Retailing and especially food retailing has always been a fundamental element for the organization of the compact and more liveable city furthering the relations of proximity. From the nineteenth century specially the system of public markets acquired very considerable importance and was considered one of the basic service of metropolis in the urban planning policy.
Despite this, liberal policies, new modes of transportation, delivery and selling, along with suburban growth and the relative commercial “sprawl”, arising first in the cities in northern Europe and in the United States, undermined the development and conservation of this traditional public element, associated intimately with the compact city. In some southern and eastern European cities, markets are still functional landmarks. In Barcelona they have proven their considerable urban potential. In the 1980s, the extensive network of neighbourhood markets were seen as very effective focal points for restructuring a retail sector. Since then, municipal intervention in the reorganization of the city’s markets and their immediate surroundings has formed part of an urban planning vision integrated into the defence of the neighbourhood structure, of close contact and, definitely, of the compact city. Barcelona has a clear policy of limiting oligopolies, and large commercial areas are seen as a threat to the equilibrium that allows for the coexistence of the traditional city and a high population density which helps to support public spending for the construction and administration of public markets, but also to enjoy the derived benefits.
CitacióGuardia, M.; Oyón, J. L.; Fava, N. Retailing and proximity in a liveable city : the case of Barcelona public markets system. A: International Conference on Urban Planning and Regional Development in the Information Society GeoMultimedia. "15th International Conference on Urban Planning and Regional Development in the Information Society GeoMultimedia 2010". Viena: 2010, p. 621-630.
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