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  Valuing green and blue urban landscapes

   Faculty of Engineering, Computing and the Environment

   Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

During this prolonged period of neo-liberal development our discourse in the West has become fragmented between a growing concern for climate change/sustainability and a continued need to promote intensive growth and prioritise the needs of capital. The language we have constructed to explain development and our ‘easily’ justified matrices, that measure and evaluate growth in capital terms, have clearly prioritised the values of this neo-liberal paradigm over and above our ability to consider and value green and blue landscapes within our urban spaces.

Over the last 20 years there have been sporadic attempts to construct methods and techniques that try to evaluate green spaces or riparian landscapes within the lexicon of development, but so far nothing has emerged that definitively captures the ‘value’ of these places.

Working together with the Thames Landscape Strategy organisation in South West London (and their partner organisation in Richmond Virginia), and a host of other local stakeholders (some community and some representing national institutions – Environment Agency, Natural England, etc.) the aim of this thesis will be to challenge the dominant paradigm of the development discourse and construct a viable methodology for valuing green and blue spaces within urban areas.

At present the Thames Landscape Strategy, who have drafted a 100 year plan to conserve and develop the Arcadian Thames Landscape from Kew to Kingston are constantly struggling to justify the need and value of green and blue open spaces within South West London, set against the ever present needs of capital to take advantage of developments within the built environment. Local authorities are under pressure to deliver the need for housing, and due to under resourcing and skewed planning regimes they are also continually at a loss to defend the piecemeal encroachment into these spaces unless they can fundamentally show it will detrimentally impact the existing wider capital investment in the area by increasing flood risk or creating diseconomies within the area. Although even these standpoints do not always work.

These organisations and intuitions, that rely on public sector funding, charitable donations and the volunteering sector, are desperate to be able to coherently present the case for the these threatened landscapes in terms that can be understood within the development process, so that their value can be expressed in equal terms to the needs of capital.

This will be both a theoretical and a practical challenge that will require innovative approaches to redefine ideological narratives on ‘value’ and imagination to construct experimental techniques for measuring and interpreting this value within a practitioner setting.

You would be expected to have a solid background in the social sciences but also an understanding of environmental management within an urban setting. The project will require a review of existing methods and literature within this field of study, from across the globe, and intensive local field research together with international comparative analysis in the US with the TLS partner institution in Virginia. The methods of investigation will span ecological and social investigation, with the aim of creating a functioning framework that environmentally concerned institutions can draw upon.

Apart from this required practical output this thesis will also contribute to our current knowledge by not only outlining different approaches to how we value landscape, but by theoretically challenging the dominant language and paradigm of neo-liberal development within our urban spaces.

Geography (17)

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