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Early Career grant awards December 2022

The RTPI has launched a new research strategy. A key part of the new approach is to strength our relationship with accredited planning schools. This involves us both spreading the good news about research they are doing, and also supporting early career researchers, both in planning schools and elsewhere. (The role of non academic research is exciting.)

Therefore earlier in the autumn we issued a call for applications for early career researchers to receive funding from us for a year’s worth of planning research. I am pleased to say we have awarded three grants for the 2022-23 period.

The rain it raineth (nearly) every day

We have awarded a grant to Andrew Hoolachan of the University of Glasgow planning school to look at “Rain”. This proposal seeks to place local climate conditions at the heart of local plan-making and development management using a ‘Citizen Scientist’ methodology, focusing on the case of Glasgow as a pilot project.

The project seeks to look at urban rainfall in cities in a holistic manner to fundamentally rethink spatial planning in the city rather than viewing it merely as a risk to be managed. It will advocate that national-level planning guidance should allow for greater flexibility of planning policy at the local level to enable a better reflection of local socio-environmental contexts. The location of the pilot is well chosen, with Glasgow having 1370mm of rain per year spread over 181 days (or half the entire year).

Andrew says: “This award will help me to lay the foundation for more ambitious research grants in the future, and set up a pipeline of research publications, both of which are crucial to my academic promotion. The research theme allows me to conduct research that will support planning practice, ensuring that my research has policy-relevance and local impact”.

Meanwhile we look forward to working with Andrew and making the links to our own emerging work on Water.

Education, education, education

A project to identify the extent to which accredited planning programmes within the UK and Canada are providing methods courses adequate for today’s contemporary planning profession has been awarded a grant. It will also evaluate the provision of advanced urban analytics within planning methods training and whether this provision is keeping pace with the demands of the profession.

Grant recipient, Meadhbh Maguire, of Highland Council, says:

“I am delighted that my research has been awarded a RTPI early career small research grant and want to thank the RTPI and the review panel for their support. Research supported by the RTPI has made an immeasurable contribution to the planning profession and this project contributes by examining the incorporation of Big Data and advanced urban analytics withing accredited planning curricula. The project fosters an international comparison of the UK and Canada, so that we may learn where planning education is heading with regards to changing data landscapes and ‘smart city’ initiatives, and the role that planners are anticipated to have within these. With the support provided by the RTPI early career small research grant, I look forward to commencing this project in earnest.”

To drive, or not to drive…

We have awarded a grant to Andrew Ivins at Cardiff University to explore the interaction of policy and personal experience of a diverse sample of people whether car-dependent, carfree or car-less. This study will identify the factors that push citizens to car dependency and what factors enable them to move away from it.

By visualising the findings in a framework of car dependency, how current policies and interventions interact with the push/pull qualities influencing individual decisions will become clear. As a result, more targeted interventions and better means of communicating or relating policy to the public may become clear. Existing RTPI research on the extent that new planning permissions in England encourage car dependency forms a useful background to this work.

Grant recipient, Andrew Ivins, Cardiff University, says:

“The impact of being awarded an RTPI Early Career Small Research Grant is difficult to overstate. On a personal level it is a tremendous confidence boost while working through a PhD. At a professional level it is a big step towards solidifying a career in planning research, and importantly, it provides an opportunity to lead a project with potential real world impact funded by an internationally recognised professional body.”

Into the New year

These projects will be running during 2023 and each is expected to provide some initial results at the UK and Ireland Planning Research Conference in Glasgow in September, where the RTPI will be fully represented. We will also be hosting the annual Planning Research Awards at this event. 

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