Global Urban Research Unit

Staff Profile

Professor Tim Townshend

Deputy Head of School and Director of Planning and Urban Design



Tim Townshend is Professor of Urban Design for Health and a member of the Global Urban Research Unit (GURU) in the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape.

Tim has established a national/international profile in interdisciplinary health/built environment work through a steady output of publications that has crossed disciplinary divides. His work has been cited over 1600 times (as at Feb 2015). Of particular note was the 2010 co-edited volume ‘Obesogenic Environments’ attracted contributions from Australia, USA, New Zealand and the Netherlands,  establishing an international context for Tim's work. His contribution to this volume made the case for interdisciplinary approaches to tackle contemporary health issues such as obesity. This is now widely accepted in the fields of public health and urban planning as evidenced by the growing number of interdisciplinary events in recent years. In 2013 the joint congress of the American Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) and Association of European Schools of Planning established a health track for the first time, for which Tim was the first track chair. In 2014 the major epidemiological conference the International Conference on Urban Health (ICUH) had its initial urban planning track, at which Tim was a keynote speaker.  

In the recent past Tim's research has moved beyond obesity to embrace other health and wellbeing issues, for example alcohol consumption, resulting in a major co-authored report for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation with Prof Marion Roberts et al a subsequent series of journal articles and an invitation to join the international scientific committee for the biennial ‘Changing Cities’ conference. Tim is a regular reviewer for journals from both urban planning and health and funding bodies.

Tim's work always attempts to maximise its impact and as such is always policy relevant. He has been a consultant on a series of national reports and policy documents and sits on a number of external committees and panels. He is a co-founding member of the North East Obesogenic Environment Network (NEOeN)

In 2014 his co-authored paper 'Obesogenic environments:exploring the built and food environments' - was the most downloaded article in Perspectives in Public Health - he receives an award from the Royal Society of Public Health in January 2016 in recognition.  


Professional Memberships:

Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts



Research Interests

Urban design and the public realm; the design of sustainable and healthy neighbourhoods; urban design and gay space development.

Other Expertise

Conservation of the cultural built heritage

Postgraduate Supervision

Tim Townshend currently has 5 PhD students

Esteem Indicators

I was invited as a consultee to the following national projects
1) Sustainable Construction and Planning Project undertaken by LSE and funded by Higher Education Council, 2006.
2) Sport England's 'Active Design' Project 2005-6

I have been an invited speaker at the following:
1) The Sustainable Planning and Development Conference, Sept. 2005, Bologna
2) Keynote speaker at Federation of Housing Associations confernce, Galsgow, October 2006.
3) Herriot-Watt public seminar series on Planning October 2006.

I have reviewed articles for a number of international journals including:
Planning Theory and Practice
Urban Policy and Research
Journal of Urban Design
Journal of Planning and Environmental Management
Landscape Research

Memberhsip of committees etc.


Member of the Urban Design Group Education Panel since 1997.

At local/regional level:
I have been a member of Newcastle City Council's 'Planning City Working Group' advisory panel since 2005
A member of Newcastle's PFI Library Design Panel 2005 onwards
Panel member for Newcastle City Council's Lord Mayors Design Awards 2001, 2003, 2005
Panel Member for Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council Design Awards


Undergraduate Teaching

TCP1018 Design Awareness and Communication
TCP3024 Urban Design Option

Postgraduate Teaching

TCP8091 Principles and Practice of Urban Design
TCP8912 Urban Design and Conservation Project
ARC8045 Urban Design Project 1
ARC8063 Urban Design Project 2
ARC8065 European Study Visit