PURR - Potential of Rural Regions

Thematic scope

ESPON has identified demographic and economic change in peripheral rural regions as an issue of European concern. The ESPON “Scenarios” project 3.2 showed that a range of external influences will have an impact on these regions, and that innovative actions would be needed. The innovative approaches towards territorial development of such regions are key issues for achieving territorial cohesion.

The aim of the PURR project is to create and test new ways to explore the territorial potentials of some rural areas and small and medium-sized towns in peripheral parts of Europe around the North Sea, the Irish Sea and the Baltic Sea. These places face problems such as ageing, migration, poor accessibility, restructuring of traditional industries and are further threatened by rising energy costs. However, they also possess some territorial assets related to their natural and cultural heritage and in the sense of identity that many have.

The analysis will use ESPON results to benchmark the stakeholder regions in their European context and will develop and apply methodologies for identifying and realising territorial potentials in these places.

Please read more about the main areas of analysis and main results envisaged on the next page.


  • Notodden Municipality, Norway (Lead Stakeholder)
  • Cesis District Council, Latvia
  • North Yorkshire County Council, United Kingdom
  • Welsh Assembly Government, United Kingdom
  • Dumfries and Galloway Council, United Kingdom

Lead Partner

Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research (NIBR)

Detailed information on the contracted project team can be found under Transnational Project Groups.

Budget : € 209 605,00

Project’s lifetime: February 2010 – July 2012

Delivery of Reports

Inception Report: 30 June 2010
Interim Report: 1st February 2011

Revised Interim Report: 30 May 2011
Draft Final Report: 31 August 2012
Final Report: 5 July 2012


Reports will be published once they are approved by the ESPON Monitoring Committee

More information

Please contact the Project Expert at the ESPON Coordination Unit:

Sara FERRARA, e-mail: [email protected]

Main areas of analysis

  • Benchmarking each stakeholder region in a European context, based on a cross-thematic review of relevant ESPON findings and on the regions’ existing development and assets.
  • Collecting more detailed information from stakeholder regions, including information on territorial assets, governance and policy integration.
  • Developing (one or more) innovative methodologies to assess territorial potential, as well as testing these methodologies by applying them to each stakeholder region.
  • Explaining how these methodologies might be developed and applied in other parts of Europe.
  • Developing a set of policy options for sustainable regional development for each stakeholder region, based on benchmarking and the assessment of territorial potential.

Main results envisaged

  • A method or methodologies for assessing territorial potential.
  • A worked example of the application of the territorial potential methodology for each participating region.
  • A dataset built through the project that combines existing ESPON data for the stakeholder regions with additional data collected from them during the project.
  • A set of policy options for each partner region based on the results of the analysis of territorial potential.
  • A synthesis of results for the project as a whole, including commentary that is informed by discussion with the practitioners. The synthesis shall include each stakeholder region as a case study and recommendations for how work on territorial potential of rural regions might be taken forward.
  • Suggestions on how research and applications of the idea of territorial potential in rural regions can be taken forward after the end of the project.


Final Report

  • Acrobat Document | 5.16MB

Draft Final Report

  • Acrobat Document | 5.14MB

Interim Report

  • Acrobat Document | 4.03MB

Inception Report

  • Acrobat Document | 958KB

Annex Inception Report

  • Acrobat Document | 137KB

Project Specification

  • Acrobat Document | 70KB