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1. Can you briefly introduce yourself?

I am Hong. I am originally from Shanghai, China. I am currently working as an Associate Planner at LUC.

2. How does the planning system/practices in the UK differ from China? Any lessons learnt for the UK? 

I have not worked in China so I cannot provide many insights based on my work experience or share any lessons learnt for the UK.  However, it is clear that China’s political system is different from the UK's, and this has made a vast difference in how development comes forward in China.

When I lived in Shanghai, I witnessed gentrification as a result of urban renewal projects. Thousands of families were displaced in the outskirts of the city where no or limited infrastructure was provided to support the new community. At that time, there was very little public participation in the city’s new planning projects. However, things have changed a lot since I left.

UK’s planning system is well established, and public engagement is considered an important element of the planning system. Nevertheless, it is sometimes too onerous for local governments and communities and does not always achieve the best outcomes as expected. 

3. How does your East Asian heritage influence your understanding/approach/practice in planning?

I believe my East Asian heritage has influenced my approach in various aspects, for example:

In Chinese culture, it often prioritises collectivism and community cohesion rather than focusing on individualism. My culture has enabled me to place a strong emphasis on community needs and consensus-building in planning decisions. I support development projects that benefit the broader community rather than just individual interests.

In addition, Chinese culture also puts a strong emphasis on family and social networks. This has influenced my approach to making sure that place-making strategies should support extended families and social connections through putting homes in the right places with supported infrastructure including community facilities.

4.  Can you name one of your favourite places/developments in the UK that reflects East Asian heritage? And why? 

London Kings Cross St Pancras Station. It is an excellent example to show how planning can transform a previously run-down and underutilised part of London into an efficient mixed-use district which benefits both existing and new communities.

5. Why do you think it is beneficial for the planning profession to embrace East Asian heritage and planners with East Asian heritage? 

To have a different perspective and be willing to try a new approach in planning.

6. What advice would you give to prospective and current planners from East Asian backgrounds?

Be adaptable, be resilient and be you.


Celebrating East and South East Asian Heritage Month

Helen Hong Chen


Associate Planner

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