World View Blog
This blog was first posted on the Planning Resource website on 4 April 2011.
Frustrations with urban conditions were a fundamental factor behind the popular uprisings in Egypt, according to Doug Saunders, author of a new book Arrival City: The Final Migration and Our Next World. The book looks at neighbourhoods that are transitional between rural and urban. Across Africa and Latin America rural dwellers are moving to temporary locations for temporary or seasonal work. They form their own neighbourhoods on the outskirts of ‘urban’ areas, the first rung on the urban ladder. Once they get established, they want to move on, but find themselves blocked by housing policy and planning regulation. That’s when social unrest and political crises can be expected.
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 Its focus is strongly tilted towards rural areas, and support for UN-Habitat is to be withdrawn.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.
While in Philadelphia recently for the annual conference of the American Collegiate Schools of Planning I was able to make a trip to Atlantic City, New Jersey, a place famous for its use of casinos as a driver for urban regeneration. As well as walking the famous boardwalk on a rather drab end of October afternoon, I was fortunate enough to be able to talk directly with key planners and people in the casino industry and so gain insights into what is happening. The story has some important messages for planners and policy-makers involved in regeneration work.
Last week I was in Pakistan, speaking at an international conference on Town Planning and Urban Management. It was an opportunity to revisit Lahore for the first time in 20 years and to experience the grandeur and vibrancy of this great city, which encapsulates the opportunities and challenges of rapid urbanisation in this part of Asia.
Pakistan’s urbanisation level is still only around 37%, so this remains a rural country. However it is the highest in south-west Asia, and the rate of urbanisation is around 3%. When I was last here in 1994, the population of Pakistan was 126M. Today it is approaching 200M and the urban population has grown from under 40M to 70M. By 2050 another 90M urban dwellers are anticipated.
These trajectories formed the backdrop to the conference. Despite the surge in urban growth, planning has little impact. Around half the people already live in slums. There is no comprehensive planning law. Plans ‘expire’ and are not updated.
The ‘urban’ goal remains in the list that the UN general assembly is considering this week. As long as it gets through, then adoption next year should be a formality, unless some country really wants to make an issue about it. As not much information is available about this, and it is an issue that is very relevant for planners and other built environment professionals, I am posting here the current list of 17 proposed goals and also the targets being developed for Goal 11, the ‘urban’ goal. Many thaks to Christine Platt and the Commonwealth Association of Planners for this update and all their hard work to get the goal this far.
The last week here in UK has been dominated by the referendum on Scottish independence. Although the “No” side won by a clear margin (55/45%) the issues behind the referendum have not disappeared, and now there is a political discussion at Westminster about devolution across the UK. Meanwhile, last Wednesday I was speaking in Colwyn Bay at an ESPON on the Road event that focused on small towns in Wales. In my presentation I drew on EU data that shows why the UK now faces a crisis of territorial cohesion.
Today I have been to Nablus and followed the River Jordan down to Jericho. I have spoken to a conference, eaten falafel in the bazaar, talked with the most remarkable mayor I have ever met, and come to better understand the significance
I am writing this blog from East Jerusalem. I have been invited over here by theUN-Habitat team based in Ramallah on the Israeli Occupied West Bank of the Jordan. The purpose of the visit is to learn about how planning is practised here, and what might be down to make it a more equitable, fair and transparent process. The visit is linked to a DFID-funded project that is trying to remove the logjam which is preventing Palestinian villagers from developing.
The planning situation in the West Bank is both very complicated but also very simple, so let’s do the simple bit first. The Israelis are building lots of new settlements here while stalling on approval of plans submitted for development in Palestinian villages, and demolishing the unauthorised development that then does take place.
My summer holiday reading has been “Buildings of Empire” by Ashley Jackson. As the title suggests, this is a grand tour around landmark examples of the built environment legacy of the British Empire. Twelve fluently written chapters take us from Dublin Castle to the iconic Raffles Hotel in Singapore, before returning the reader to the Empire Stadium at Wembley.
Professor Ashley Jackson is part of the Defence Studies Department at King’s College London. He combines expertise in imperial history with a taste for architectural detail. The result is an enriching, probing and at times amusing account. The constructions of a colonial power tend to be highly symbolic, expressing values such as power, majesty, but also knowledge and justice. Others read the buildings as exemplars of repression. As Jackson shows these totems to the empire on which the sun never set remain significant urban elements today.