Research students from the Centre for Sustainable Planning and Environments (SPE)

Below are abstracts from our current research students.

Shahla Aliyari

Shahla is investigating the impact of the urban development plan on marginalized suburban areas of metropolitan Stockholm. The latest regional plan of Stockholm proposes eight new city cores in the urban periphery of the capital. Several of these will be located in the midst of marginalized residential neighbourhoods that are mainly home to low-income or newly arrived ethnic groups. The question arises whether the development plan will be based solely on economic priorities, with widespread social consequences, or take account of the balance between social sustainability goals and economic interests. To answer this question, Shahla will investigate in detail the process of the planning and design of these new neighbourhoods and their accordance or compatibility with a sustainable urban development strategy.

Director of Studies: Dr Hooman Foroughmand Araabi
Supervisor: Dr Stephen Hall

Dean Bell

Dean has particular interests in street tree planting design and establishment, and young tree growth and survival. His PhD, partnered with GreenBlue Urban and the Urban Forest Research Group, Forest Research, is investigating the impact of engineered tree pit solutions on street tree growth and establishment. This involves monitoring new planting programmes across a central borough and high-end development in London, and obtaining practitioner perspectives on the impact of tree pit design on key urban tree performance metrics. Dean is an arboriculturist by profession and is an active member of several industry working groups, where learning from his PhD is contributing to practitioner guidance.

Director of Studies: Professor Danielle Sinnett
Supervisors: Dr Hooman Foroughmand Araabi and Dr Kieron Doick (Forest Research)

Jo Bushell

Jo's PhD research aims to advance understandings of environmental sustainability within households, of importance as households have significant environmental impacts through their food, water and energy consumption. Taking a social constructionist approach, her study draws together thinkings on the post-colonial and migration, foodways and theories of care to provide the research framings. The fieldwork will take place in Bristol and will critically examine the Foodway values and practices of global south migrants living in Bristol, as their environmental perspectives and understandings offer global north cities a resource for new learnings about household sustainability to inform strategy and policy.

Director of Studies: Dr Katie McClymont
Second Supervisor: Dr Michael Buser

Mark Drane

Mark investigates residential streets as a setting for creating community health and wellbeing. The street is also a scale at which design practitioners might be able to intervene more readily than the neighbourhood or whole city scale. Having completed a systematic review of links between street scale design and non-communicable disease Mark is now progressing a qualitative study set in the residential street to investigate the mechanisms by which its microscale design might help or hinder the creation of health for the community that lives there.

Mark’s work is set within a social-ecologic systems approach to health and seeks to increase interdisciplinary understanding between public health and built environment disciplines. This research is closely aligned with his practice, Urban Habitats, which has a vision for design practice that is both ethical and works alongside communities and organisations to think about creating health and wellbeing. “Being based in the WHO Collaborating Centre and SPE at UWE Bristol has been a great experience for my PhD. I have access to world leading expertise and thinking organised in a creative, supportive, and collaborative learning environment.”

X (formerly Twitter) @healtharch | Research Gate

Director of Studies: Dr Laurence Carmichael
Supervisors: Professor James Longhurst, Dr Louis Rice and Professor Jane Powell

Jenna Dutton

Gender inequality is ever-present within both the profession and practice of planning. This has led to cities and city building practices have been created and evolved through predominantly patriarchal structures that have reinforced sexism in both public and private contexts.

Jenna’s PhD research is focused on gender inequality in cities and the role and potential of urban planning. Addressing gender equality and equity and improving the experience for women in cities involves intersecting considerations beyond traditional gender mainstreaming approaches that have been attempted in the UK over the past 20 years. Reducing harassment and violence against women and increasing safety, while important, is not the primary purpose of gender inclusive planning. It is well acknowledged that cities that are more gender inclusive are more sustainable and better for all. Nevertheless, large gaps continue to exist to strive for gender equity globally, and across the UK, between research, policy, practice and implementation.

The mixed-methods research will serve to identify gaps in the built environment, processes and policy that reinforce gender inequity. It will achieve this through engaging with local women, local community organizations and local stakeholders to contribute to an improved understanding of spatial equality in Bristol.

Anna Hope

Anna brings 20 years of personal and professional experience of working in the community-led housing (CLH) sector. Her PhD research is attempting to explore and reinterpret the concepts of “community” and “benefit” within the context of community-led housing. She hopes that a better understanding of the different groups of people (communities) that contribute towards the design, delivery and long-term running of CLH projects, and the benefits that these individuals and groups gain through their participation, will assist in future policy-making decisions, grant funding guidelines and practical implementation of CLH projects. The research is 50% funded by Power to Change, an independent charitable trust that supports and develops community businesses in England.

Director of Studies: Dr Katie McClymont
Second Supervisor: Dr Stephen Hall

Samuel Kyei

Samuel’s PhD research investigates the role and extent to which UWE Bristol’s Greenspaces impact the mental health of university students. The deteriorating mental health among students has given rise to global concerns. Greenspace is beneficial to mental health due to its restorative and cognitive benefits, including other engagement opportunities such as socialisation and physical activity. Using a mixed-methods approach, Sam’s study seeks to understand students' behaviours in relation to greenspace and how greenspace can benefit students in managing common mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety. The study uniquely brings a multidisciplinary approach in addressing the issue as it is based in health and built environment disciplines. Sam has a background in biological sciences and public health, and this project adds to his experience in multidisciplinary research.

Director of Studies: Professor Danielle Sinnett
Supervisors: Dr Issy Bray

Sara Melasecchi

Addressing the climate crisis at the socio-economic level is bringing a dramatic set of changes. However, the direction or depth of these changes is still unclear. While social forces mainly linked to the private sector promote a new “green economy” based on resource efficiency and technological advancement, others are concerned with the social implication of environmental protection. The controversy starts from the assumption that the new green economy can imply the trade-off between economic revenue and people’s well-being and valuable life paths.

This study sits in the middle of this debate and employs qualitative research methods to examine whether Bristol is embarking on a Just Transition, thus encompassing the concept of justice in climate, environmental, and energy scholar communities.

Exploring the Bristol City Council’s Climate Emergency scheme, the study aims at analysing the impact of decarbonisation policies on ethnic minorities within the urban city and produce measurable outcomes in terms of rights of inclusion and participation of all people, the development of environmental regulation and the rebalance of benefits and burdens of climate change.

Director of Studies: Dr Michael Buser
Supervisors: Dr Hooman Foroughmand Araabi and Dr Rebecca Windemer

Judith Parry

Judith is studying the wellbeing impact of grassroots “community-led” housing, with a focus on the influence of green space and infrastructure. She is a 50:50 funded scholar, receiving support from UWE Bristol and Power to Change.

Having gained an undergraduate degree in Zoology from USW Swansea, Judith went on to undertake a career in the voluntary sector, with much of her work being within the fields of mental wellbeing and community development. During this time, she also co-founded Sustaining Life, a community organisation via which she ran a therapeutic allotment project and now uses to facilitate the delivery of mental health awareness training and various participative sessions.

It is this concern for community health and wellbeing, twinned with a passion for natural places, which has led Judith to undertake her current research. She intends to work alongside communities of interest, seeking to increase understanding of and advocate for improvements to the social, emotional, and physical health landscapes, both literally and metaphorically. From the vantage point of her home in the South Wales Valleys, Judith is aware of the impact of multiple disadvantages upon populations and hopes that her PhD will help influence policymaking and service design within housing in the UK and further afield.

Director of Studies: Dr Katie McClymont
Supervisors: Dr Stephen Hall and Dr Helen Hoyle

Celia Robbins

Community-owned renewable energy challenges the incumbent model of centralised fossil fuel both through decentralising infrastructure and through alternative modes of governance and ownership. Studies of community energy have tended to focus on its social, governance and participation dimensions, with few examining its impact on people-place relations.

Celia's PhD will contribute to the understanding of how community energy interacts with the symbolic and affective dimensions of place. She will do this by looking at how place values are expressed through community wind energy proposals as they are negotiated through the planning process. Celia has a particular interest in the ways that landscape is perceived to be affected by wind energy and how this is interpreted by those involved in or affected by community energy projects. Celia is funded by the ESRC South West Doctoral Training Partnership.

Director of Studies: Professor Patrick Devine-Wright (University of Exeter)
Supervisors: Dr Catherine Butler (University of Exeter) and Professor Katie Williams

George Rowland

George is interested in low impact development, radical democracy and how planning addresses climate change. His PhD will research those who pursue low impact development while – for whatever reason – not attaining planning permission. In doing so this will explore what the limits of planning policy in relation to climate change are and synthesising this with the development of British planning and historical geographies of rural land and property. Focus will fall on why it has been difficult to pursue low impact development and what this tells us about planning’s approach to climate change mitigation. His aim is to co-produce the research output with the research participants. George is funded by the ESRC South West Doctoral Training Partnership.

Director of Studies: Professor Rob Atkinson
Supervisors: Dr Katie McClymont and Dr Alex Prichard (University of Exeter)

You may also be interested in