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Having just got back from Japan (Osaka & Nagasaki) my main impression is how much more pleasant many of our cities are; greener & less crowded, thanks in part to our green belts and planning system. Very might be building more houses. But I wouldn’t want to live there.
Hi Mick – Thanks for your comment. I agree that there is probably less green public space inside Japanese cities than I would personally like. A better balance could be struck between reserving land for development and for city centre/suburban parks.
However, this has little to do with the planning system. All local government in Japan has to do to improve the provision of high quality green space is buy land inside their city and then landscape it. Policies like the green belt don’t actually make British cities more pleasant because they protect agricultural land outside built up areas, rather than in accessible areas like Hampstead Heath or Wollaton Park inside cities. Having more and denser housing in UK cities is compatible with keeping our many high quality parks.
I would also disagree that the greater population density of Japanese cities makes them less pleasant. Outside of the city centres (which should be buzzing, bustling areas of economic activity), the suburbs are surprisingly chilled and quiet given how many people live in these cities, perhaps due to Japanese cities’ lack of on-street parking and less driving.
Clearly Japanese people agree that their big cities are nice places to live, as Tokyo and Nagoya’s population continues to grow every year. Lots of people mean there’s lots of amenities and high wages – and their planning system means they have cheap housing too.