News items

In 2009-13 on average 856 persons were displaced from their homes each year in the occupied West Bank of Palestine, and 499 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished in each year by the Israeli authorities. Now research funded by the UK's Department for International Development has put a price on the economic damage this does.

The authorities in Rome this week demolished the Ponte Mammolo informal settlement where some people have lived permanently for well over a decade. Claims that residents were given advanced notice of the arrival of the bulldozsrs are disputed. The migrations from North Africa into Italy have seen some 200 new and transient people living on a parking lot for tourist buses in front of the main settlement, as they make their way north in search of jobs.

Ghana's urban population has grown from 4 million to 14 million in 30 years. This has underpinned economic growth, which has on average increased by 5.7% a year since 1984. Can this continue, or is the urban future bleak?

Look at your town centre as a network of gardens, a promenade, a stage and be prepared to be outrageous. This was the advice given by Julian Dobson to meeting of the Scottish Towns Partnership in Edinburgh. He stressed the need to challenge the existing narratives about town centres which are too often about decline and narrowly focussed on retailing.

The brutal murder of Emmanuel Sithole in the Johannesburg township of Alexandra is a frightening sign of the potential for ethnic divisions to destroy social cohesion and economic growth. It undermines the moral leadership that South Africa has been able to exercise since the end of apartheid. It is part of a pattern of Afrophobia and hatred directed at migrants from other parts of Africa.

A chilling article connects the violence on the township streets to attitudes in corporate boardrooms and failures of political leadership. With Africa such a key market for South African companies, the reaction of consumers across the continent is likely to result in economic damage. As always in cities, everything affects everythng else and actions have impacts far beyond administrative boundaries.



Informal development is now penetrating the formerly exclusive suburbs of Harare, Zimbabwe's main city. lLike many colonial cities the early planning of Harare sought to segregate areas by class and ethnicity. However, urbanisation and poverty are now resulting in green spaces in low density suburbs becoming the focus for informal housing that brings the poor to the doorsteps of the rich.

Keys to making urban growth boundaries work as a planning tool for controlling sprawl in US cities were identified in a session in the recent American Planning Association conference. Examples of urban growth boundaries were presented from Portland, Oregon; King County, Washington; and Denver.

UN-Habitat has launched a new open-access portal for urban data. Urban Data allows users to explore data from a number of cities and regions around the world and compare indicators such as slum prevalence and city prosperity. you can try it out for yourself here.

As e-shopping eats into the markets previously dominated by traditional shops and stores, what will the retail store of the future look like? Are the malls and the arcades a relic of the last century? What does it mean for our towns and cities?

Public markets add greatly to the vitality of cities and provide essential goods and jobs for many people. They are an integreal part of our urban cultural heritage across all the continents. Yet a number of these markets are now at risk warns a new study.

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