Tuvalu from the air (photo courtesy of Dr.Julia Edwards)

This blog provides a front line report from Tuvalu, a small island state in the Pacific. Tuvalu is going through urbanization on a scale it has never experienced before, and is also struggling to adapt to the impacts of climate change. This remote and tiny place, so far removed from the global cities which are shaping its future, provides a laboratory specimen of the fate of a small island state in today’s world.

Published in World View Blog

This blog was first posted on the Planning Resource website on 17 July 2012.


The next generation is going to witness a staggering amount of new urban development as the world’s economic centre of gravity shifts towards Asia. Cities in both developed and rapidly urbanising countries need professional planning if they are to prosper. Companies serving consumer markets should grasp the significance of the growing urban middle class and its diversity. Urban analysis is increasingly necessary for business success. These are the main messages from a dramatic new report from the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI).

Published in World View Blog
Thursday, 14 May 2015 06:15

Reviving town centres

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.

Published in News items
Wednesday, 29 April 2015 13:14

Comparing Scotland's towns

This morning I attended the launch of a new open-access web tool that lets you analyse and compare towns in Scotland. It is easy to use and has great potential. Understanding Scottish Places (USP) is designed for use by both professionals and citizens. it covers the 479 places in Scotland with populations of 1000 or more, and has data on demography, education and health, employment and retail provision. It also provides measures of how far a town is self-sufficient, inter-dependent with other towns for jobs and services, or dependent on accessing such things from elsewhere.

Published in Small Towns Reports

This blog was first posted on the Planning Resource website on 18 June 2012.

What kind of strategies can help regions to strengthen their performance in knowledge and innovation? This was the theme of the ESPON Open Seminar that I took part in last week in Aalborg. What emerged was a strong consensus on the importance of getting stakeholders to feel a sense of ownership of a flexible regional strategy, which in turn was part and parcel of building trust. This region of North Denmark shows how strategic spatial planning has been used to create jobs and growth.

Published in World View Blog

This blog was first posted on the Planning Resource website on 7 May 2012.

The UN-Habitat World Urban Forum will meet in Naples in the first week in September. It is the pre-eminent meeting place for the global community of those who are actively engaged in trying to create more sustainable and equitable human settlements. It brings together mayors and grass roots activists, professionals and politicians, slum dwellers and developers, the global North and the global South. This week saw the launch of a series of on-line dialogues that will lead into the main WUF. You may not be able to get to Naples, but you can have your say on the ways you think urban planning should be used to tackle the challenges of the towns and cities.

Published in World View Blog

This blog was first posted on the Planning Resource website on 26 March 2012.

If planning is to become a means of supporting growth and economic recovery, then planners, economic development specialists and others working with Cohesion Funds will need a better understanding of the local business environment and accessibility. A new ESPON report includes a description of indicators that are used in Sweden to monitor these concerns, and inform local policy and practice.

Published in World View Blog

This blog was first posted on the Planning Resource website on 7 February 2012.

Richard Florida’s writings on the creative class have underpinned much of the urban regeneration work in Europe, Australia and North America over the past decade. The creative sector is also getting increasing attention in India, Brazil and China. A new publication from ESPON shows regional patterns and trends in the creative workforce across Europe. It argues that the ability to attract creative workers is highly linked to the qualities of places, and that the opportunities are not confined to the urban centres.

Published in World View Blog
Thursday, 09 April 2015 16:39

Mr.Tree - A Tale from the new China

This blog was first posted on the Planning Resource website on 28 January 2012.

I went to the cinema last night to watch a new film from China. I recommend “Mr Tree” as a film that gives you a flavour of the great transition that China is going through as people move to the cities. It shows some of the processes of change and their impacts on villages in the countryside. It will prompt planners, environmentalists and those involved in economic development to debate the costs and benefits of an annual growth rate of 8% per annum growth rate, and to ask could similar gains be achieved without some of the less desirable side effects?

Published in World View Blog
Thursday, 09 April 2015 15:07

Ten Messages if you are Planning for Growth

This blog was first posted on the Planning Resource website on 3 October 2011.

In my last couple of Blogs I have covered issues around planning for growth. This one continues that theme by looking at messages in ESPON research that give pointers to territorial actions that would put “Planning for Growth” into practice. Place-based economic development – The theme of “Planning for Growth” dominated the ESPON INTERSTRAT one day conference in London on 30 September. In this blog I summarise the presentation that I made. For simplicity, I picked out ten messages that are embedded in a number of ESPON research projects and that point the way for “Planning for Growth”.

Published in World View Blog
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