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RTPI appoints consortium of academics to review future challenges to rural planning

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has selected a consortium of prominent academics to investigate the challenges facing planning within rural communities.

The RTPI’s Rural Planning in the 2020s project will consider how rural planning in the UK and Ireland will need to change to deal with the challenges these areas currently face including climate change and flooding.  

Researchers will also investigate how rural communities can meet policy and practice objectives for achieving sustainable development.

The RTPI has selected an academic consortium, led by John Sturzaker FRTPI, professor at the University of Hertfordshire, to conduct the research. The full consortium will include the following members:

  • Professor John Sturzaker, Ebenezer Howard chair of planning, University of Hertfordshire
  • Professor Nick Gallent, professor at the Bartlett School of Planning, University College London
  • Professor Gavin Parker, professor of planning studies, University of Reading
  • Professor Mark Scott, professor of planning and dean of architecture, landscape architecture, planning and environmental policy, University College Dublin
  • Dr Scott Copsey, smart mobility research unit director, University of Hertfordshire
  • Dr Meri Juntti, associate professor of environmental governance, Middlesex University
  • Dr Iqbal Hamiduddin, associate professor in transport planning and housing, The Bartlett School of Planning, University College London
  • Dr Ian Mell, reader in environmental and landscape planning, University of Manchester
  • Dr Neale Blair, associate head of Belfast School of Architecture and the Built Environment, Ulster University
  • Dr Leslie Mabon, lecturer in environmental systems, The Open University
  • Dr Neil Harris, senior lecturer in statutory planning, Cardiff University

The consortium’s findings are expected in May 2022.

Richard Blyth, head of policy, practice and research at RTPI, said: “The challenges that rural communities are facing in the 2020s are wide and varied. The urgent need to tackle and adapt to climate change, as well as to understand and address the short and long-term impacts of the pandemic are not just matters affecting our towns and cities.

“The implications on rural communities are great, and we need to ensure that the planning system can equip rural communities and local authorities with the right tools to meet these challenges head on. We believe that this project will benefit greatly from the wealth of knowledge and expertise of this academic consortium, and we eagerly await their findings and recommendations on this vast and important topic.”

John Sturzaker, professor at the University of Hertfordshire, said: “Myself and the rest of the team are delighted to have been awarded the contract to undertake this timely and important research on behalf of the RTPI.

“Rural communities in the UK and Ireland face some particular challenges, many of which have been thrown into sharp relief by Brexit and COVID-19, and they are often at the sharp end of the impacts of climate change, such as increased flooding.

“In this project we will be exploring how rural communities in the different regions and nations of the UK and Ireland are adapting to these sorts of issues and highlighting examples of interesting and innovative practice.

“As part of the research we will be carrying out roundtables and other forms of engagement to hear from those working on the ground in rural areas. As a fellow of the RTPI who has worked with rural communities for my whole career, I am personally very happy that the Institute has commissioned this research, and am excited to see what we find”.

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