Original blogs on CliffHague.com

The national professional body representing planners across Canada, the Canadian Institute of Planners, is facing an existential crisis. Its future is on a knife edge.

In smaller towns across the UK and many other countries, the town centres are struggling. Julian Dobson, has a barrowful of ideas of what to do about it. His book How to Save Our Town Centres is the best starting point I know for those who want to combine analysis with action. It is well researched, well-informed and refreshingly creative. It deserves an international audience. Much of the analysis is UK-focused, but there are plenty of non-UK examples of innovative responses to the problems of town centres.

Zlin is an outstanding example of a town inspired by 20th century functionalist architecture. This classic company town was a product of the Bata shoe company, its "home town" that the company then mimicked across the continents. It survived Communism, and now a finely balanced conflict is taking place between conservation and  consumer capitalism.

The spatial impacts of the bailout deals forced on Greece have yet to be fully assessed. However, the early indications are that they will have negative impacts on small and medium sized enterprises which are so important in small towns and rural regions, and also on local food networks.

Seek the truth, speak the truth, defend the truth, live in truth. In my presentation to the closing session of the Association of European Schools of Planning annual congress, I drew on traditional Czech ideals to shape some messages for planners and planning educators. This blog provides an extended version of what I said.

Amidst all the media coverage of the Greek debt crisis, little attention has been paid to the contribution that local and regional economic development can make to building competitiveness. Of course, the macro-economic policies pursued throughout the long crisis have been formidible barriers to growth. However, the counter-narrative from the enforcers of austerity is that the Greeks have only themselves to blame, even to the point where they need to be punished for electing the "wrong" government and delivering the "wrong" referendum result. Similarly, no media correspondents seem to have strayed far from Athens. Therefore this blog looks at a case study of one peripheral Greek region and traces its efforts to deliver innovation-led growth.

As European leaders vent their anger at the Greeks and threaten (once again) to perform the next act in a protracted tragedy, what became of territorial cohesion? This may sound an esoteric question, but it goes to the heart of the future of the EU.

The use of planning and built environment design to boost public health is attracting growing attention. Therefore the publication of a major, international research-based compendium is much to be welcomed. Water, crime, obesity, transport and food are amongst the many topics covered. Kevin McCloud, British designer and TV presenter has said “I’d like to see every politician, planner and developer given a copy.”

Planning is being used in the Israeli-occupied West Bank of Palestine to deny Palestinian communites fair opportunities for development. The practices undertaken in the name of "good planning" actually amount to a denial of administrative justice. These are important findings from an International Advisory Board of experienced planners that it was my privilege to chair. 

Spending a couple of days in Tel Aviv has enabled me to walk through the part of the town that was designed by Sir Patrick Geddes in the 1920s. The legacy of that plan is still evident today in what has become Israel's main gateway city.  Can some of Tel Aviv's dynamism be traced back to Geddes vision? What are the lessons for today's planners?

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