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How a study tour of the UK is helping develop a spatial strategy in Oman

A team from Atkins Acuity hosted a Study Tour of London and its surroundings for six Omani staff from the Supreme Council for Planning as part of the Oman National Spatial Strategy project. The tour was designed to provide the client with varying experience and insight into how national planning and development operates in another region of the world. Delegates gained first-hand experience of planning in real environments, the lessons learnt in the UK over hundreds of years, and how this shapes the UK today. This experience will allow the attendees to reflect on what they have seen and consider which elements will be applicable to developing Oman over the next twenty years.

The 10-day tour covered a detailed programme of events, visiting a breadth of development sites across London and the South-East. Highlights from the trip include a tour of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park led by Atkins lead landscape designer on the project who showed the delegates how an earlier industrial region can be regenerated. The group also visited Cambridge to see the juxtaposition of old and new – a renowned, historic university city that now has a growing high-tech science and business centre. Whilst a trip to the South Downs National Park, led by provided a great insight into the contrasting rural considerations and how development is managed in a protected environmental area.

Throughout the tour, comparisons were made between UK examples and considerations in Oman – providing a direct focus on how this experience can be used to inform the Oman National Spatial Strategy project. The group were accompanied each day by experts from Atkins in planning, environment, and design. Each expert shared specialist knowledge on each of the sites and the successes and challenges faced. Through contact with those responsible for spatial strategy and large-scale infrastructure development in the UK, our client team are now better able to evaluate different strategic planning options and planning control approaches for use in Oman. The days which examined the operation of National Parks and urban regeneration schemes will help to inform decision making on how such entities should be created in Oman as well as the longer-term requirements for the governance of these to be successful.

The Study Tour is the first event of its type to be run by Atkins and has been viewed as a great success. Nassib Al-Sibassi, the Project Director, has said ‘The client enjoyed a varied and informative intensive ten days of learning in London and the surrounding area.  Feedback has been extremely positive and we look forward to continuing our work together on developing this important national strategy to support the successful development of Oman over the next 20 years.’