Planning Cities for the Future
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Planning Cities for the Future

The Successes and Failures of Urban Economic Strategies in Europe

Peter Karl Kresl

Planning Cities for the Future links the study of urban economic competitiveness with urban planning and is able to ascertain the crucial factors for success in this area of public policy. These factors include effective governance, leadership and monitoring of performance. The author also reveals how economic turbulence – macro-economic stagnation, the emergence of competitors such as China and Central Europe and the introduction of the euro for example – all have distinct impacts on the economic development of cities. He also suggests that today’s economic strengths may create tomorrow’s social pathologies, a fact which city planners must always keep in mind. Peter Kresl’s book offers examples of cities that got it right and others that did not.
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Chapter 1: The Urban Context and the Need for Economic–Strategic Planning

Peter Karl Kresl


We have all seen the satellite photographs of Europe at night, with the European geographic space filled with bright dots, larger or smaller, indicating the concentrations of human beings in towns and cities. Another feature of this photograph is, not surprisingly, the absence of national borders or of anything else that would suggest that Europe was anything other than a ‘network of cities.’ This is, of course, the conceptualization that many activist city leaders1 sought to promote beginning with the establishment of the Eurocities Movement in 1988. This photograph is also a static, one frame image. In 1990, the year in which this study begins, things may not have been all that comfortable for those who were unemployed or in jobs which underutilized their skills, but at least things were generally predictable for Europe’s citizens in this global economy. The state welfare systems are healthy enough so that those in real need are generally able to get by. Not at all like those living in market-driven, Anglo-saxon economies in which the unfortunate are left to fend for themselves. Looking back on Europe as it was in 1990, it is clear that it was between two periods of crisis. The period the French refer to as ‘les trentes glorieuses,’ the period of strong reconstruction or recovery-based growth and unemployment rates of less than 5 per cent, had been brutally brought to its end by the oil price hikes of 1973 and 1979. Growth slowed, unemployment rates became double-digit, and European...

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