A line under a loaded dossier: Bergen residents choose their own design for the village center

This seems to put a definitive end to it decades of bickering about the design of the Harmonie location. “The voice of the residents and entrepreneurs was included in the provisional award of the project through a very nice participation process,” says Roos.

This participation process has been one of the most difficult points in recent years. “The municipality always said that residents could participate in the discussion, but the door was always closed to our ideas,” recalls Mareike Naumann of the More Beautiful Bergen Foundation.

Since 2014, the foundation has been fighting for a more transparent and fairer process for the development of the Harmonie location and was one of the parties that went to court. “As a foundation, we had no preference for either of the two current plans and congratulate Henselmans on the win. But also the municipality. We think it is courageous that they made the choice through a ‘tender’, a public tender.”

Exiting the supermarket was a turning point

“We started as a foundation ten years ago, when there was a plan in which residents were not heard. We could not get a foothold in the municipality. For us, that supermarket had to be removed. When that happened in 2019, that was it turning point. We are proud of what we have achieved.”

“Everyone then compromised and we have always remained involved. And you now see that when you do involve citizens, the process goes faster. You can of course find the design beautiful or ugly, but it is a process has been transparent and you now hear few dissonances.”

The foundation is curious how participation will now take shape. “With the elaboration of the actual plans, for example. That starts now. As a foundation, we remain available for help with this. But we also hope that the municipality will apply this selection procedure to more large projects that involve municipal land. We believe in transparent participation and that that makes better and supported plans.”