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Research grants

RTPI Early Career Small Research Grants


This grant aims to support PhD students or Researchers within five years of receiving their PhDs to gain experience of leading research projects that have an impact on planning practice and/or planning policy.

Level of funding – up to £ 10,000

Number of awards for 2023-24 – 4

Duration of funding – up to 12 months

Eligibility – based at a university offering accredited RTPI courses; within 5 years of receiving their PhD or equivalent professional training

Deadline for Application – Sunday 13 August 2023 23:59 

4 awards of up to £10 000 in value each, will be awarded, tenable for up to 12 months. Research grants are funded by £5000 from each of the English regions of the RTPI listed with the topics below, which have been developed in collaboration with the funding regions. We encourage potential candidates to consider the topic list below and to frame their research proposal in response to one of these topics. Proposals should include a case study or focus located geographically within at least one of the English regions specified with the title of the research topic.

Benefits include the chance to chance to disseminate their work through RTPI channels including Planning Research Matters and RTPI blogs. Successful candidates will be announced at the 2023 Planning Research Conference in Glasgow.

Applications for collaborative or individual projects are equally welcome but the principal investigator (PI) must be based in/employed by an RTPI accredited planning school or must be a member of the RTPI (excluding affiliate membership).

Further information on past winners 2022-23 Early Career Research competition winners

You can also view a blog published by Dr Andrew Hoolachan, one of our past winners who was awarded funds to understand how rain affects everyday life in cities and the impact this has on planning practice. 



Timescales in planning (South-East and RTPI research fund)

Timescales and duration are understudied within planning and the planning system which tends to be understood through questions of space and geography. This call seeks to promote research concerning time and temporality in the planning system in Britain today. Possible topics include:

  • Given the rise of interest in resilience as an intellectual framework, how might conceptions of sustainable development change to accommodate concerns over building life-cycles and embodied carbon? How can planning decisions accommodate uncertainty over the future of society?
  • Policy uncertainty can result in delays to development. How can policy consultation take place without slowing down delivery, particularly amidst the need for greater housing delivery?
  • In the context of ‘Extensions of Time’, the actual LPA timelines from submission to determination amidst planning officer shortages and resource cuts.
  • Where are the real bottlenecks in housing delivery? Outline vs. implementable planning permission, and whether the planning system could do more to release land for housebuilding.
  • Whether a consistent or standardised delegation scheme across LPAs could improve the timeliness of planning decisions.

Car-use and residential density preferences in young people: affordability or lifestyle changes (West Midlands and London)

It is often asserted that young adults are learning to drive later than previously. At the same time, demographic data on new high-density city-centre apartments (many of which are increasingly ‘car-free’ i.e. without onsite parking provision) shows a strong skew towards younger age-groups. Research is lacking on the interplay between young people’s preferred travel modes, and their residential-locational preferences; this call seeks to fund thorough evidence-gathering on this topic. To what extent is the shift young people’s travel preferences away from car use (and/or car ownership) confined to specific urban areas? Does this result from affordability, or is it a deliberate lifestyle change? Considering long-term demographic projections, to what extent should a reduction in car use/ car ownership over time be expected?

Inclusive representation in community planning (North East and East of England)

The last has seen attempts to implement community planning in developments, local plans, NSIPs etc. However, evaluation of the success of this ambition is lacking. This call seeks to support research utilising indicators and/or metrics through which the scale and quality of community engagement can be evaluated. We are interested in the over/under-representation of diverse groups in the participation process. Focus may be on:

  • Housing tenure groups (social housing tenants, tenants in HMOs, owner-occupiers etc.)
  • Ethnicity groups
  • Disability groups
  • Age-specific people (e.g. young people)

The planning and urban design implications of counter-terrorism measures in the public realm under proposed ‘Protect Duty’ obligations (South West and RTPI research fund)

An important aspect of urban design in the public realm is the ‘designing out’ of crime through ‘natural surveillance’, ‘defensible space’ and security-oriented architecture. These planning and design considerations are expected to be strengthened by the incoming ‘Protect Duty’ or ‘Martyn’s Law’, for which the Home Office concluded a public consultation in 2021. This legislation aims to make the public safer in publicly accessible locations, such as retail malls, office complexes and other public places by strengthening security requirements on them (Government response, 2 May, 2023). Local planning authorities might be required to ensure that proportionate security measures are considered in the design for new builds and refurbishments and that such policies are included in planning guidance and local plans (Home Office, 2021, p.26). This research would assess the implications of these potential proposals on planning policy and development, the effect on pedestrian movement and traffic use in the public realm, and would identify ‘best practices’ from around the UK and beyond.


You can apply if you are an early career researcher defined as one of the following:

  • PhD student enrolled in a university offering accredited RTPI courses.
  • Researcher within 5 years of receiving their PhD or equivalent professional training (measured from the date of successful PhD viva to the point of the RTPI’s receipt of your application) based in a university offering accredited RTPI courses.
  • PhD student or researcher within 5 years of receiving their PhD or equivalent (measured from the date of successful PhD viva to the point of the RTPI’s receipt of your application) who is not enrolled in a university offering accredited RTPI courses but who is a member of the RTPI (excluding affiliate membership).

*     Please note that you can apply if you have spent time away from research within the last 5 years (for example a career break, maternity leave, or long-term sick leave). We'll allow for this when we consider your application.

Level of award and description

The maximum grant is £10,000 over 12 months. Applications should demonstrate that RTPI funds are sought for a clearly defined, discrete piece of research which will have an identifiable outcome.

Funds are available to facilitate data collection, data analysis and to enable the advancement of research through workshops or conferences. Funds may be utilised to carry out additional research activities arising under already-funded research schemes (e.g. ESRC or UKRI funding).

When grants are aimed at topping-up existing funds they cannot be used solely to support attendance at conferences or workshops. Grants are not intended to support interchange between UK and overseas scholars where there is no planned programme of activity to meet a clearly specified research objective. Applicants are encouraged to seek additional funding from their own institutions (or academic departments).


Application process

Please fill in all required fields and send as attachment (Word Document or Pdf) to [email protected]

Applicant details

  • Title*
  • First name*
  • Surname*
  • Email*
  • Telephone number
  • Details of any previously awarded RTPI Grants or Awards*

Your affiliation

  • Job title / position*
  • Name of Higher Education Institution (HEI)/ Department*
  • Country*
  • RTPI membership number (when applicable)
  • RTPI membership category

Full Names/Institution of any other team members

  • Please add the name, email address, telephone number, RTPI membership number and affiliation of any other team members here.


  • Is your project already funded by another funding body/HEI or Department?*
  • If so, please name the funding bodies/HEI/School or Department funding your project.
  • What is the total value of the grant that you have been allocated to carry out your project
  • When did you start receiving funding for your project?

Application details

  • Title of the research project*

  • Timings of the research*

  • Summary* (max 1500 words)
    Please provide details of research and the advances it is hoped to make on planning practice and/or policy and the outputs that will be produced at the end of the 12-month grant period

  • Brief overview of costs, budget and details about the role that each member of the research team will play (if more than one)* (max 1500 words)


Assessment criteria

Applications will be assessed primarily (though not solely) by reference to the research objectives set out in the 2022-2024 RTPI Research Strategy. Applicants are strongly encouraged to demonstrate how their proposed research project meets the five objectives of the 2022-24 RTPI Research Strategy:



- Please specify under which topic your research project falls into. [please refer to the list of topics specified above]

- How does the proposed research project address important issues faced by practitioners, policymakers and wider society?



- How does the proposed research project advance knowledge across sectors? How will it help delivering information and expertise required   to policymakers and practitioners to deliver positive planning outcomes?


Promoting the value of planning

- How does the proposed research project advocate the importance of planning and planners as essential to address current challenges?


Improving Planning Practice

- How will the proposed research project enhance skills within the profession and beyond?


Advancing Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI)

- How does the proposed project ensure that EDI is integrated at every stage of the research process?


For further information please email [email protected]