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Fact file : urban planning
date of the Finger Plan  1947
length of city railways  600km
number of rail stations  200
rail passengers per day  300,000
public transport journeys per day  700,000
first Copenhagen pedestrian zone  Strøget
date opened  17th November 1962
car ownership (2005)  208/1,000 people
More Danish infrastructure facts:
Official website of Denmark
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Urban planning timeline
During World War II, Copenhagen's planners started to think about the development of the city. They looked to Britain, with its new Garden Cities located away from existing conurbations and surrounded by 'green belt'. The plan they came up with in 1947 is known as The Finger Plan.
Copenhagen has long been committed to a compact, sustainable regional urban form. Under the Finger Plan, its future the growth was set along five designated 'fingers' following train and major road routes, with open space between. Residential nodes are located around local stations, like mini Garden Cities.
Residents now have large amounts of green space within a short walk or cycle ride, and good access to public transport. However, although car use has been discouraged in Denmark, population growth and pressure to accommodate cars has brought ring motorways to the outskirts, putting pressure on the plan. Urban expansion has brought the fingers within touching distance of nearby towns.
Key to Copenhagen's ongoing urban planning is its transport network. There are three rail networks — long distance trains, the S-Train suburban network and the new Metro — and a comprehensive bus system. Integrated with these are the cycle network and the city-centre pedestrianisation programme. Nearly 40% of journeys to work are made by bicycle.
The Finger Plan is still the major guildeline for the city's development. More recent master plans have looked at minimising traffic and nuisance, culminating in the 1993 Municipal Plan, the main focus of which is a compact urban structure based on public transport.
A map of the original Finger Plan, as well as the updated 2007 version, are available at www.denmark.dk.
1929 Copenhagen appoints a Regional Council
1936 Green Areas of Copenhagen Plan
1947 The Finger Plan for Greater Copenhagen, which was given legal status (urban zone legislation) in 1949
1962 The Big H — the national plan for the development of motorway and rail infrastructure (largely implemented by 1994)
1979 Heat Supply Act passed, creating incentives for district heating
1984 Metropolitan Copenhagen Heating Transmission scheme created
1985 Amendment of the Act on Environmental Protection, which changed the emphasis of the urban waste regulatory system from disposal to recycling/regeneration/treatment
1988 Denmark's first geothermal heating plant goes on line at Thisted
1990 Dissolution of the Greater Copenhagen Council, its responsibilities pass to the Municipality of Copenhagen, and Vesterbro Urban Renewal Centre established aimed at the ecological renewal of Vesterbro district
1992 The Danish and Swedish governments decide to build a fixed link across Øresund to join the two countries
1993 Municipal Plan of the City of Copenhagen
1995 Beginning of free bike loan scheme, for use within a designated zone
Sewage discharges into Copenhagen Harbour are reduced from 93 to 38, improving water quality and allowing safe swimming — overflow water is stored in reservoirs until there is capacity in sewage system
1996 Comet consortium starts the design and construction of the Copenhagen Metro, renovation of Rådhuspladsen (City Hall Square) begins
1997 Local Agenda 21 implemented (see box at right)
1997 The first Traffic & Transport Plan, including the opening of the first of the city’s green bicycle routes
1998 The 6.790km Great Belt East Bridge opens (final missing link between the Danish islands) as part of the 8km fixed link Storebaelt bridge and tunnel crossing between Zealand and Funen, crowning a century's efforts to connect the Danish islands with the European continent
1998 The first Sustainable Urban Renewal & Construction guidelines are issued
2000 The Øresundsbroen (Oresund Bridge) opens to traffic in July
2000 Copenhagen's offshore Middelgrunden wind farm completed
2002 The first phase of the Copenhagen Metro opens
2003 Copenhagen Park Policy, second phase of the Copenhagen Metro opens
2006 Sustainability in Construction & Civil Works guidelines
2007 The updated Finger Plan is still the basis of the development of Greater Copenhagen
2007 Third phase of the Copenhagen Metro opens in September
2007 The City of Copenhagen's Eco-Metropole vision for Copenhagen unveiled in November
2009 Copenhagen's electric bus scheme begins
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Local government
Since 1st January 1998 the Municipality
of Copenhagen
has been governed by seven committees — the finance committee and six standing committees, each headed by a mayor (see The seven mayors of Copenhagen).
The work done by the committees is governed by guidelines set by Copenhagen City Council, the city's supreme political body, which consists of 55 members each elected for four years. The council has the right to decide overall policy, while the municipality makes regional decisions.
see Københavns Kommune  www.kk.dk
The Finger Plan
for Greater Copenhagen
Presented in 1947 and codified under urban zone legislation in 1949, The Finger Plan set out development guidelines for the city based on five 'fingers' of transport infrastructure leading to new urban zones.
The plan located shops and services clustered around local railway stations, with denser residential building close by, low density housing further out and open space between the fingers. Industry was sited close to the central 'palm'.
The Finger Plan is still the major planning guideline for Copenhagen, although it hasn't always been followed completely. Motorways now ring the city in part as a result of exposive growth and the decentralization of city-centre functions and businesses.
see The Finger Plan  www.denmark.dk
image source : www.denmark.dk
Agenda 21
Agenda 21 is a United Nations blueprint for international, national and local sustainable development, covering economic, social and environmental issues. It was launched at the 1992 UN conference of the same name held in Rio de Janeiro, and it has been signed by 181 nations.
Denmark places particular emphasis on the environmental aspects, and has chosen, along with various other countries, to advise its local authorities to implement the programme locally. This application is often referred to as Local Agenda 21.
see United Nations  www.un.org