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Dr David Webb
Lecturer in Town Planning

My academic interests are informed by my experiences of planning practice and of subsequent developments to the way in which planning and development activities are governed and circumscribed. These experiences suggest to me that the increasingly constrained and routinised nature of planning practice is the biggest threat to our ability to face up to pressing social and environmental issues, as well as resulting in local environments that are often poorly managed and not developed according to the kind of values we should aspire to. As a result, I have less interest in normative ideals of what planning should be about and much more interest in the power-plays leading up to the dominance of the actual ideas that drive planning. We need to know what is holding back the realisation of more progressive forms of planning.

My overall research focus lies on the conditions which constrain and stimulate the ways in which town planners and local polities are able to pursue their visions for cities and places. I am also interested in the terrain on which those approaches can be contested and the forces which lead to certain strategies becoming dominant. This interest is prompted by a belief in the value of experimenting locally with alternative and more progressive approaches to place shaping. It can be broken down into three sub areas:

Understanding forms of public-private-third sector interaction in governance

Recent publications have looked at the construction, migration and implementation of discourses derived from economic analysis and examined the way they were used to govern organisations in the public and private sectors. It also looked at the changing organisational make-up of housing associations in relation to these issues.

I am currently contributing to a national evaluation of the community grants element of the government’s £100 million empty homes programme. The research for the chapter involved undertaking interviews and collecting data on ‘self help’ social enterprises and co-operatives with the potential to offer innovative approaches to housing and regeneration.

The history of planning and governance and the conditions under which change occurs

My teaching embraces the political and historical origins of planning practices and their regulation. In relation to this I lead the module ‘planning processes’. These interests inform a chapter recently rewritten for the text book ‘Town and Country Planning in the UK’ (fifteenth edition) discussing the political origins and shifts in thinking which have marked out regeneration practices during the Twentieth and Twenty First Century.

The challenges of impact and the theory-practice relationship

I have worked with a range of organisations to produce, disseminate and discuss research findings, including professional organisations, community organisations, consultees and the Planning Inspectorate. My PhD thesis was conducted in partnership with English Heritage and was referred to in the national press.




Module leader: 

TCP1014 Planning Processes

TCP3051 Development Management 

Additional teaching interests in planning skills, theory and practice and in historical and current aspects of urban regeneration.