This blog was first posted on the Planning Resource website on 23 March 2011.

I am one of Europe’s growing cohort of old age pensioners. In 31 European countries, even if life expectancy does not improve, the population aged 65+ would increase by 40 per cent to 2050. If life expectancy continues to grow, the number of persons aged 65+ will leap by between 87 and 111 per cent. However, with out-migration and low birth rates, many of Europe’s regions face the prospect of a population that is both ageing and reducing in numbers. Unless things change, 60% of European regions will experience population decline up to 2050. Demography is a key factor in the development and planning of cities and region: what are Europe’s prospects and what are the implications?

This blog was first posted on the Planning Resource website on 15 March 2011.

By 2030, one in every two urban residents in the world will be in Asia. Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh, brings this dramatic urban transition into focus. Faced with a constant battle against water, inadequate infrastructure and sanitation, endemic traffic congestion and electricity shortages how are the planners faring?

This blog was first posted on the Planning Resource website on 7 March 2011.

Cities are invisible in the UK Department for International Development (DFID) review of UK aid. Yet only a year ago DFID were calling cities “The New Frontier” in a high profile document that proclaimed “Cities are the future of the twenty first century”. In contrast, the aid review does not discuss cities at all. Its focus is strongly tilted towards rural areas, and support for UN-Habitat is to be withdrawn. All “urban” voices within DFID appear to have been silenced.

This blog was first published on the Planning Resource website on 25 February 2011.

 

Aleppo has made it to the UNESCO World Heritage List. A historic crossroads location on trade routes that criss-crossed the Middle East and connected it to Asia and Europe generated the wealth to invest in the built environment. The result is some grand set-pieces, perhaps most noticeably the 12th century Great Mosque and the monumental 13th century Citadel. However, much of the character of the city comes from the intricate network of streets and suqs within the walled city.

This blog was first posted on the Planning Resource website on 21 February 2011.

It was great to see the Commonwealth Association of Planners given the President’s Special Award at the RTPI Awards ceremony in London recently. Retiring RTPI President Ann Skippers emphasised the work CAP does in supporting planners across the Commonwealth. She invited the audience to imagine that they were the only planner working in their office, and then reminded them that in some small Commonwealth states there may only be one planner in the whole country.

This blog by Cliff Hague was first posted on Planning Resource on 28 October 2013.

The scale of the challenges that planners face from urban transport is made clear in the new UN-Habitat Global Report on Human Settlements. As ever more trips are made it becomes harder and harder to move around cities, even when money is invested in transport infrastructure. Across the globe, but especially in the rapidly urbanising mega cities of the global south, cities are facing a crisis of accessibility. Quite simply, unsustainable forms of urban transport are no longer working.

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Young Eyes is a new IC project. It looks to me like it will be a good one. I was at the kick-off meeting in a cold and misty Warsaw in January. All the partners were there – Jelgava and Rauna from Latvia, our Polish friends from Suwalki, and from the far north came the delegation from Robertsfors in Sweden. In addition there was PAS from Edinburgh, bringing a lot of experience in youth involvement in built environment issues.

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Across Europe the centres of small and medium sized towns are facing serious challenges. Retailing was the key function that drew people to these places. But we shop differently nowadays. A generation ago the big retailers began to move their businesses out of town centres and to edge of city retail parks.

 
 
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A new OECD report, Regions and Cities: Where policies and people meet, makes the point that regional disparities in income are widening. It calls for a place-sensitive approach to policy making, in other words it recognises that policies need to be tuned to specific characteristics of places, rather than being uniform. 

 
 
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The eyes of the world are on Scotland this week. The referendum on Scottish independence looks like it will produce a close result. It’s been a long campaign, which the rest of the United Kingdom has largely ignored until the last couple of weeks when suddenly the gap between “yes” and “no” in the opinion polls has narrowed. 

 
 
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It’s been a busy summer. In particular I have been involved in work on “measuring success” for Scotland’s Historic Environment Strategy. As Chair of the Built Environment Forum Scotland I am chairing a “workstream” on this topic, with a brief to report to the Scottish Government and to the historic environment sector by the end of August.

 
 
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In the next few weeks some important decisions will be taken. The UN is coming to the end of a process that will result in the General  Assembly adopting a set of Sustainable Development Goals for the period 2015-2030.  These were focus on eradication of poverty and are sure to commit the governments of the world to action on topics such as health, water and education – rightly so. 

 
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In the early 1990s Yugoslavia began to disintegrate, triggering a series of vicious wars as ethnic groups contested territories. I have been doing some work looking at current development in the countries of the Western Balkans. Although conditions have certainly improved over the past decade, and the World Bank now rates them as “upper middle income countries”, it is clear that long-lasting economic and environmental damage has occurred. 

 
 
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For over 30 years EU programmes have supported students so that they can spend some time studying at a university in a different member state. Now a new ERASMUS+ programme opens such mobility opportunities to many others. The kind of youth camps that IC has delivered over several years would seem to be eligible for support. The programme includes Norway.

 
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The nature of museums has been changing dramatically. Until the 1970s they were pretty much a place run by experts for experts. They housed collections of artefacts that needed to be preserved – hands off! Cliff Hague

 
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Recently Professor Cliff Hague from Scotland went to a meeting of a project looking at small and medium-sized towns across Europe,where he spoke in a small town about branding the town. For ICN he reviews his visit and shares his thoughts with us.