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Dr Wei Yang's Abercrombie Lecture Published in Town Planning Review

Dr Wei Yang's Abercrombie Lecture Published in Town Planning Review

21 Feb 2024

After delivering the 17th Abercrombie Lecture in 2023, Dr Wei Yang's paper, titled 'Spatial Planning Reimagined: Rekindling the Founding Spirit for the Future,' has been published in Town Planning Review.

Thanks to the Liverpool University Press, the full paper is now accessible through Open Access: W. Yang (2024), the 17th Abercrombie Lecture Paper: Spatial planning reimagined: rekindling the founding spirit for the future, Town Planning Review, Vol 95.1.

The paper reviews the lifetime achievements and unrealised visions of Sir Leslie Patrick Abercrombie to stimulate discussions on the unprecedented challenges and opportunities facing the field of spatial planning. By revealing the founding spirit of the planning profession – compassion, selflessness and creativity, Dr Yang argues that the need for change is both external and internal. Thus, planners need to make behavioural changes within the profession to meet the demands of the future.

In the paper, Dr Yang outlined various actions and strategies for the systemic transformation of spatial planning, including:

  • Rebalancing three pillars of spatial planning - Creativity Pillar, Civic Support Pillar, and Administrative and Legislative Pillar;
  • Equipping planners with adequate capabilities and skills;
  • Implementing methodological changes for a digitally enabled integrative approach to spatial planning.

She also introduce the vision of the Digital Task Force for Planning, which aims to harness the power of digital technology and scientific innovation to modernise the profession - a profession that can coordinate the best knowledge and advance the most appropriate digital tools and technologies from related disciplines so that we can achieve a shared vision and create a better future for everyone.

The paper is organised in the following order:

  • Introduction: To be enlightened by the history
  • Sir Patrick Abercrombie – his inspiration, legacy, and unrealised visions
  • Rekindling the founding spirit - the legitimacy of reimagined spatial planning
  • A systemic transformation for the future
  • The Digital Task Force for Planning

Dr Yang commented, “It was a great privilege for me to have been invited by the Editors of Town Planning Review to deliver the 17th Abercrombie Lecture and publish in this oldest planning journal in the world, where Abercrombie was the first Editor. This unique opportunity allowed me to pay tribute to Abercrombie and other planning pioneers while sharing my thoughts on instigating systemic changes in spatial planning.

“Embracing the moral responsibility of fostering Truth, Beauty, and Goodness will propel the planning profession forward, positioning it as a recognised part of the solution in the eyes of the public. In the digital era, it remains imperative that the planning profession is characterised by Compassion, Selflessness, and Creativity. By harnessing the potential of digitally enabled spatial planning, we can transcend departmental and professional silos, offering a transformative solution that unites all positive forces towards achieving a Universal Common Good.”

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