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

Below are abstracts from our current research students.

Dean Bell

Dean’s research is motivated by the need to improve urban tree performance in paved environments and to optimise the suite of concomitant benefits. His PhD is investigating the role of engineered tree pit solutions in urban tree survival and ecosystem services delivery in hard landscapes. Focussing on crate systems and structural growing media, this research assesses the solutions’ impact on urban tree establishment, growth and physiological functioning, the delivery of a range of ecosystem services and examines whether the solutions can support the diversification of UK urban forests.   

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 RIBA

Full Profile | Twitter | Research Gate

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.”

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

Eli Fumoto

Eli's PhD is to evaluate a citizen-led neighbourhood regeneration method (Yamori) as means to sustainably revitalise shrinking cities. Japan is an advanced shrinking country and its government has been significantly investing to revitalise shrinking cities. However, their projects have brought little effect.

On the other hand, Yamori has been producing tangible results and increasingly popular. The draft research question is ‘Can Yamori sustainably revitalise shrinking cities?’. This research aims to explore the question not only from technical aspects but also from human motivation perspective.

Director of Studies: Dr Katie McClymont.
Supervisors: Dr Stephen Hall and Professor Katie Williams.

Emma Griffin

Emma's research explores the social dynamics and structures of a community land trust in the early stages of a housing development project. As we see more partnerships emerge between land trusts and housing associations, there is a need to understand the nature of these collaborations and to look critically at normative assumption that community-led housing leads to citizen empowerment. Her research uses a participatory research approach to capture the stories of members involved in a housing project in Bristol. It examines the case study members' experiences through the lens of power relations in order to understand the extent to which the project supports active participation in alternative housing delivery.

Supervisors: Professor Katie Williams and Dr Michael Buser.

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.

Elena Marco

The direction of Elena's research involves exploring how clutter, consumerism and utilitarian objects can influence sustainable behaviour as well as looking at understandings into key energy literacy attributes in the context of architectural education and practice in the UK and beyond.

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).

Adam Sheppard

The discretionary plan-led planning system in the UK operates via both prescribed and ambiguous policy provisions. Policy ambiguity can create uncertainty and implementation barriers, but also creativity and innovation. Using an exceptional case approach, this study explores the value and challenge of policy ambiguity or prescription in the context of Low Impact Development. Exploring both the Welsh and English contexts, the work aims to identify the implications of varying policy approaches for the same broad development type.

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