RAE2001 logo



RA5a: Structure,environment and staffing policy

The School has a very strong research base, a focus on policy relevant research and a commitment to linking research to teaching and learning. Our constant objective is research excellence, of international standing, which contributes to the better understanding, analysis and management of change in the natural and built environment. Our approach combines individual and group initiatives. Three larger groups and a number of sub-groups provide the building blocks for developing and consolidating key research foci. The large groups are: Impacts Assessment, Planning and Transport Policy, and Urban Policy and Management (in developed and developing countries). However, the groups are flexible structures; we encourage sub-group initiatives across groups, for example: in regional planning and innovation (between Impacts Assessment, and Planning and Transport Policy), and in design and regeneration (between Planning and Transport Policy, and Urban Policy and Management). There are also links with research groups in other Schools, with Architecture (for example, in the joint Schools initiative of the Oxford Centre for Sustainable Development (OCSD)), with Biological and Molecular Sciences (in Impacts Assessment), with other universities in the UK (eg Cardiff, UCL, Reading) and internationally (eg Amsterdam, Milan, Paris, Stuttgart, Cairo, Chulalongkorn, Curtin, MIT, Penn), and with practice.
Over the last five years our strategy has been to build on research strengths, manage change, and to support new areas of potential to produce research which advances both theory and methodology, and which influences policy and practice. The School has widened its research funding base, and has developed its teams of academic staff researchers, research associates and PhD students. The high quality PhD programme provides a major strand in the research life of the School, and there are also links to a range of highly successful Masters programmes. The structure and dynamics of the research environment, the staffing policy, and the current and future strategy are set out in the following sections. [Please note that, for this RAE, Oxford Brookes University's Real Estate Management staff are returned under the Built Environment UoA (33), and not under Town and Country Planning (as they were in RAE 96), reflecting the establishment of a Centre for Real Estate Management (CREM) in the School of Architecture].

The University gives very high priority in its Strategic Plan to the enhancement of its research activity, to the pursuit of excellence and to the diversification of funding sources. Research income is allocated primarily to those who direct and undertake research. An overhead is retained for the expansion of the University research infrastructure; for example, in 1997 a University Research Centre facility was opened to bring together University research and consultancy support, and to provide a research students' Common Room and conference/meeting facilities. The University manages its research activities through the Research and Consultancy Committee, chaired by the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research), who is responsible to the University for the promotion and management of research.
The School has its own Research and Consultancy Committee, the chair of which sits on the University Committee. The School Committee is responsible for generating and agreeing the research strategic plan, annual operating plans, for the disbursement of research funds and for monitoring and quality assurance. A Director of Research and a Research Degrees Tutor have School-wide responsibilities for research and consultancy and higher degrees respectively. The School's research potential is harnessed through the research groups each led by at least one professor.

Impacts Assessment Unit (IAU):
staffing includes Prof John Glasson (Leader), Andrew Chadwick, Dr Jackie Clarke, Prof Derek Elsom, Dr Kerry Godfrey, Dr Tim Marshall, Prof David Pepper, Dr Agustin Rodriguez-Bachiller, Prof Riki Therivel, Joe Weston, Elizabeth Wilson and Dr Graham Wood, plus 12 PhD students. Recent research funding includes: DoE/DETR, European Commission, Welsh Office, Nuclear Electric, UKAEA, Magnox Electric, National Power and ESRC. Impact Assessment has, over the last decade, moved from the fringes of development planning to become a widely recognised approach for sound project decision making. The IAU, as one of a small number of EC (DG Env) recognised EIA Centres of Excellence, has an agenda to provide theoretical and methodological underpinnings to this dynamic area, and to make significant contributions to policy and practice - particularly in the areas of decision making in EIA, socio-economic impact assessment, strategic environmental assessment (SEA), sector studies (energy, tourism and transport), comparative EIA practice, principles of sustainable development and links to land use planning.
Particular research themes where the IAU has developed an international reputation include work on SEA by Therivel (see RA2, refs 2, 3, 4) and Wilson (4); on socio-economic impact assessment of energy projects by Chadwick (1, 2, 3) and Glasson (4); and on various aspects of decision making in EIA by Glasson (2), Weston (1, 2, 3, 4) and Wood (1, 2, 4) whose work has a particular focus on post-development auditing. Tourism is another key sector for research, exemplified by the work of Clarke (1, 2, 3, 4) and Godfrey (1, 2, 3, 4) on sustainable tourism. The work by Pepper, particularly on ecological modernisation and the principles of sustainable development (1, 3, 4) and Wilson (1) provides a strong underpinning of theoretical concepts. Elsom's work (1, 2, 3, 4) on air quality management explores an increasingly vital impact type. Other growing research themes include comparative EIA/SEA and sustainable development policy (Marshall 1, 3; Glasson 3; Wilson 2, 3) and GIS and Expert Systems in EIA (Rodriguez-Bachiller 3, 4; Wood 2). In addition to the works cited, the IAU team has produced a range of best selling texts including: Introduction to EIA (UCL Press, 2nd edition 1999); Methods of EIA (UCL Press, 2nd edition 2001); Planning and EIA in Practice (Longmans, 1997); and Practice of SEA (Earthscan, 1996 ).
Our work for the DoE/DETR has contributed to the development of UK EIA policies and procedures for the implementation of the 1999 amended EIA Directive procedures (eg DoE (1996) Changes in the Quality of Environmental Statements for Planning Projects, HMSO; and Glasson (1)). Research on EIA screening procedures was the basis for a DETR workshop for EIA experts in all EU Member States. Current projects for the EC include: development of methodology for the assessment of plans and projects on key Natura 2000 sites; and, with Gibb Environmental, development of EIA and SEA guidance procedures for EU-funded developments in developing and transitional economies.

Planning and Transport Policy Research Group (PTPRG): staffing includes Prof Martin Elson and Peter Headicar (Leaders), Charlotte Coleman, Dr Alan Reeve, Prof James Simmie, Dr Roger Simmonds and Dr Mike Stubbs, plus 10 PhD students. Recent research funding includes: Countryside Agency, DETR, ESRC, Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), Lincoln Institute for Land Policy, London Transport, the National Audit Office, the British Property Federation and Sport England. Here the research focus includes planning policy in the urban fringe and in adjacent rural areas; leisure, sport and recreation; the appraisal and development of national and regional planning policies; and the significant link between transport and land use planning. Planning obligations is another key research area, and more recently there has been important research in innovation and regional development. A sub-group of PTPRG, including inter alia Reeve and Simmonds, focuses on town centre management, heritage and the development of RUDI (the Resource for Urban Design Information).
Key research studies, with considerable policy implications, have been undertaken by Elson's research team on green belt policy, for the JRF (Elson 1); on sport and recreation, for the DETR (Elson 3); on rural development and land use planning, for the RDC (Elson 4); and on planning obligations and the new area of countryside benefits (Elson and Stubbs). Stubbs has also explored the valuable role of mediation in planning, with research in the UK and Australia (Stubbs 1, 2, 3, 4). Research by (Headicar (3, 4) and Coleman (2) for the ESRC, DETR and others, has developed our understanding of transport and new residential developments. Coleman is also undertaking research on green commuter plans (Coleman 3) and on women and transport (Coleman 4). Headicar was commissioned by the ESRC to prepare a scoping report on the new Transport Mobility and Accessibility thematic programme. Reeve has helped to develop RUDI as a website currently averaging over 7,000,000 hits pa and a source for urban design information including peer reviewed materials (Reeve 4). Recent contracts for London Transport, and for the Heritage Lottery Fund, focus on approaches to the evaluation of townscape and other impacts of major urban projects. The £250,000 HLF study is a pioneering longitudinal study of HLF sites throughout the UK and will generate important research findings post 2001. Reeve (1, 2, 3) and Simmonds (1) have also developed a new research strand on town centre management, including security issues.
Linking both the above groups is the re-emergence following government policy of a previous research strength in regional development and planning. The School was successful in winning one of the ESRC Research Seminar Series on Regional Planning and Government in the English Regions (98-00) (Marshall, Glasson, Wilson and Headicar), subsequently reinforced by an ESRC research project (Marshall and Glasson) on Evolving Models of Regional Planning in the English Regions (99-01). Other regional research includes the work by Simmie (1, 2, 3, 4) and Sennett in the ESRC Project on Innovative Clusters and Competitive Cities which complements and builds on the recent EC Regional Innovation and Technology Transfer (RITTS) research project on Oxfordshire (Glasson et al).

Urban Policy and Management Group (UPMG): staffing includes Prof Stephen Ward and Prof Roger Zetter (Leaders), Dr Sue Brownill, Dr Rod Burgess, Prof Georgia Butina-Watson, Dr Jane Darke, Dr Roy Darke, Prof John Gold, Dr Mohamed Hamza, Neil McInroy and Martyn Pearl, plus 18 PhD students. Recent research funding includes: British Council, Council of Europe, DETR, ESRC, EC, Home Office, Housing Corporation, JRF, OXFAM, RTPI, Suzie Lamplugh Trust, and Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation (SADC). The challenges of housing and regeneration, including quality in design and community and participation approaches, form the central foci of the UPMG research programme. This is complemented by significant research activity in tenant participation and management, and in social exclusion, race and gender issues. There is outstanding expertise in planning history and place promotion. A sub-group of UPMG (led by Zetter) focuses on the planning and management of fast urbanising towns and cities in developing and transitional economies. A specific focus has been the challenge of policy making and planning for refugees and asylum seekers, and on the assessment of humanitarian assistance programmes.
The research by Ward (1, 2, 3, 4) and Gold (1, 2, 3) is providing a lead in international research in planning history. Work by Brownill (1) and Darke J (1, 2, 3, 4) has highlighted race and gender issues in regeneration. Brownill's work on local governance (1, 2, 3, 4) builds from her seminal work on the London Docklands. Butina-Watson led a research team which made a major contribution to the DETR study of Quality in Town and Country (Butina-Watson 1); she has also developed an action research community approach to design in the UK and internationally (2, 3). Darke R (2) with Zetter produced an influential study for the RTPI on the role of elected members in planning; guidance was taken up by Nolan's Third Report on standards in public life. Darke R has developed the theme of public participation in planning (3, 4). Zetter has established an outstanding reputation in planning for refugees (Zetter 2, 3) and asylum seekers with funding from OXFAM/SADC for work on Rwanda and the Balkans, and the Housing Corporation and Home Office (with Pearl) for work on the UK (Pearl, 2, 3, 4). Other work by Zetter and Hamza (Egypt) and Burgess (Latin America), supported by the EU and the British Council, has produced key books (Burgess 1, 2) and articles (Zetter 1; Hamza 1, 2) on the impact of globalisation on urban strategies in developing countries.
An international study, which straddles much of our research is the Lincoln Institute (Boston, US) sponsored study of the Global City and its Emerging forms led by Simmonds (2) in collaboration with Hack (MIT/Penn) and with inputs from Rodriguez-Bachiller (2); it provides an authoritative study of changing patterns of urban form in a series of world cities.

The research groups provide the essential framework for both culture and infrastructure, providing a focus for theoretical development, promotion of collaboration and generation of future activity. They also provide support and guidance on the content and management of research, research bids, articles, presentations and other forms of dissemination. School-wide, the research seminar series provides a weekly forum for the presentation and discussion of staff and student research in progress. An annual research students' conference provides a more formal opportunity to present drafts of papers. The School Working Paper Series provides a valuable dissemination facility. Staff edit, and are on the editorial boards of several journals (see RA6). The School has a regular flow of international academic and practice visitors. Much research also feeds into the substantial CPD programme and Research-Practice Fora run by the School each year.
The vibrant community of 40 PhD students, and over 250 Masters students, makes an important contribution to the culture of the School. On a recent (March 2000) ESRC Training Board monitoring visit to the University the School was complimented on the high quality of its PhD research training, Masters' programmes and associated infrastructure for research students: "The excellent teamwork was apparent at all levels coupled to a collective understanding of objectives which supports both staff and students. Students were well integrated and felt very much a part of the research environment". The infrastructure includes both dedicated rooms for research student groups and sub groups (IAU, UPMG etc) with full IT facilities; plus ESRC Mode A Training Programme for both Planning and Urban Design, and access to specialist units on a wide range of Masters' programmes, which link closely to our research groups. The University Research Centre also provides a programme of special training events for the University PhD student community. Students also have access to the resources of the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford. The School Research Centre provides administrative, secretarial and technical support for the research groups, including contract management and monitoring facilities, and publications production. The University Research Training Co-ordinator, provides training for higher degree supervisors. The School has excellent completion rates for higher degree students, including a 100% ESRC rate.

Our staffing policy gives strong School support for research through a variety of mechanisms: the creation and support of synergy in research groups of academic staff, research associates and PhD students; and the management of staff changes to bring forward a new generation of researchers. School support mechanisms include a sabbatical system closely linked to research activity (publications, and PhD completions), workload planning and personal research plans to provide 'space' for research activities, and the appointment of research associates and new teaching/ research staff. Each research group receives funding support to develop a positive mix of staff and PhD students. A 'multiplier' return on the investment is required in terms of external research income, publication output and externally funded PhD students. The School has a growing number of research associates/assistants, and provides support, training and career development, as required by the CVCP Research Concordat.
Since the last RAE, there have been a number of departures, mainly through retirement, including Minay, Macdonald and most recently, Goodey. Hamza, who recently completed a PhD with us also left for a post at Cranfield. Following a strategic reorganisation, experienced academic staff have joined our research groups from the Geography Department in the University - Pepper and Elsom (IAU) and Gold (UPMG)) and from other universities (Simmie PTPRG). In addition, the School has a parallel policy of encouraging young researchers. Reeve and Wood have progressed from PhD completions in the School, and Sennett has joined us from the UCL doctoral programme. Reeve has made major contributions to the development of RUDI, and to new research initiatives in town centre management. Wood has become a very productive member of our IAU team, with a particular focus on GIS in EIA and environmental management. McInroy (UPMG) won one of the RTPI Seedcorn Research Awards for work on urban regeneration, and Sennett is working with Simmie on innovation and regional development. Our policy is to support such new staff inputs into our research groups, with lighter teaching loads and support on research funding bids.
Another strand of our staffing policy is to encourage more staff, not submitted in RAE 1996, to become research active, for example Coleman and Pearl. Coleman has been awarded a DETR Seedcorn Research Award, and Pearl has gained major research funding (Housing Corporation, Home Office), with Zetter, on social exclusion and housing issues related to refugee and asylum seekers. In addition, there are a number of new staff, not submitted here, beginning to make significant research contributions (see RA6c).

Users of this website should note that the information is not intended to be a complete record of all research centres in the UK

Copyright 2002 - HEFCE, SHEFC, ELWa, DEL

Last updated 17 October 2003

[ Home | About the RAE2001 | Results | Submissions | Overview reports | Panels | Guidance for panel members
| Guidance for institutions | Publications  ]