Academic journal article The Town Planning Review

Urban Planning: An Introduction

Academic journal article The Town Planning Review

Urban Planning: An Introduction

Article excerpt

Urban Planning: An Introduction, Chris Couch, Bedford, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016, 340 pp., £27.99, ISBN 9781137427564

This book is an excellent addition to the literature available to those wishing to gain and expand their insights into urban planning and development and will be an extremely welcome addition to reading lists for introductory modules on planning and related courses. The aim of the book, as identified in the Preface, is to introduce readers to contemporary urban problems and some of the possible solutions and to explore some of the main challenges and opportunities facing urban areas in the developed world. The author has clearly succeeded in this aim.

The book is well structured and thematically organised, covering a comprehensive range of contemporary urban issues and policy responses. The book starts by exploring the historical context in relation to the evolution of urban change and planning, which provides a robust basis for the discussion of the individual themes. The historical perspective provides the reader with a clear understanding of how and why some of the key issues facing our urban areas today have arisen and what the impact of previous policy responses has been. The evolution of influential planning ideas, from Howard's 'garden cities' to Le Corbusier's 'Ville Radieuse', are explained clearly, allowing the reader to situate contemporary issues within their historical context.

The thematic structure makes the book easy to follow and allows the reader to explore specific issues according to their needs. The themes cover issues relating to governance and the implementation of planning, sustainable development and the goals of planning, economic change and development, retailing and town centres, housing and neighbourhood issues, place-making, urban design and conservation, mobility and accessibility. The book concludes with a consideration of the future of urban planning. The context for each theme is clearly set out, before a discussion of the contemporary issues in relation to each theme is developed. The importance of context (location, geography, history, demography, socio-economic circumstances and governance arrangements) are implicitly emphasised throughout the book, providing the reader with a clear overview of how and why the challenges facing contemporary urban planning have emerged and evolved.

The author is also not afraid to highlight some of the ambiguities and conflicts in relation to urban planning concepts and ideas, acknowledging widely held public scepticism about concepts such as the compact city that have received support from a broad cross-section of planning professionals for a number of years. …

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