Abstract: This article describes two Latvian towns, Cēsis and Bauska, which have medieval origins and noticeable layers of subsequent historic periods. Both of their town centres have historic heritage protection status and a complex mixture of values, needs, and opportunities for the locals and visitors. The towns have recently had some physical improvements implemented in their public spaces, with key differences in the interplay between local governments and stakeholders. The Cēsis case was a municipality-initiated and public-led intervention to build awareness. The Bauska case was mainly a plea from active inhabitants that was only partially realised by the municipality, with limited support. In both cases, the introduced changes tackled some accumulated challenges, such as insufficient walkability, degraded public space, and car-centric town centres, but they also provoked discussions about the quality of the achievements, which raised questions about collaboration culture and practice between stakeholders. This study evaluates the interventions initiated by the municipality and the initiatives by nongovernmental organisations from the point of view of the tools applied and from the point of view of the civil process. This research contributes to discussions about the challenges of different approaches in spatial planning and provides recommendations about possible integrated planning solutions, as well as about the formation of the civil process.
Keywords: historic centres; Latvia; liveability; local governance; participation; spatial planning