What can the UK learn from the Chinese planning system?

A recent report concluded that by implement parts of the Chinese planning system, the UK could boost economic growth writes Richard Carr.


Richard Carr says the UK should look at China

What can the UK learn from the Chinese planning system?

According to the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) who commissioned the Planning China’s Future study, the UK could learn from China by implement stronger strategic planning which would boost the country’s economy.

Currently, UK town planning is seen as a brake to economic growth rather than an accelerator.

The report, Planning China’s Future, was based on research conducted by three members of staff from University College London (UCL), who found that municipalities in the Asian powerhouse used strategic planning to attract developments they wanted.

Extracts from the report explain how Chinese planning has become central to the governance system.

“The focus of planning should be shifted from physical design to economic development in order to cope with the demands of the market,” said the report.

“In the Chinese context, planning has undergone this transformation and succeeded in adapting to the marketisation of the Chinese economy. Chinese planning in this case has managed to become more important and central to the governance system.”

The report also said that studying the Chinese system also illustrates “how extreme liberalisation of the planning system should be avoided, as this would weaken the ability of planners to shape the development market.”

Will the UK take China’s lead?

According to RTPI head of research Mike Harris, it’s likely that the UK will continue to learn from China’s National Infrastructure Plan: “As the UK develops its strategic relationship with China on major projects and investments such as the National Infrastructure Plan and the Northern Powerhouse, these findings can be useful to provide a more positive interpretation of planning and help counter the perception that planning is a passive obstacle to economic growth.”