Cliff Hague

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Urban transport and mobility challenges

lagos250The 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.

A World View timeline of planning over the past century – Part 1

With the RTPI centenary coming up next year I have been helping them construct a timeline to tell the story of planning 1914-2014. Inevitably the focus is on the Institute itself and events in the UK. However, it set me wondering what a “World View” of planning over that 100 years might look like?

If you had to nominate just one event for each decade, what would it be? Here is my list. Do you agree with it? To keep the blog to a readable length I have confined this one to the period 1914-1963. In a couple of weeks I will do 1964-2013. In the meantime, I would welcome comments, counter-propositions and nominations for the period from the 1960s to the present.

Protests and environmental activism in Europe challenge planners’ roles

Demonstration against

Demonstration against “speculation” in San Lorenzo district, Rome.

Just a few months ago there were major demonstrations in Istanbul triggered by protests against plans to build a shopping mall and housing on Taksim Gezi Park. In Rome this week I stumbled into another demonstration. A couple of hundred people had gathered late on Saturday afternoon outside a rather non-descript industrial building, a former foundry, not far from Porta Maggiore, the greatest entrance gate to ancient Rome. There were banners opposing speculators and “defending” San Lorenzo, the rather rundown neighbourhood squeezed between the railway, La Sapienza University and an elevated urban motorway. A hundred meters away the carabinieri were lined up with their riot shields.

Cities of Tomorrow – towers or tents?

Youth camp participants discussing Cities of Tomorrow

Youth camp participants discussing Cities of Tomorrow

Young people from Germany, Norway, Latvia, Poland, Russia and Scotland attended last week’s international youth summer school in Benmore, Scotland. The event was put on by Planning Aid for Scotland and by Innovation Circle. The theme was “Cities of Tomorrow”.

Building collapses in Mumbai show need for new urban planning

mumbaiMumbai has been a powerful driver of economic growth in India over the past couple of decades. It is a mega-city with an estimated population of over 20 million. Much of the growth has taken place despite rather than because of planning. A spate of building collapses in recent weeks has prompted new debates about how to regulate development in this boom town. Provision of affordable housing has not kept pace with housing need, resulting in illegal housing development on a massive scale. However, it is not only houses that are falling down. People are risking their lives in poorly constructed workplaces as they try to earn a living.

ESPON in Ireland – the economic crisis and territorial development

Michael Parkinson and Loris Servillo during the ESPON seminar

Michael Parkinson and Loris Servillo during the ESPON seminar

Walking the streets of Dublin, you are never far from the brash excesses of the Celtic Tiger era – or from the havoc that the banking crisis has brought. Just as remarkable is the spirit that seems to have sustained the city, and not least the planners in their attempts to build a recovery. Where better to be for the ESPON seminar on jobs and growth?

Spatial planing in Europe – the last 100 years

The European Council of Spatial Planners has just published a book to mark “A Centenary of Spatial Planning in Europe”. It is a compendium in which the Introduction is followed by 32 chapters that range far and wide in their concerns and approach. What does the book tell us about where planning in Europe has come from and where it is heading to?

Challenges for urban and regional development – Riga and Latvia’s National Development Plan

Riga's historic centre is a World Heritage site

My previous visits to Riga were in the winter. Fading light on gloomy afternoons, sleet and snow chilling the soul, forcing me to seek the refuge of a warm bar or café. Now I am here in vibrant springtime, with a crescent moon in a crimson night sky after a day of warm sun. Suddenly, light green leaves have burst the grip of the long, bare winter. There is a promise of better days ahead: this great European city looks to the future with new confidence.

New opportunities for maritime spatial planning and Blue Growth

Stornoway, Western Isles: new EU concern for Blue Growth could open opportuntiies for coastal communities.

The concept of maritime spatial planning has been given a significant boost by a couple of recent actions in the European Union. As Maria Damanaki, EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, has commented, “Governments are waking up to the fact that we have just about reached the limit of what can be squeezed from the 29% of the planet that is land. Therefore, it becomes clear that we need to look even more to the sea.” Now the EU is proposing a Directive that would require Member States to develop coastal management strategies that coordinate planning for activities in coastal zones across the different policy areas. This comes just as a pioneering report on Europe’s seas has been published.

Climate change and its impacts on a small island state: Tuvalu

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.