This chapter begins by noting some differences between the situation of planning in Western Europe and in the United States. Among these differences are the destruction of urban areas in Europe during World War II, the unification of Europe, different attitudes about the role of government, the generally greater strength of the national government vis-a-vis provincial and local governments, and, generally, a greater willingness in Europe to regulate the uses of private property.
The chapter notes the building of new towns and the creation of green- belts in Great Britain, and the French effort to reduce the dominance of Paris and the lie de France by supporting the development of regional centers. We note the relatively centralized Dutch planning system and the creation of Randstad Holland. In the case of Sweden we note the use of public ownership of land and the dominant role of government in the housing market as the means by which Swedish municipal governments have shaped the pattern of development.
Throughout much of Western Europe in the 1980s and 1990s, there was an increase in property-led development so that the European planning scene came to resemble the American scene rather more than had previously been the case. Among the reasons for this change were a general political shift to the right, an increase in economic competition between places, and fiscal pressures that made public monies less available.
In Eastern Europe we note the priority given the needs of industry, the construction of massive housing projects, and the relatively low emphasis on the needs of service activities during the period of Soviet domination. In the decade since the end of Soviet domination and the breakup of the Soviet Union, the planning situation has been uncertain. What sort of planning tradition will emerge is unclear. There has been some public suspicion of planning simply because the term is associated with the period of Soviet domination. Now that the nations of Eastern Europe are part of the European Union (EU), that attitude may begin to change.
In connection with planning in Asia, we note the great differences in income among nations, large differences in population growth, and the wide varieties of political structures. The chapter also notes the inevitability of conflicts over goals and resources where large modern sectors coexist with large numbers of rural and urban poor.