School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape

Staff Profile

Dr David Webb

Lecturer in Town Planning


I am interested in all aspects of planning, governance and local democracy but am especially committed to critical planning research which has the potential to prompt reflection on, and the redirection of, contemporary practices. Planning in the UK today is under great strain, felt in the form of increasingly prescriptive central regulations and less funding to advance social or environmental aims. This poses huge problems for planning as a profession and a learned activity and has the potential to promote routinisation and rule-following as the norm. One important role for research is to situate technical activities within a critical social awareness. Another is to promote a broad and nuanced definition of planning that is capable of embracing much more than core, statutory functions. 

My research and teaching both seek to question what planning has become, and to explore alternatives. I believe firmly in the value of concrete studies of practice, understood as part of wider power relations and changing social phenomena. This is reflected in research agendas focusing on housing, urban renewal, social movements, and institutional struggles. I also believe in the value of detailed technical knowledge and its often pivotal role in achieving social change; I teach core modules including Planning Processes and Development Management, which critically consider such knowledge.

More recently, I have become interested in the need to re-engage planning with politics. 'Rule book' approaches to planning tend to narrow down our ability to assess the cumulative consequences of our actions on the future of places and societies. Democratic approaches to thinking through these issues seem instead to require a more prominent role for political theory, both in directing epistemologies and in giving meaning to our appraisals of how communities, places and institutional possibilities are changing. In the north of England, the particularly severe imposition of austerity demands new responses capable of re-asserting planning's relevance to the big questions of our time.





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.