Urban regeneration is driven by many different engines. These engines, however, in some circumstances may appear to turn to either a success or failure factor. In this context, it is appropriate to analyse how factors that serve the regeneration process are affected by embedding research in a particular paradigm set by the theories of so called “regional development”. The choice of these concepts analysed in the article was the result of literature review. The article consists of four parts. The first part defines the development factors and shows how the concentration of negative phenomena in degraded areas may inhibit their optimal use in the context of the city as a whole. Two subsequent chapters analyse how major theories of regional development picture external and internal factors that influence the development of a specific territory. Then, in the summary the author discusses, how main urban and regional development theories reflect the rationale for mitigating barriers in using local development factors as real driving forces of urban regeneration.
The subject of the study are strategies for the development of 9 cities, which are among the strongest centres outside the current capitals of regions (in Polish: voivodeships) in the least-developed Polish regions. These cities can give the chance to activate their surroundings. Good strategies that increase the competitiveness of cities and stimulate development can contribute to this. The aim of the research was to fi nd answers to the questions whether and to what extent the studied strategies: (1) are in line with the definition and methodology of strategic planning; (2) recognize and use specific combinations of developmental factors; (3) can contribute to the development of their surroundings. The research method involved the analysis of the strategic plans in the light of the above questions. The strategies studied are not fully in line with the strategy defi nition. They contain errors and methodological flaws commonly encountered in other strategies. They use the specificity of developmental factors, but without conscious, methodical recognition of their combinations and without exposing them. The author signals methodical problems specific to the strategic planning in territorial units and makes suggestions for planning practice.