Cities, and in particular historic cities, are recognised as valuable resources within the increasingly competitive and integrated European economy. This paper focuses on the experiences of two such cities, Edinburgh and Prague, contrasting different approaches in local planning and urban regeneration policy. Edinburgh, like other western European capitalist cities, has a long tradition of strategic planning and policy making, engaging with a broad range of policy stakeholders and local interest groups. In contrast, the city of Prague highlights some of the difficulties faced by post-socialist cities as they adapt to the economic forces of the European Union and globalisation. Limited attention has been given to how post-socialist cities have managed to come to terms with such forces and reconcile competing national and local trends. In the paper, key issues identified in Prague refer to the fragmentation of local government, the lengthy nature of re-establishing property ownership and procedural difficulties with the planning system. These problems have effectively hindered the formulation of a strategic framework for future urban planning, and have led to a lack of co-operation between decision makers in the city. The comparison between the experiences of east and west clearly highlights the necessity of re-focusing on the relationship between the planning system and its specific context of governance structures. Planning historic cities is a necessary factor to ensure that sustainable development is achievable, and to secure an advantageous position within the emerging European hierarchy. Post-socialist cities can do more by learning from the experience of urban Europe, as East looks West.
- Urban regeneration