Leverhulme Fellowships for re-thinking urban development

Bob Colenutt and I have both gained Leverhulme Fellowships to research, write up and disseminate ideas about how the dysfunctional urban development mechnisms of the UK can be replaced by ones which are fairer, more stable, better value for citizens and more collective than the market individualism which has recently been dominant. My bid said “This project analyses the underlying instabilities and inequalities of the market-led urban development model dominant until its current crash, and the potential of alternative  models. The project draws together, updates and synthesizes professional experience, academic research and international network learning from the past 4 decades. The UK’s recent models for urban— especially housing—development have proved uniquely deficient, failing to provide good housing for all, redistributing wealth regressively, failing to capture revenues for infrastructure or collective services or to upgrade the stock for sustainability. My theoretical work and analysis of other European models offers appealing alternatives.”

The parallel bid by Bob Colenutt (University of Northampton) said: This research examines the potential of community-led land and property development for the renewal of deprived urban neighbourhoods.  Pure market-led developments often lead to gentrification and displacement in deprived neighbourhoods.  Many communities are seeking alternatives to this process.  Using UK and European examples, the research examines the experience of community-led planning and property development schemes run by community development trusts and neighbourhood associations.  It explores the challenges they face, and  asks whether the current crisis in property markets creates an opportunity for this type of development to be a major instrument of urban renewal.

If you can join in or contribute please comment here.  Michael

Author: Editors


3 thoughts on “Leverhulme Fellowships for re-thinking urban development”

  1. I am an urban planner working for the City Council in the north of Glasgow. The north of Glasgow is a former industrial area and has suffered disproportionately over the last four decades from the effects of de-industrialisation and structural adjustment of the economy. This manifests itself in a level of social, economic and environmental damage which would be anticipated given the shock of these conditions. I am currently working to develop a project (as part of a wider Scottish Government sponsored programme called Equally Well ( http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2008/06/25104032/0 ) which will examine the relationship between planning and health inequality as it manifests itself in Glasgow. You may be aware that Glasgow has a significant problem with health inequality, with certain areas showing male life expectancy on a par with 3rd world countries. My personal interest lies in the relationship between the social structure and health inequality. A substantial body of research has been undertaken in this area, including by many of your colleagues at UCL, which demonstrate a clear link between social determinants of health and a social gradient in health outcomes. In this regard I wish to examine how planning and the urban development process have contributed to current levels of health inequality in Glasgow and what might be done to amend this influence to a more positive situation. My view at this point is that both the process through which planning and urban development happen (and has happened) and its outcomes will be important in this regard.

    I am writing to you now in response to the blog you posted on your website regarding the Leverhulme Fellowship you are undertaking with Bob Colenutt. I would be interested to be kept up to date on your progress and output from the project in terms of alternative planning models. I am equally interested in the statement by Bob Colenutt. I have increasingly been of the view that community led land and property developments have an important role to play not just in terms of the positive urban development outcomes they can generate but also their value in terms of direct democracy. In relation to my current work I am interested in understanding if this directly democratic or participative model of planning can help reduce health inequality through a positive influence on social structure and social environment. In recent years Glasgow has and continues to pursue similar planning and development polices to other UK cities. Whilst this has seen substantial physical development, many of Glasgow’s citizens have been left behind in terms of the socio-economic and environmental conditions which they live in Any evidence which can be used to influence a positive change in this regard would be useful.


  2. Eamonn: I’m not myself doing work on health inequalities; The leading person here on that is Michael Marmot but I’m not sure how much research or thought there is on what planning can do about it – beyond the obvious of poverty reductions, housing improvement, air quality etc… I’ll keep my ears open and you might also try an email round the PNUK list seeking others working on this theme.

    So far as the work with Bob Colenutt on land and property development goes, I hope we’ll be very exemplary about conducting a lot of the work in public, using the web (including ths site, and perhaps others). Why not take an RSS feed here and then switch it to some more dedicated site if we set one up in the autumn?

    Best wishes with your project anyway. Michael


  3. Eamonn: the Mayor of London, despite being a Tory, has produced (or permitted the production, I don’t know) of a Health Equalities Strategy which actually seems to be good. The chances of it generating appropriate social changes must be slim, and there is not much of it carried through into the (statutory) London Plan draft.
    You’ll find a link to it from http://ucljustspace.wordpress.com Michael, and happy new year.


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