AuthorSkrabal, Jaroslav
  1. Introduction

    Spatial planning is considered to be one of the key tools of how to increase the sustainability of cities and contribute to their development on a global scale (UN, 2015). One of the key aspects of sustainable spatial planning is sustainable land use, i.e., a more deliberate approach towards which type of land is used for the development of cities. It is particularly necessary in cities with a growing population to make a decision which areas are most suitable for future development. A promising approach seems to be a re-development of formerly used sites that are vacant now, such as brownfields, for new projects of city development, especially the ones that are situated in central localities (Bartke and Schwarze, 2015).

    In the professional literature, we find many definitions of the term 'brownfield', which differ between individual disciplines and actors. The term 'brownfield' refers to a relatively wide range of landscapes characterized by various features (Loures and Vaz, 2016). The different meanings of the term brownfield depend on the definition by national government or agencies and, in part, on the different groups related to brownfields (Alker et al., 2000). In general, the term brownfield can be understood as 'previously used or built-up land'. According to Alker et al. (2000), brownfields can be considered all spaces that have been used economically in the past that are not currently being fully utilized. They may be abandoned or even contaminated, and therefore are not available for further use without additional intervention. Thomas (2003) states that brownfields are abandoned and unused objects that are perceived mainly due to their contamination and represent social and financial demands for their eventual reuse. Davis and Sherman (2010) note that abandoned buildings and grounds are associated with metropolitan areas that have been heavily industrialized in the past. According to Adeleja et al. (2010) brownfields are generally abandoned or underused old industrial or commercial facilities and can be a significant health hazard to the inhabitants of the communities in which they are located. Another definition indicates that brownfields are predominantly located in developed urban areas and require some intervention in order to be used repeatedly (CABERNET, 2006). The term 'brownfield' refers to a rather wide range of landscapes characterized by different features (Loures and Vaz, 2016).

    Brownfields represent significant social and environmental issues across the world (Thornton et al., 2007), and are recognized by the international association UN and the European Union (EC, 2012). Brownfields are of various origin, are distributed across the entire country, yet they represent a significant issue in densely urbanized areas, such as cities (Burinskiene et al., 2017). Abandoned buildings and sites are an integral part of cities in Central Europe (Tureckova et al., 2017). Brownfields that are in the inner city, near the inner city or near other municipal subcentres are generally well-connected with the current technical and social infrastructures (Koch et al., 2018; Skrabal, 2020). The existence of brownfields in urban space has its historical justification. It is not possible to move them outside the city limits (Kunc et al., 2014). The level of brownfield regeneration reflects the cultural and economic development of the country, region, city or village as it reflects the strategies of sustainable development of sites (Wedding and Crawford-Brown, 2007). Re-using and regenerating derelict and abandoned areas constitutes an important element in sustainable land use policy and planning (Klusacek et al., 2021). Abandoned buildings and sites left without any effort to find some alternative use prevent a further development of built-up sites, unfavorably influence the environment and have a bad impact on the given region in general (Tureckova et al., 2019).

    The development of brownfields involves both private and public costs, due to possible soil contamination. In addition, brownfields create negative externalities related to real estate viability and are considered risky and costly to develop. Regeneration of abandoned buildings and sites is increasingly recognized as a key tool for sustainable land management, as free development land ('greenfields') is a more expensive resource, especially in densely populated areas (Limasset et al., 2018).

    This article focuses on the issue of brownfields in the Czech Republic. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the current situation of brownfields from the perspective of municipalities and cities in the Czech Republic. The introduction is followed by a chapter that pays attention to the data and methodology of the paper using the method of primary research of municipalities and cities in individual regions (NUTS 3 (3rd level of region according to the Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics of the EU)) in the country. The next chapter (Chapter 3) focuses on the results of the regional and national level of the research. The fourth chapter focuses on the discussion. At the end, the conclusion is drafted, which summarizes the previous findings of the authors.

  2. Data and methodology

    The second chapter focuses on the data and methodology of the paper. The aim of this article is to assess the current situation of brownfields from the perspective of municipalities and cities in the Czech Republic. The paper is focused on the topic of brownfields from the perspective of municipalities and towns in the Czech Republic. The authors of the article created a structured questionnaire (electronic questionnaire), which was designed for all municipalities and cities in the country. The results, collected on the basis of the primary research, were then aggregated into higher-level administrative units (NUTS 3). The results of the research in this work are expressed in relative frequency. The distribution of NUTS 3 regions on the territory of the Czech Republic is shown in the figure below (Figure 1).

    Primary research based on the method of questioning was performed. The questionnaire survey was created via Google Forms. A total of 6,252 municipalities, cities and city districts (Prague) were addressed with a total rate of return of 43.5%. The respondents were addressed on the basis of sending a cover letter with a link to the questionnaire. The research commenced on 9 July 2018 and the end of the collection of information from municipalities and cities was on 31 January 2019. The results of the questionnaire survey were subsequently selected according to individual NUTS 3 regions. The table below (Table 1) shows the rate of return of answers for each area. Data on the number of municipalities and cities in the given regions (NUTS 3), which are shown in the table below, were obtained through the Czech Statistical Office, hereinafter referred to as 'CSO'.

    Before sending the electronic questionnaire, the authors of the paper created a cover letter, which contained all the necessary details that are necessary for the respondents to be acquainted with the research. The accompanying letter contained a link under which prospective respondents could find the questionnaire. The accompanying letter was then sent to villages and towns in individual NUTS 3 regions via data boxes ( Since 2009, the data box has been defined in the Czech legal system as an electronic repository, which is intended for the delivery of electronic documents between public authorities on the one hand and natural and legal persons on the other. Data boxes are set up and managed by the Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic and the operator of the data box information system is Ceska posta s. p., which holds a postal license. The information was filled in either by the mayors of the municipality or by authorized city officials who are aware of the situation concerning brownfields in their cadastral territory (e.g. the regional development department).

    The questionnaire survey consisted of two mandatory questions that had to be completed before being sent. Only one of the given questions will be presented in the paper, due to the fact that this question, which is listed below, is taken as one of the main questions of the research. It was a question that was focused on whether the addressed respondents registered abandoned buildings or areas in their cadastral territory. The mentioned data in connection with the given question are shown in Table 2. In connection with the structure of the questionnaire survey, it is important to point out that the respondents had the opportunity to choose more than one answer option. Therefore, the total amount of answers to each question varies. The issues mentioned included the ownership and previous use of brownfields, which are presented in the paper in the comparison at the regional level under Table 4 and Table 5 and in the national comparison in Figure 3 and Figure 4.

  3. Results of primary research

    The chapter deals with the interpretation of results of the survey on both the regional and national level. The questionnaire survey contained 16 questions. The most important questions of the survey are interpreted below.

    The first question (Table 2) examined the existence of abandoned buildings or areas of the so-called brownfields in municipalities and cities in individual regions in the Czech Republic. It was found at the regional level that the most abandoned buildings and areas are in the Liberec Region, the Karlovy Vary Region, the Usti Region and the Moravian-Silesian Region. From this point of view, we can conclude that the predominant occurrence of brownfields is mainly in the regions (NUTS 3) previously marked by heavy industry.

    In the case of results at the national level, the situation is such that 36% of the respondents indicated that they register an abandoned building or complex in their cadastral...

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