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Degraded areas have a lower value due to inappropriate use or abandonment, so they can have a negative impact on the environment. They can be reactivated through renovation and thus contribute to the efficient use of space and making places more attractive for work and living.

Degraded areas have a lower value due to inappropriate use or lack of settlements and can have a negative impact on the environment, society, economy or the visual image of the space. We distinguish several levels and types of degradation, which are measured according to functional, physical, environmental and social criteria and criteria for the protection of cultural heritage.

In cities and urban settlements, they used to be called brownfield urban areas. The Environmental Protection Act defines degraded areas as exclusively environmentally polluted areas. That is why the Spatial Planning Act introduces the term degraded area, which covers several aspects of degradation.

When arranging the space, the renovation and improvement of the existing built spaces have priority over new construction and activities affecting vacant land. Before works are started on open, green areas, abandoned or degraded areas are used as much as possible. Through appropriate measures, such areas are renovated, rehabilitated and their use improved. If degraded areas are unsuitable for settlement, they are returned to nature, i.e. renatured. This process contributes to the efficient use of space in urban areas, greater attractiveness of cities for work and living, the competitiveness of cities and the preservation of green, especially agricultural areas near cities.

Criteria for determining degraded urban areas

The preparation of an expert study Criteria for determining degraded urban areas was made in 2016 by the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Ljubljana, while the authority requesting the study was the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning. Prof. Janez Koželj and colleagues are responsible for this task. The task sets out a more detailed methodology for determining whether urban areas have degraded from the point of view of physical and functional degradation, while from the point of view of social and environmental degradation, based on certain criteria and approval by technical municipal services, it raises suspicion of a degradation. The task builds on the research published in the publication Degraded Urban Areas (Koželj, Janez, 1998).

A degraded urban area (DUA) is an area within urban settlements that is degraded in terms of its condition, characteristics and appearance due to inappropriate or abandoned use. DUA can show different types and degrees of degradation according to physical, functional, environmental and social criteria. The task defines degraded urban areas according to the type and degree of degradation by spatial planning unit, in graphic and textual form, in all 11 urban municipalities.

The results of the task also form the basis for the selection of areas where sustainable urban development projects are co-financed within the framework of the European cohesion policy 2014–2020.