Research students from the Centre for Sustainable Planning and Environments (SPE)
Below are abstracts from our current research students.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.