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This book has one central theme: how, in the United Kingdom, can we create better cities and towns in which to live and work and play? What can we learn from other countries, especially our near neighbours in Europe? And, in turn, can we provide lessons for other countries facing similar dilemmas?
Urban Britain is not functioning as it should. Social inequalities and regional disparities show little sign of going away. Efforts to generate growth, and spread it to the poorer areas of cities, have failed dismally. Much new urban development and redevelopment is not up to standard. Yet there are cities in mainland Europe, which have set new standards of high-quality sustainable urban development. This book looks at these best-practice examples – in Germany, the Netherlands, France and Scandinavia, – and suggests ways in which the UK and other countries could do the same.
The book is in three parts. Part 1 analyses the main issues for urban planning and development – in economic development and job generation, sustainable development, housing policy, transport and development mechanisms – and probes how practice in the UK has fallen short.
Part Two embarks on a tour of best-practice cities in Europe, starting in Germany with the country’s boosting of its cities’ economies, moving to the spectacularly successful new housing developments in the Netherlands, from there to France’s integrated city transport, then to Scandinavia’s pursuit of sustainability for its cities, and finally back to Germany, to Freiburg – the city that ‘did it all’.
Part Three sums up the lessons of Part Two and sets out the key steps needed to launch a new wave of urban development and regeneration on a radically different basis.
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Sir Peter Hall (1932 - 2014) was Bartlett Professor of Planning and Regeneration at University College London, and President of both the Town and Country Planning Association and the Regional Studies Association. He produced over fifty books in his career and is internationally renowned for his studies on all aspects of cities and regions.Review:
[It] is already the book everyone is talking about as we see our cities’ planning departments decimated around us. It is a beacon of what is possible and gives hope. - Times Higher Education - Best books of 2013
An acute analysis - Lord Andrew Adonis, Financial Times
If you have ever wondered what a Catapult is or how it connects to the rest of the UK economy and political system, then this is the book for you. The writing is admirable and rich in human interest, with tales of multitasking French mayors, scandalous research disagreements and Scandi-noir all contributing to the integrity of the whole. - Flora Samuel, Times Higher Education
Hall has a clear idea of what the planning discipline should be about: it should be grounded in an understanding of the real world; it should be informed by a deep knowledge of history and a sense of cultural possibility; and, above all, it should remain focused on improving lives. He is himself the consummate planner. - Ben Rogers, The Guardian
"As usual, a book by Peter Hall takes a historic view, and is filled with erudite gems and facts. No doubt this self-designated city travelogue is addressed to urban designers." – Judith Ryser, Researcher, Journalist, Writer and Urban Affairs Consultant to Fundacion Metropoli, Madrid
"In this book Peter Hall has distilled the wisdom of an illustrious academic career into an ambitious blueprint for future successful, sustainable, resilient and equitable places. In writing this normative vision Hall has passed on the baton and set down the challenge for the next generation of academics and practitioners, to attempt to surmount the governance and financial obstacles, and realise the vision of Good Cities, Better Lives." – David McGuinness, Northumbria University
Good Cities, Better Lives offers useful insights for policy makers, spatial planners and urban geographers. It is a timely and a stimulating read for anyone interested in understanding more about the current issues cities are facing. It provides a comprehensive set of inspiring examples of innovative and creative planning practice in the urban space. – Urban Studies, Eduardo Oliveira, University of Groningen, the Netherlands
"I would not hesitate recommending this book as a ‘must have’ to anyone who is interested in urban and planning issues, including academics, students and policy-makers. It is a timely book that provides useful insights into how planning should be grounded in an understanding of reality that is informed by history and experiences with the aim of improving the lives of everyone. This book offers an excellent start to this project. Sadly, Sir Peter Hall passed away at the end of July 2014." – Housing Studies, Corina Buckenberger, Institute of Geography and Geoecology, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany
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