Journals

Town Planning Review 90.1 Featured Article

The editors of Town Planning Review have selected “Why not Italian? Differences matter! A comment on Ben Davy’s Viewpoint in TPR on ‘Thoughts on internationalism and planning’” by Klaus R. Kunzmann as the Featured Article for 90.1.

The paper will be free to access for a limited time here.

When asked to describe the paper, and highlight its importance the author stated the following:

In his very personal essay Ben Davy, the acting president of AESOP, the Association of European Planning Schools, argues that open physical, mental and cultural borders should certainly be on the agenda of the planning community. His viewpoints on internationalisation and planning, however, remain opaque. What is internationalism in planning? Writing in English, or Globish respectively in “Audacity English” as Ben Davy calls it, certainly is not, though it may help to communicate with planners in other countries when travelling around to see other places and learn from other experiences. He is absolutely right, when he writes “internationalisation never must be an excuse for cultural appropriation, intellectual colonialism”.

In times of globalisation internationalism is a virtue of enlightened citizens (including planners) who are open and curious to learn from other cultures, from people who believe in other gods, and who have still memories of their lands of origin they had left permanently or temporally for whatever reason. Most internationally minded planners outside the Anglo-American world of planning are more international than those within the Anglo-American world, who, as a rule, pick-up developments outside only, once they are written in English.

Though one should not forget that planners, who are doing the hard work of practical planning work in their home countries, who are daily communicating with citizens, developers, politicians and powerful local stakeholders of urban development, do it in their local language. And these are 99% of the planning community. They can be internationally minded, but their assignment is to address local challenges to find solutions for local problems to ultimately to contribute to improving quality of life in the place, for which they are responsible.

In times of globalization the gap between theory and practice in planning is widening. Language that bridges academia, divides planning theory from planning practice. Planners who are bridge-builders between theory and practice are a scarce species. and those who are addressing both international and local planning communities in two languages are even more so.

While internationally recognized planning theory tends to distance itself from local practice, local practitioners are being cocooned in legislative and administrative rationales, often dominated by local party politics. Here a more international view on planning can certainly help. Young academic planners, locked in the treadmill of career promotion may not bother, whether their thoughts on planning are read by local and regional planning professionals. Their ambition is rather to earn international credits to further advance their academic careers.

Planners have to be educated to cope with the obvious gap between international theory and local practice. Basing planning education on theoretical global curricula, as it has been frequently suggested by prominent writers may make sense for post-post-doc degrees , though this is valid only for a small minority of planners. When preparing the other 99 percent planners in a country or region, it may raise the individual awareness but not really qualify for doing the job, neither in India, Italy or Afghanistan.

More bridge-builders are needed to bridge the gap between global and local as well as the gap between theory and practice in planning.. Regrettably the number of such bridge-builders is too small. English will certainly remain the only way of easy communication in business and financial worlds, and in the world of sciences, as Latin has been more than 500 years ago. In the not too distant future daily improving digital translation, however, may become a threat to English as a lingua franca. Internationalism in planning is learning from difference.

Francois Julien, the French philosopher, has reminded us that the future world is a world of in-between languages, of translations not of Globish, the globalized English.

 

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Journals

Town Planning Review 89.5 Featured Article

The editors of Town Planning Review have selected ‘Mass Transit Railway, transit-oriented development and spatial justice: the competition for prime residential locations in Hong Kong since the 1980s‘ by Sylvia Y. He, Sui Tao, Yuting Hou and Wenhua Jiang as the Featured Article for the latest issue.

It will be free to access for a limited time here.

When asked to describe the paper, and highlight its importance, Sylvia Y. He, Sui Tao, Yuting Hou and Wenhua Jiang stated the following:

Mass Transit Railway, transit-oriented development and spatial justice: the competition for prime residential locations in Hong Kong since the 1980s

In our paper, we examine the issues of spatial justice and right to the city in a particular urban development model in Hong Kong, a city known for it public transport system – particularly the Mass Transit Railway (MTR).

During a visit to the City Gallery in Hong Kong, an officer in the Planning Department of Hong Kong proudly stated that a reasonable amount of land near the MTR has always been reserved for public housing estate development, which will likely to benefit the low-income groups. On the other hand, some local residents have been complaining that the prime land around MTR stations has become less and less affordable as they are increasingly developed by private developers. These two conflicting views from different stakeholders prompted us to wonder whether transit-oriented development (TOD) is as euphoric as it may sound. Hence we are intrigued to investigate three related questions in this essay:
– Are Hong Kong’s public housing estates located in less desirable locations in relation to the MTR network?
– What is the impact of MTR network on accessibility over time?
– Whether the locations of private and public housing estates have changed as a result of MTR network expansion?

The situation of housing market in Hong Kong offers an ideal laboratory to examine the residential location choice of two distinctive income groups. Like in many other cities, the public housing estates are mainly reserved for the low income groups. In contrast to many cities, about 47% of the population live in public housing in Hong Kong compared to 51% in private housing, making these two types of housing estates a representative analysis unit to trace the residential location of the low-income group and the non-low-income group.

Based on the findings, our study sheds some light on the current urban development practice in Hong Kong: the low-income group is facing the challenge of being priced out from the locations with easier access to public transport. This study can potentially serve as a reference for other cities that are or aim to become TOD cities.

Journals

Town Planning Review 89.4 Featured Article

The editors of TPR have selected ‘Congested cities vs. sprawl makes you fat: unpacking the health effects of planning density’ by Ann Forsyth as the Featured Article for the latest issue.

It will be free to access for a limited time here

When asked to describe the paper, and highlight its importance, the author stated the following:

In recent years many planners have proposed increasing housing or population densities to promote health, building on similar arguments related to sustainability. They have promoted programs of metropolitan densification, to regulating maximum and minimum densities in greenfield locations, to urban infill incentives. Discussions about density levels and patterns have been at times vibrant and full of conflict; at other times the benefits or problems have been taken for granted.

Density has been of particular interest because, depending on the topic, different density levels and types appear to cause problems or create benefits, can typically be measured and compared with some precision, and are amenable to manipulation via the toolkit of urban and regional planning strategies.

Density, however, comes in multiple forms and intersects with a wide range of health issues making such debates complex. In many cases effects are mixed; high planning densities can be helpful, problematic, or unimportant got health depending on the type of density, health issue, and population. Density is often confused with closely related terms such as crowding or building height.

This paper clarifies the concept of density and distinguishes measured planning density from several closely related terms such as crowding, population ratios, and housing types. It conceptualizes how density relates to healthy environments generally. Exploring the case of design for frail seniors it shows that people can do well in different densities but for different health issues, different types and levels of densities may offer advantages. For example, lower building densities can help with air quality and higher population densities access to services.

Overall, density remains an important planning concept with relevance for both understanding and remaking places in the coming century.

Journals

Town Planning Review 89.3 Featured Article

The editors of TPR have selected ‘Minding the gap: the professionals’ view on the interaction between urban design theory and practice’ by Hooman Foroughmand Araabi as the Featured Article for the latest issue.

It will be free to access for a limited time here

When asked to describe the paper, and highlight its importance, the author stated the following:

Minding the gap

This paper looks into the ways in which the theory and practice of urban design interact and identify reasons why there are sometimes gaps between the two. A set of interviews with leading theorists and influential practitioners helped me to analyse the key factors and mechanisms that are (in)forming both theory and practice. Understanding these mechanisms will enable professionals (both academics and practitioners) to more purposefully progress the field of urban design. So, the paper minds the gap in two senses, first by drawing attention to gaps between theory and practice and second by presenting thinking on how to do something about those gap(s)!

This paper shares a wide range of findings. For example, it is evident that knowledge does not pass seamlessly from one party to another. Practitioners are busy developing their own knowledge that is situated, site-specific and practical whilst academics, in turn, are busy producing outcomes for reaching a high level of academic measurements. Nonetheless, the paper reports positive and provocative findings about the interactions between theory and practice.

Even though the interviewees were all English language speakers, the paper provides inspiration for urban designers globally. The readers can compare their own experiences with those of the professionals described here. This paper aims to be a first step in revisiting urban design as a profession, understanding its relation to more fundamental theories (such as social sciences) and finding effective ways to better link practice back to theory.

History

Tara Martin López – Author Insights

This month, The Winter of Discontent by Tara Martin López is our chosen #FreeReadFriday title. Learn more about the book below through our chat with the author, before it’s available to download free this Friday (7th of October).

Tara Martin López

 Tara Martin López is Professor of Sociology at Peninsula College.*

1. What prompted you to write this book?

I first heard of the Winter of Discontent when discussing politics with a British friend who continually referred to how bad things were in 1979 when trade unions were supposedly “out of control.” According to him Margaret Thatcher intervened and brought Britain out of a socialist mire. I was amazed not only that a person born in 1980 would have such a potent memory of the event, but also that it was a touchstone of his conversations decades later. He also used this series of events as a political cudgel against the Labour movement and social democracy. My interest was immediately piqued, and I sought to work under historian Sheila Rowbotham at the University of Manchester to write my Ph.D. thesis on the topic. After finishing my Ph.D., I was awarded fellowships from both the Barry Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust and the Lipman-Miliband Trust, which allowed me to expand my research.

As I was completing this work, a series called “Studies in Labour History” appeared at Liverpool University Press. I thought my work would be a perfect match for that series. I was elated when LUP accepted my proposal because it gave me the opportunity to share research on an extremely important topic with a broader audience.

2. What is the main argument of the book?

I argue that Conservative and Labour Party politics were primarily responsible for the particular contours of the myth of the Winter of Discontent. Many politicians like Margaret Thatcher effectively used the Winter of Discontent as a symbol of the “bad old days of socialism” to warn British voters away from electing Labour for more than a decade. However, while this dominant image of the Winter of Discontent arose out of a very real sense of chaos and crisis in the late 1970s, I demonstrate that the mythical resonance of these experiences only developed after the series of strikes had been resolved. Furthermore, I assert that instead of a fratricidal act, rank-and-file activists and local trade union leaders were engaged in activism that was hoping to address declining real wages and shifts in the ideological, gender, and racial composition of the trade union movement and the Labour Party. This series of strikes must also be seen in the context of evolving social movements such as the New Left and the Women’s Movement. I contend that the memories of local trade union leaders and grassroots activists involved in the strikes challenge the grim implications of the myth of the Winter of Discontent. More specifically, among some of the female trade unionists, the strikes of 1978-79 provided a transformative inroad into broader activism in the Labour movement for years to come. Finally, I assert that the different rememberings of the Winter of Discontent have distinctly shaped participants’ political identities, which, in turn, helped to reconfigure the political landscape of the Left decades later.

3. Why do you think the roles of female and black activists during the strikes have been largely ignored in the past?

I think the primary reasons lie in traditions of historical scholarship, limitations in archival material, and the gendered nature of the myth of the Winter of Discontent.

Unfortunately, the absence of these women and black activists has been part of the long tradition of erasing the contributions of women, people of color, and especially women of color, from the historical narrative. Labour historians’ emphasis on social class, in particular, tended to sideline equally important issues of gender, race, ethnicity, and sexuality. However, I had the privilege of researching at a time where the works of people like Sheila Rowbotham, Ava Baron, and Paul Gilroy had begun to open new lines of inquiry into these areas.

Previous accounts of the time period also privileged the perspectives of politicians and male trade unionists. By relying heavily on the biographies of Conservative and Labour politicians as primary sources, for example, by and large, perspectives were limited to those of white, middle to upper class, men. Newspapers, on the other hand, provided a broader spectrum of perspectives, including those of black activists and women, but still the coverage did not explore how and why these individuals became politically active. That is why it was so important for me to conduct oral histories with both women and men involved in these strikes. These oral histories, therefore, provided essential insight into the perspectives of women and black activists that were ignored for so long.

Finally, the absence of female activists, in particular, served a political agenda. A key element of this myth was that Margaret Thatcher was the one leader tough enough to stand up to the “trade union bully boys” who had crippled Britain during the 1970s. Politically, the potency of that dichotomous image would have been undermined if the historical reality of working class women as striking trade unionists had been brought to the fore.

4. Why do you think the myths surrounding the ‘greedy’ workers during the Winter of Discontent became so embedded?

The particular nature of the strikes, and, again, politics, played a key role in perpetuating this myth of “greedy” workers during the Winter of Discontent.

With the rise of the service sector in the UK during the 1970s, which coincided with the growth of female employment in these jobs, strikes were no longer just factory stoppages. For instance, care assistants for the elderly and the disabled were tasked with taking strike action during the Winter of Discontent without hurting the people they served. The oral histories reveal the creative ways people took action, like not doing a patient’s hair one day, but still providing essential care. Nonetheless, such strikes, especially in the NHS, provoked particular ire in the media. Headlines in The Daily Mail read “Target for Today – Sick Children” or “Patients Sent Home – Some Will Die.” I think the strikes of junior doctors in the NHS this year demonstrate the continued struggle such workers have in regards to addressing issues of workplace justice while providing essential care.

I further demonstrate that both Conservative and Labour Party politicians were instrumental in embedding the negative image of workers in popular memory. The Conservative Party, along with major media outlets like The Sun, not only evoked images of the Winter of Discontent and conniving workers in the 1979 General Election, but in subsequent General Elections, as symbols of Labour incompetence. Ironically, New Labour leaders subsequently used the same images to reinvent the party by telling voters that it was no longer the “party of the Winter of Discontent” that had been besieged by so called “greedy workers” in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

You can download The Winter of Discontent ebook free on Friday 7th of October using code FreeReadFriday at the checkout. See our blog for more instructions. 

 

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*Photo by Emma Jones