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OP2363 How can the planning system deliver effective and socially just climate change policy and developments?

   Department of Geography & Environmental Sciences

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  Prof A Scott  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project


This PhD fills a significant research gap at the science-policy-practice nexus dealing with the planning development pipeline incorporating the EVIDENCE-ASSESS-PLAN - DELIVER stages with particular reference to mitigating and adapting to climate change and equity. The focus on both policy and development components simultaneously is rare but highlights the interdependencies and current disintegration between policy and delivery on the ground. Furthermore, the focus on the linkages between equity and climate change fills an important research gap. The core research question is: How can the planning system deliver effective and socially just climate policy and developments? In order to tackle these complex challenges we envisage the researcher taking a mixed methods approach rooted in policy evaluation; science-practice knowledge mobilisation and experiential research using a participatory action research (PAR) method. The research will involve both policy-led and development-led assessments and evaluations. These two different starting points will enable convergence and additionality to help shape improved policy and delivery processes and outcomes by local planning authorities and developers. Ultimately this requires taking an opportunistic approach to work with potential partners according to the time the PhD starts in October 2023. The supervisory team have extensive links to both local planning authorities and developers who can act as partners in the research and become integral members of the supervisory team.

Proposed Method:

This research is organic and will evolve through the range of methods identified as necessary to address the research question. Candidates should be able to develop this to reflect their own ideas and potential pathways.

1. SYSTEMATIC REVIEW to identify the key published evidence on equity and climate change as it impacts on the planning development pipeline. This involves both peer review and grey literature in order to illuminate and assess the limited research tat vis being done in this area. 2. POLICY: An initial baseline assessment analysing the quality and strength of extant statutory planning policies across England covering climate and equity. An assessment framework will be required building from previous work on green infrastructure from the supervisor. This would enable the identification of a set of model policies of good practice. 3. PRACTICE: Here 3-5 projects will be evaluated on the ground that have addressed both equity and climate change. Here using/adapting Building with Nature standards together with the above framework, we can help identify the key drivers that led to success. 4. ACTION RESEARCH: The core part of the research would then be using that intelligence to work with a local authority and developer using participatory action research methods to help with an emerging local plan (policy) and also to help with an emerging master plan project development. The embedding in both policy and practice would enable key insights to be gained to help address the current policy-delivery gap and also improve the way evidence is used to improve the quality of policy and development. 5. RESULTS: The methods will require both qualitative and quantitative research methods to illuminate and propose new policy and practice tools to tackle the nexus between climate change and equity in policy and practice. Rather than create new tools existing tools will be prioritised to try and adapt and improve to incorporate these requirements. Here impact assessments are a prime candidate. However, the specific tools will emerge from the research process itself. 6. ACADEMIC CONTRIBUTION : The project provides important academic work at the interface of spatial planning, climate science and social justice. This straddles several disciplines and professions and also provides important knowledge exchange outcomes.


A passion for interdisciplinary research crossing environmental and social sciences would be an advantage. Experience (research or policy) in one of these fields is essential: spatial planning, climate change and social justice/equity. For more information, please contact [Email Address Removed]

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