Research areas of the Centre for Sustainable Planning and Environments (SPE)

The Centre for Sustainable Planning and Environments (SPE) aims to develop an understanding of how to achieve healthy, resilient, sustainable and smart places, in the context of climate and ecological emergencies. We undertake world-leading research, which we bring into our teaching across UWE Bristol’s planning and built environment programmes.

We are a multidisciplinary research centre delivering high impact research in collaboration with our partners across academia, industry, local and national government, NGOs and civil society.

We undertake challenge-led research that contributes to planning theory, policy and practice across three inter-related themes. We are also contributing to contemporary debates on ethics in planning practice and planning education.

For more information about the research themes, please e-mail Professor Danielle Sinnett (

Healthy Places

Urban environments can influence our health and wellbeing. Their planning and design can provide opportunities for physical activity, connection with nature, social interaction as well as provide safe, affordable places to live, work and learn. But they can also restrict opportunities, sever communities, and contribute to inequality.

Our research examines how the planning, design and governance of the built environment contributes to tackling health and social inequalities. We investigate the impact of the built environment on health and wellbeing, for example, through understanding stakeholders' perspectives and evaluating interventions using different study designs, and qualitative and quantitative evidence. We also contribute to policy and guidance documents for a range of audiences.

Research topics

Research topics under the theme healthy places include:

  • designing places to support healthy lifestyles and behaviours
  • sustainable neighbourhood design
  • green infrastructure
  • urban regeneration and brownfield redevelopment
  • experiences of urban environments, including children and older people
  • urban agriculture
  • inclusive design
  • secular and faith-based spaces
  • community-led housing
  • arts-based therapy
  • health and place
  • lifestyle mobilities
  • migration in later life
  • impacts of second home tourism


See projects under the Healthy Places theme 

Sustainable and Resilient Places

Places are not static, often facing multiple, complex and interacting pressures in the form of climate and ecological emergencies, population change and economic crises. We research what makes places and communities resilient in the context of these global challenges.

We do this through research in UK and international settings, examining different approaches to the governance of place, and responses to climate change, environmental degradation, and variations in socioeconomic conditions. Our scholars employ a range of research frameworks and actively engage with stakeholders and end-users of research to produce meaningful, timely and useful analysis and guidance.

Research topics

Current research within this theme spans a range of topics including:

  • European policy for sustainable cities
  • multi-level governance and relational approaches to the politics of space and scale
  • renewable energy
  • urban regeneration and community involvement
  • tourism
  • infrastructure planning
  • climate change resilience
  • creation, interaction and framing of spatial policies, institutions and structures
  • food-energy-water nexus
  • engagement, collaboration and participation in planning
  • urban policy
  • carnival and creativity
  • global cities
  • destination resilience in tourism communities
  • collaborative economy and tourism
  • home exchange practices


See projects under the Sustainable and Resilient Places theme

Smart Cities

Those seeking to create healthy and sustainable cities, face multiple challenges of management complexity, democratic deficit, and dwindling resources. Advances in smart technology and the availability of data provide opportunities to harness the power of social and technology innovation to transform the effective management of the city and spatial decision making. We work with computer scientists to understand stakeholders needs and develop smart city solutions that respond to these.

We collaborate with city stakeholders globally to explore opportunities for smart technology to address their challenges, co-develop solutions and evaluate their efficacy.

Research topics

Research topics under the theme of Smart Cities include:

  • integrated urban management and digitisation in planning, stakeholder engagement and governance
  • supporting development of open governance based on co-production and collaborative forms of service design and delivery
  • enabling and empowering citizens and business to actively participate in the design, creation and delivery of open governance
  • promoting stakeholder engagement in the specification and evaluation of alternative solutions for smart cities


View projects under the Smart Cities theme

Research projects of the Centre for Sustainable Planning and Environments

Current and past projects of the Centre for Sustainable Planning and Environments.

Centre for Sustainable Planning and Environments (SPE)

Our aim is to develop understanding of how to achieve places that are environmentally sustainable, socially just and economically competitive.


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