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Zurich/Lausanne – The key to the future development of the mountainous half of the country lies in the large main valleys, spatial planning expert Daniel Müller-Jentsch argues in a publication by Avenir Suisse. His study lays out strategies for this.

In the new Avenir Suissestudy “Central valleys – the main valleys as development axes of the mountainous region”, Daniel Müller-Jentsch presents his vision for a strategic plan of action for the remote valleys and mountainous regions of Switzerland. This should be aimed at increasing the appeal of the main valleys as places of residence and economic hubs, thereby support their central functions for the mountainous hinterland region of Switzerland. He starts with the Rhone Valley, the Alpine Rhine Valley, the Gotthard axis and Graubünden.

These central valleys each have the population and economic power of a major city. However, the low population density of lack of an urban core often make these regions weaker hubs, which in turn restricts the willingness of the participating communities to cooperate and often leads to small-scale rivalries.

For this reason, the spatial planning expert Daniel Müller-Jentsch recommends for the mountainous regions not to try to link up with the hubs located in the central plateau. Rather, the aim should be to focus on its own centers, strengthen them in their core functions and develop them further. In addition, the central valleys should seek to underline their special qualities compared with the towns and cities of the central plateau in terms of the location-based competitive environment.

Potential measures cited by the study author include testing axial transport networks and the designation of cross-municipal commercial areas. Moreover, offers for vocational education and training could be networked and urban development competitions for "urban sprawl hotspots" along the valley floors could be held. Annual valley conferences would serve to strengthen the joint approach. Opening up the Swiss government’s agglomeration programs to the special needs of the central valleys would also be helpful.

This whole project is about better developing synergies between the main and side valleys as well as opening up new perspectives for the high-alpine region as a place to live.