 *
p
0.061
Population aged 0–18
r
0.601 ***
p
0.005
Population aged 19–64
r
0.170
p
0.475
Population aged 65+
r
−0.382 *
p
0.097
Figure 3.
The location of the analyzed district projects submitted in all editions of Cz˛estochowa
PB and the indicator of the number of projects submitted per 1000 inhabitants of a given district.
Accepted projects—projects that won the vote, accepted to implementation; rejected projects—projects
that did not win the vote. Source: Prepared by K. Kołat.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 5171 10 of 21
The smallest number of proposals was recorded in peripheral districts with the smallest
population: Kiedrzyn (31 projects) and Mirów (31). However, in terms of the relative
number submitting the project propositions, these districts were characterized by fairly
high activity. The highest average indicator of activity in project submissions by inhabitants
over the period of five editions was recorded in Mirów and Błeszno districts, where it
reached a value from 2.2 to 3.0 submitted projects per 1000 inhabitants. In 2019, these
districts were inhabited by only 3% of the city population [
84
]. These are outer districts with
a high share of new single-family houses inhabited by people of relatively high material
status, often working in the nearby industrial districts.
As a result of the voting, most projects were accepted in the relatively densely popu-
lated districts such as Tysi ˛aclecie (31 projects), Północ (28), and Cz˛estochówka-Parkitka (27).
In relation to the number of submitted projects, most of them were selected in Grabówka
(52.8%), Podjasnogórska (46.2%), and Gnaszyn-Kawodrza (44.2%). The lowest values of
this indicator were recorded in Raków (11.5%) and Stare Miasto (12.7%)—the districts
where multi-family housing is predominant.
Overall, the authors have noted a statistically significant negative correlation coeffi-
cient between the population density of the district and the attendance in PB (r =
0.528;
Table 1). The districts inhabited by more families with children were more active (a positive
correlation coefficient between the attendance in PB and the share of people aged 0–18:
r = 0.601). The attendance was also higher in peripheral large area districts (there was a
positive correlation coefficient between the area of the district and the attendance in PB:
r = 0.763), where there are more green areas and technical infrastructure is less developed.
At a low level of significance (0.05
p< 0.1), the statistical trend of lower activity pre-
sented by the inhabitants in central districts with a high share of people aged over 65 was
also observed.
Table 1.
The table of correlations between analysed factors and PB voting activity (PB frequency), in
Cz˛estochowa districts.
Variable Coefficients 1Correlation with PB Frequency
Area r 0.763 ***
p0.000
Population r0.409 *
p0.073
Population density r0.528 **
p0.017
Population change r 0.426 *
p0.061
Population aged 0–18 r 0.601 ***
p0.005
Population aged 19–64 r 0.170
p0.475
Population aged 65+ r0.382 *
p0.097
1
Coefficients: r—Pearson correlation; p—statistical significance (two-sided): * 0.05
p< 0.1; ** 0.01
p< 0.05;
and *** p< 0.01.
4.2. Typology and Structure of Accepted and Rejected Projects
In the analyzed PB, the inhabitants most often expressed the need for the develop-
ment of road infrastructure (ROAD type, Figure 4). In this category 394 projects (32%)
were submitted, and 90 (23%) of them were voted through for implementation. In the
remaining categories, the inhabitants submitted much fewer ideas. The second most
frequently submitted group of projects concerned the category of recreation, in which
177 projects (14%) were proposed, and 45 (25%) of them were accepted. The lower numbers
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 5171 11 of 21
of submitted projects covered the following issues, listed in the declining order: pedestrian
(PEDESTRIAN) and bicycle (BICYCLE) infrastructure, education (EDUCATION), urban
green areas (GREENERY), small architecture (SMALL ARCH), OTHER category, and sports
infrastructure (SPORT). Among the projects selected for implementation, their largest num-
ber referred to the areas of education (14%) and recreation (11%). In total, 349 projects (29%)
out of the 1224 analyzed ones were selected for implementation in the course of voting.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, x FOR PEER REVIEW 11 of 22
1 Coefficients: rPearson correlation; pstatistical significance (two-sided): * 0.05 p < 0.1; ** 0.01
p < 0.05; and *** p < 0.01.
4.2. Typology and Structure of Accepted and Rejected Projects
In the analyzed PB, the inhabitants most often expressed the need for the develop-
ment of road infrastructure (ROAD type, Figure 4). In this category 394 projects (32%)
were submitted, and 90 (23%) of them were voted through for implementation. In the
remaining categories, the inhabitants submitted much fewer ideas. The second most fre-
quently submitted group of projects concerned the category of recreation, in which 177
projects (14%) were proposed, and 45 (25%) of them were accepted. The lower numbers
of submitted projects covered the following issues, listed in the declining order: pedes-
trian (PEDESTRIAN) and bicycle (BICYCLE) infrastructure, education (EDUCATION),
urban green areas (GREENERY), small architecture (SMALL ARCH), OTHER category,
and sports infrastructure (SPORT). Among the projects selected for implementation, their
largest number referred to the areas of education (14%) and recreation (11%). In total, 349
projects (29%) out of the 1224 analyzed ones were selected for implementation in the
course of voting.
Figure 4. The types of hard projects, accepted or rejected in municipal districts through voting pro-
cedures, in Częstochowa PB in the years 2015–2019. Data were sorted by the decreasing number of
projects submitted to voting procedures. Accepted projectsprojects that won the vote, accepted to
implementation; rejected projectsprojects that did not win the vote. Acronyms are explained in
methodology (Section 3.3). Source: the authors’ compilation based on the data from Częstochowa
City Hall.
4.3. Spatial Distribution of Individual Types of Projects in Relation to the Analysed Features of
Districts
A large diversification of the types of projects selected by the inhabitants for imple-
mentation was observed in the majority of the analyzed districts (minimum 4 analyzed
typesFigure 5). The road related type of projects (ROAD) was most often implemented
in the north-western part of the city (especially Północ and Tysiąclecie districts), but, gen-
erally, projects of this type were dispersed in many districts. Pavements (PEDESTRIAN)
and bicycle paths (BICYCLE) were frequently chosen in the densely populated districts,
along the old northsouth communication lane (e.g., Tysiąclecie, Wrzosowiak). Transport
traffic accumulates in these districts; therefore, pedestrians and cyclists actively aimed at
increasing their safety level. A fairly high concentration of projects was recorded in terms
of sports infrastructure (SPORT), which requires relatively large free areas (e.g., various
types of pitches, running tracks), hence the possibility of their location is limited. Small
scale architecture (SMALL ARCH) and recreation (RECREATION) projects were scattered
throughout the city, with their high percentage observed in the moderately populated
districts featuring predominantly dispersed or single-family housing (e.g., Stradom and
Figure 4.
The types of hard projects, accepted or rejected in municipal districts through voting
procedures, in Cz˛estochowa PB in the years 2015–2019. Data were sorted by the decreasing number
of projects submitted to voting procedures. Accepted projects—projects that won the vote, accepted
to implementation; rejected projects—projects that did not win the vote. Acronyms are explained in
methodology (Section 3.3). Source: the authors’ compilation based on the data from Cz˛estochowa
City Hall.
4.3. Spatial Distribution of Individual Types of Projects in Relation to the Analysed Features of Districts
A large diversification of the types of projects selected by the inhabitants for imple-
mentation was observed in the majority of the analyzed districts (minimum 4 analyzed
types—Figure 5). The road related type of projects (ROAD) was most often implemented
in the north-western part of the city (especially Północ and Tysi ˛aclecie districts), but, gen-
erally, projects of this type were dispersed in many districts. Pavements (PEDESTRIAN)
and bicycle paths (BICYCLE) were frequently chosen in the densely populated districts,
along the old north–south communication lane (e.g., Tysi ˛aclecie, Wrzosowiak). Transport
traffic accumulates in these districts; therefore, pedestrians and cyclists actively aimed at
increasing their safety level. A fairly high concentration of projects was recorded in terms
of sports infrastructure (SPORT), which requires relatively large free areas (e.g., various
types of pitches, running tracks), hence the possibility of their location is limited. Small
scale architecture (SMALL ARCH) and recreation (RECREATION) projects were scattered
throughout the city, with their high percentage observed in the moderately populated
districts featuring predominantly dispersed or single-family housing (e.g., Stradom and
Wyczerpy-Aniołów). The projects addressing educational areas (EDUCATION) were re-
lated to schools and kindergartens, which are usually located either inside or in the vicinity
of housing estates.
Projects addressing the organization of green areas (GREENERY) were relatively more
often selected for implementation in the densely populated districts (e.g., Podjasnogórska
and ´
Sródmie´scie; a statistically significant correlation coefficient between the population
density and the percentage share of greenery projects: r = 0.531; Table 2). The exception
to this rule was the most densely built-up central Stare Miasto (Old City), where no such
projects were selected for implementation. However, it is largely developed and arranged
in a way that makes it practically impossible to modernize the terrain function.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 5171 12 of 21
SMALL
EDU-
TION
GREEN-
r
0.102
−0.057
0.025
−0.155
0.482 **
0.086
0.224
−0.489 **
−0.218
p
0.669
0.813
0.917
0.513
0.031
0.719
0.343
0.029
0.355
r
−0.293
0.121
0.387 *
0.197
−0.187
0.117
−0.380 *
0.169
0.128
p
0.210
0.611
0.092
0.405
0.430
0.624
0.099
0.476
0.592
r
−0.464 **
0.030
0.182
0.310
−0.359
−0.023
−0.203
0.531 **
0.209
p
0.039
0.899
0.442
0.183
0.120
0.922
0.392
0.016
0.377
r
0.177
0.047
−0.206
−0.397 *
0.498 **
−0.050
−0.011
−0.129
0.053
p
0.456
0.845
0.383
0.083
0.025
0.835
0.962
0.588
0.824
r
0.276
0.120
−0.472 *
0.070
0.385 *
−0.208
0.254
−0.485 **
−0.062
p
0.239
0.613
0.036
0.770
0.094
0.379
0.280
0.030
0.794
r
0.130
0.279
−0.186
−0.087
0.193
0.037
0.107
−0.281
−0.296
p
0.585
0.233
0.433
0.716
0.415
0.876
0.653
0.229
0.204
Figure 5.
The number and structure of the types of analyzed district projects accepted for imple-
mentation in voting procedures in the years 2015–2019. Acronyms are explained in methodology
(Section 3.3). Source: Prepared by K. Kołat.
Table 2. A correlation table of the studied variables characterizing the districts of Cz˛estochowa.
Variable Coefficients1ROAD PEDESTRIAN BICYCLE SPORT SMALL ARCH EDUCATION RECREATION GREENERY OTHER
Area r 0.102 0.057 0.025 0.155 0.482 ** 0.086 0.224 0.489 ** 0.218
p0.669 0.813 0.917 0.513 0.031 0.719 0.343 0.029 0.355
Population r0.293 0.121 0.387 * 0.197 0.187 0.117 0.380 * 0.169 0.128
p0.210 0.611 0.092 0.405 0.430 0.624 0.099 0.476 0.592
Population density r0.464 ** 0.030 0.182 0.310 0.359 0.023 0.203 0.531 ** 0.209
p0.039 0.899 0.442 0.183 0.120 0.922 0.392 0.016 0.377
Population change r 0.177 0.047 0.206 0.397 * 0.498 ** 0.050 0.011 0.129 0.053
p0.456 0.845 0.383 0.083 0.025 0.835 0.962 0.588 0.824
Population aged 0–18 r 0.276 0.120 0.472 * 0.070 0.385 * 0.208 0.254 0.485** 0.062
p0.239 0.613 0.036 0.770 0.094 0.379 0.280 0.030 0.794
Population aged 19–64 r 0.130 0.279 0.186 0.087 0.193 0.037 0.107 0.281 0.296
p0.585 0.233 0.433 0.716 0.415 0.876 0.653 0.229 0.204
Population aged 65+ r0.210 0.261 0.337 0.033 0.310 0.059 0.188 0.419 * 0.248
p0.373 0.265 0.146 0.889 0.183 0.804 0.427 0.066 0.292
1Coefficients: r—Pearson correlation; p—statistical significance (two-sided): * 0.05 p< 0.1; and ** p< 0.05.
In the districts covering a large area, the projects related to small architecture were
selected more frequently (a statistically significant positive correlation coefficient between
the SMALL ARCH variable and the district area: r = 0.482). These are usually peripheral
areas, rich in undeveloped green areas, which were lacking such infrastructure. At the
same time, the population number is increasing and the housing areas are being expanded
in these sites. Hence, a correlation between the variables “population change” and SMALL
ARCH is r = 0.498.
Relatively high (as a percentage) demand for roads extension projects was observed in
less populated peripheral districts (a statistically significant negative correlation coefficient
between the share of road projects (ROAD) and the district population density: r =
0.464),
while for greenery it was observed in densely populated areas (r = 0.531). A negative corre-
lation between the share of the population aged 0–18 and the share of projects addressing
bicycle infrastructure (r =
0.472) and greenery (r =
0.485) was observed. Most people in
this age category live in peripheral districts with lower building density, less intense car
traffic, and more green areas than in the city center. There was also a statistical tendency to
select greenery projects in neighborhoods with a high share of people aged 65 and over
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 5171 13 of 21
(r = 0.419). These are central, densely populated districts with dominant old tenement
houses and other relatively old multi-family houses.
5. Discussion
The analyses carried out within the framework of this article confirm that the demo-
graphic characteristics of the population living in particular districts can be related to their
activity within PB. However, it is much more difficult to interpret the correlations between
age structures and the type of selected projects. This is due to the previously described
concentration of the specific population age groups in the districts featuring different types
of infrastructure development and land use. Both factors (demographic structures and
district development features) have high impact on the preferred project types. It is difficult
to separate them in the very general analysis conducted by the authors.
The caseof Cz˛estochowa showed that in the densely populated districts with multi-family
buildings, the inhabitants’ relative activity in submitting local projects per 1000 inhabitants was
lower than in the less populated districts, where single-family housing is more important.
It may be related to the higher wealth and education level presented by the inhabitants
of single-family estates. Similar characteristics were true for PB in Wrocław [
56
]. This
correlation may also be similar in other cities of Central and Eastern Europe; however,
undoubtedly it does not apply to large cities in the countries of the global South, where the
outer slum districts are often being developed and inhabited by people with the lowest
social and material status. As a result, Polish research findings cannot be universally related
to the problems of development characteristics for many other cities in the world [80].
The low activity rate in the submission of projects by the inhabitants of densely popu-
lated districts, with predominating old tenement houses and multi-family buildings, may
result from their lower social status or the poor social rooting of people who rent this type
of housing in the area [
78
,
85
]. However, a higher level of infrastructure development in
these areas, and thus a smaller number of undeveloped land in relation to the number of
inhabitants, may also be significant. In such a case, a smaller number of submitted projects
would result from meeting the needs in the field of public infrastructure more successfully
and not the effect of low social activity presented by the inhabitants. Additionally, a signifi-
cant area of the Podjasnogórska central district is protected as a “historical monument”,
which makes it difficult to freely locate new infrastructure here [72,88].
People residing in the densely populated central districts of Cz˛estochowa were rela-
tively inactive in voting. These areas are often characterized by a high proportion of people
aged 65 and over. Perhaps their low activity is influenced by their exclusion, both digital
(fewer people using the Internet in this age group) and physical (high share of people
with disabilities) [
89
]. It may also be influenced by a lower awareness of the possibilities
for meeting one’s expectations regarding spatial development in such a formula as PB.
Similarly, in Łóz, the voting share of people over 65 years of age was not high [
90
]. In the
majority of Polish cities, the largest number of people vote using Internet forms, which may
increase the influence of people actively using this medium [
90
]. Yet another reason may be
the mismatch of needs presented by the oldest age group and the scope of tasks feasible to
carry out, for example, older people may have high needs regarding healthcare services and
infrastructure. Meanwhile, health services in Poland are provided at the central–national
level and do not fall within the competence of a municipality. Since such projects cannot be
implemented, senior citizens may not be interested in participating in PB.
The priority of ensuring safety of local mobility complies with the modified concept
of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs [91]. During the last dozen or so years, in various cities in
Poland, similar results were observed regarding the structure of projects submitted and
selected for implementation. This is especially true for the relatively large cities with high
population density [56,58,62].
The needs to expand road infrastructure were not concentrated in central districts
but were frequently submitted in peripheral areas. This probably results from the fact
that the development of road infrastructure did not keep up with the increase in the
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 5171 14 of 21
area of residential building estates and the observed higher number of private motor
vehicles [
73
]. Especially in peripheral districts, with predominant single-family housing,
frequent long-term delays occur in the construction of public paved roads, compared to the
development of building plots. Separate bicycle paths are not popular in these districts due
to the relatively lower level of car traffic. However, this does not result from demographic
structures. It is worth noting that bicycle infrastructure in Poland is lagging behind, e.g.,
compared to the cities in Western and Northern European countries. As a result, projects
aimed at separating and developing bicycle paths are very popular among inhabitants [
92
],
especially because as a consequence of higher standard of living, the number of registered
cars in Poland has significantly increased in the recent 20 years [
93
]. Traffic jams and
deliberate restrictions on car entry to the city center result in some inhabitants using
bicycles, which is reflected in their interest in the development of infrastructure related to
this type of transport [
94
]. Higher social awareness and striving to increase the sense of
safety among cyclists and pedestrians in the environment of growing motor vehicle traffic
may also be of great importance [95].
High demand for the facilities and areas that meet recreational and sport needs has
been recorded in Cz˛estochowa. Projects of this type are often implemented in green
areas. This is typical for many PB in Poland [
57
,
60
,
65
] and may indicate the existing
insufficient development of this type of public infrastructure. These projects are closely
connected with the health of inhabitants who need public places to practice sports or
enjoy recreation and relaxation. The underdevelopment of this infrastructure type in
cities was probably due to the economic growth-based development concept, dominant
in the previous century, which focused on the development of industrial areas, road
infrastructure, and commercial services. A higher standard of living resulted in people
approaching recreational services related to spending free time as being more important.
Increasing the pressure on a healthy lifestyle and the related public infrastructure is a
typical tendency in many cities worldwide [
53
,
96
]. This largely applies to the development
of greenery, the lack of which is experienced by the inhabitants of large cities [
97
]. In
terms of spatial conditions related to the location of projects, the strongest concentration of
projects referring to greenery arrangement has been observed in densely populated areas
with high share of people aged 65 and older. These are probably the places of their frequent
daily resting as they are not a mobile population. In turn, greenery-oriented projects are
less popular in peripheral neighborhoods inhabited by an middle-aged immigrants with
children (from central districts or outside) as there are relatively many preserved green
areas (former forests and farmland).
Greenery projects usually included arranging and equipping these areas with small
architecture and small recreational and sports infrastructure (garbage cans, benches, and
equipment for practicing sport) rather than increasing their area. In Polish cities, greenery
usually constitutes a small percentage of the urban area [
98
]. Although even undeveloped
greenery fulfils numerous important ecological and social functions [
97
], the pressure from
the economic sector and city authorities for their economic or transport use is very strong
due to high land prices and a shortage of land that can be used for development and the
necessary urban infrastructure [
99
101
]. Additionally, for the city authorities, public green
areas usually generate costs (they do not bring budget revenues), while the land sold to a
private owner (usually a company or a developer) does generate tax revenues. This causes
frequent conflicts between the local communities (often formalizing as non-governmental
organizations) attempting to preserve recreational green areas and the city authorities as
well as investors striving to develop them [
102
,
103
]. The inhabitants clearly express the
need, in the form of PB, to preserve green areas and enhance their recreational development.
The structure of projects results from individual ideas and represents the needs ex-
pressed by the specific, most active groups of inhabitants or organizations that are able to
advertise voting for a particular project [
37
]. Participation in PB as well as sports and youth
education projects is often promoted through schools and sports clubs. This may influence
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 5171 15 of 21
the high participation rate of families with children in voting. PB plays an educational role
acting as an incentive enhancing social activity.
It is also worth remembering that the projects, even though resulting from the inhab-
itants’ needs, may be modified by the limitations of the PB procedures (financial limits
and the scope of works possible for funding). As a result, PB can meet only some of the
inhabitants’ needs, i.e., those of an exceptionally local nature and a relatively low invest-
ment value. This may discourage some people from joining the PB procedures actively,
especially in the years to follow, because how many small tasks can be carried out in one’s
own small public yard?
A significant weakness of our research is the association of population density with
the wealth level of the inhabitants in data interpretation. We believe, however, that in the
districts of Polish cities the development of relatively rich peripheral districts is now a
frequent phenomenon (because new apartments and single-family houses are relatively
expensive) [
79
]. Additionally, the found correlations are not high, although in social
sciences similar values are used to assess the relationship [
82
]. A great difficulty in research
is the lack of quantitative data on education, wealth and the development of individual
districts (e.g., the share of single-family houses in the total number of households, land
use structure). This type of data would be needed to create a more universal model of
the dependence of the needs of inhabitants expressed through the procedures of PB on
their socio-demographic structures and the development features of the inhabited districts.
In some of our explanations, we relied on qualitative data from city documents, which is
acceptable in scientific research [87] but imperfect compared to quantitative methods.
6. Conclusions
The collected findings only partially confirmed the adopted hypothesis that the expec-
tations of city inhabitants regarding the development of public spaces may be related to
their socio-demographic structures. The conducted research indicates the special impor-
tance of families with children (high activity) and people in post-working age (less active).
The majority of the projects preferred by the inhabitants can be practically generalized into
the two most important types:
Related to safety and comfort in terms of mobility (construction or modernization of
roads, pavements, and separated bicycle paths);
Related to sports, recreational, and leisure activities in public spaces (including the
arrangement of green areas).
The main types of projects are, therefore, related to the issues of the sense of secu-
rity and physical health (fitness and rest in green areas), i.e., to basic human needs [
91
].
Demographic structures are closely connected with the processes of district development.
In the analyzed city, old, central, multi-family districts with poorer populations became
depopulated, leaving a large share of the elderly incumbents—long-term inhabitants at-
tached and used to district development. Greenery projects were chosen more often in
these central districts.
In new peripheral districts, where land is cheaper, the development of single-family
estates is observed. Such districts are frequently inhabited by the relatively richer working-
age people, often with children. Through PB, they try to supplement the underdeveloped
infrastructure around the emerging new housing estates, especially in terms of the expan-
sion of roads and landscape architecture. These are usually areas with a greater share of
greenery (comparing to central districts) and lower car traffic; therefore, their inhabitants
are less likely to choose projects related to bicycle paths and greenery.
In general, the selection of projects is unquestionably determined by both the de-
velopment state of the district and the demographic structure of the population. These
features of districts are often closely interconnected, dynamic, and change slowly within
the framework of urban development processes [80].
The authors are of the opinion that participatory budgeting is a valuable way of
collecting information about local needs in terms of organizing public spaces. PB voting
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 5171 16 of 21
may be of additional importance as a form of public consultations and guidelines for the
city authorities regarding the most urgent needs presented by the inhabitants. The projects
that did not win votes but gained relatively high support could be successfully incorporated
into other major city investment projects.
PB allows for the identification of local needs for the development or modernization
of infrastructure attracting the greatest interest of the local communities. However, be-
cause of the selection of projects that received the highest support, the tasks addressing
the minorities and the so-called disadvantaged groups (e.g., the disabled) need to receive
additional funding as they are less likely to get significant support. The voting method
ensures that the projects supported by the most active social groups are actually imple-
mented. Only some of the projects implemented in cities address the architectural facilities
related to disabled [
55
,
60
]. This social group is not capable of obtaining a high number
of votes. Hence, expert investment planning is necessary, which takes into account the
facilities indispensable for the disabled, whose needs were previously disregarded in the
implementation of public investments in Poland [
104
]. This indicates that PB should not
represent the only form of selecting local investment.
In the future, it would be interesting to carry out research covering the use of infras-
tructure implemented within the framework of PB. Do the most voted on investments
actually have a lot of users? Was the win more the result of both marketing and advertising
efforts of a small group of inhabitants or interest groups that do not represent the needs of
the majority of inhabitants? Do city governments use voting data as a source of information
to prepare strategic development programs? This type of research would also remain the
main component in evaluating the undertaken investment activities and would be helpful
in the sustainable management of municipal resources.
Author Contributions:
Conceptualization, methodology, and supervision: M.F.; software, investi-
gation, and data curation: K.K.; visualization: K.K. and M.F.; writing, review, and editing: K.K.,
M.F. and M.K.-M.; data for the research were collected as part of the K.K.’s Master’s thesis: “Spatial
analysis of projects implemented under Participatory Budgeting in Cz˛estochowa” prepared at the
Institute of Spatial Management, Wroclaw University of Environmental and Life Sciences, Poland.
All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.
Funding: The APC is financed by Wroclaw University of Environmental and Life Sciences.
Institutional Review Board Statement: Not applicable.
Informed Consent Statement: Not applicable.
Data Availability Statement: Archival statistical data available at the Cz˛estochowa City Hall.
Acknowledgments:
We would like to thank: the Cz ˛estochowa City Hall for providing statistical data
on the 2015–2019 Participatory Budgeting and G. Chrobak for the comments on statistics.
Conflicts of Interest:
The authors declare no conflict of interest. The funders had no role in the design
of the study; in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript; or
in the decision to publish the results.
Appendix A
Table A1. Basic data on Cz˛estochowa urban districts used in analysis.
No. District
Name
Population
2019 1
Population
Change
2007–2019 (%) 1
Area
sq. km 1
Population
Density
2019 1
Percentage Share
of Population in Age 2:PB Frequency
2015–2019
(%) 3
Main
Development
Feature 4
0–18 19–64 65+
1 Błeszno 4160 8.0 16.1 259 19.0 65.8 15.2 20.3 scattered
development
2Cz˛estochówka-
Parkitka 9112 7.8 4.6 1967 17.0 71.3 11.7 7.2 multi-family
blocks
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 5171 17 of 21
Table A1. Cont.
No. District
Name
Population
2019 1
Population
Change
2007–2019 (%) 1
Area
sq. km 1
Population
Density
2019 1
Percentage Share
of Population in Age 2:PB Frequency
2015–2019
(%) 3
Main
Development
Feature 4
0–18 19–64 65+
3 D´zbów 5621 0.1 18.9 297 17.4 67.3 15.3 20.4 scattered
development
4Gnaszyn-
Kawodrza 5274 3.4 7.3 726 16.4 67.1 16.5 13.8 scattered
development
5 Grabówka 4419 8.1 6.7 664 17.9 67.7 14.4 7.3 single-family
housing estates
6 Kiedrzyn 3047 7.9 8.4 363 19.1 65.3 15.7 17.5 single-family
housing estates
7 Lisiniec 9693 6.9 11.1 875 17.2 66.4 16.4 9.7 single-family
housing estates
8 Mirów 2301 7.6 12.6 183 19.0 66.1 14.9 20.5 scattered
development
9Ostatni
Grosz 8234 16.0 2.0 4170 15.6 64.6 19.9 12.0 multi-family
blocks
10 Podjasnogórska 3381 9.0 2.5 1360 15.1 65.1 19.9 7.1 old tenement
houses
11 Północ 27,528 8.9 6.7 4131 15.5 72.4 12.1 12.9 multi-family
blocks
12 Raków 20,747 13.9 2.1 9824 15.7 65.1 19.2 11.0 multi-family
blocks
13 Stare Miasto 10,261 25.3 2.4 4320 17.6 65.9 16.5 8.8 old tenement
houses
14 Stradom 11,794 4.1 11.2 1053 17.0 66.4 16.6 11.5 single-family
housing estates
15 ´
Sródmie´scie 14,250 16.6 1.6 8818 12.9 63.4 23.7 9.6 old tenement
houses
16 Trzech
Wieszczów9649 18.4 1.3 7249 15.5 64.1 20.4 7.8 multi-family
blocks
17 Tysi ˛aclecie 27,081 13.3 4.3 6308 12.5 56.8 30.7 7.0 multi-family
blocks
18 Wrzosowiak 23,908 19.8 2.8 8551 15.6 70.0 14.4 8.3 multi-family
blocks
19 Wyczerpy-
Aniołów8896 2.2 16.8 530 18.8 68.1 13.1 16.9 scattered
development
20 Zawodzie-
D ˛abie 8673 5.8 20.3 428 15.6 69.5 14.9 15.2 mixed and
industrial areas
Total 218,029 9.2 159.5 1377 15.7 66.3 18.0 11.9
1
Our own calculation based on data from Cz˛estochowa City Hall. Population density—population per square
kilometer;
2
based on [
86
];
3
the statistical mean of the PB frequency (the number of voters in relation to the district
population, in percentage); and 4the typology of the city districts based on [72].
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