Making It Happen

Focusing on how we bring about change

Even when we know what good urbanism looks and feels like, we are still often incapable of creating it in the planning of existing urban areas or the creation of new ones. The Academy of Urbanism has always done more than just celebrate great places. Through our assessment visits, reports and subsequent publications we seek to understand the processes by which they are created. This involves an interplay of local authorities, community groups and business, all of whom need to work together to create a really good place.

We are often drawn to the strong charismatic mayors of many European cities. Their leadership, combined with a clear strategy, seems to be the common factor in successful cities. However, for every great mayor who transforms their city there is probably another ineffective mayor who we never get to hear about. We need to be careful not to seize on simplistic solutions; city leadership is complicated and can only have a marginal impact in the face of wider market forces. We therefore believe that we need to set leadership into a broader set of measures to reform the way that we plan our towns and cities:

Regional Policy
There is an important role for regional planning to support urban growth, ensuring that development can be co-ordinated across administrative boundaries

Local Autonomy
Successful cities tend to be those that can control their own destiny, retain local taxes and decide how this money is spent

Strong City Leadership
Annual elections make strategic decisions almost impossible. Cities need mayors elected for at least five years

Bold Strategies
It is important to concentrate on a realisable number of strategic developments while creating the conditions to allow the market to create good urbanism

Planning Reform
Continental European cities have a planning system that allows them to masterplan and control the way that sites are developed and to capture the uplift in land value to spend on infrastructure

Participatory Planning
There need to be mechanisms to allow conversations about planning and design at the city and local level to build a consensus about city development

Cross-Disciplinary Working
Good urbanism is a collaborative process involving all urban disciplines

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