School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape

Staff Profile

Dr Suzanne Speak

Senior Lecturer in Planning


I am a Senior Lecturer in Planning in the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape at Newcastle University, England.  My research is primarily in developing and emerging countries of Asia, Middle East, Africa and Latin America, where I have developed experience of a range of social and cultural contexts.  I research on issues of housing and urban settlements, informality and urban poverty. In recent years my research interests have diversified to include studying the role of urban planning in enhancing food security in developing countries.  I work regularly with the School of Planning and Architecture in Delhi, India, University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa and OAU, Ile Ife in Nigeria exploring the relationship between urban planning, housing and settlements for low income households.

My teaching, which focuses on globalisation, urban poverty and housing and settlements, is research driven.  I supervise an average of 5 international PhD students at any time, their topics ranging from urban agriculture to homelessness, urban planning informal housing upgrading and Volunteer Geographic Information in stressed contexts. I contribute annually to the School and Faculty Post Graduate Research Student Research Training Programme.

I also undertake consultancy and training work for external agencies on behalf of the University.  I have experience of developing and delivering continuing professional development for policy makers and planners in North Africa and the Middle East and have undertaken consultancy work for a number of governments as well as for the UN.  I was part of a team of people who undertook a study on the state of Iraq cities in 2006 and have since updated that study.


 Postgraduate Teaching

The majority of my teaching is at post graduate level and grows directly out of my research interests and expertise. In particular my teaching focuses on issues of development and urban planning in the developing world. I have developed and taught on modules on Globalisation and Social Justice, Housing and Settlements, Regulatory Frameworks in the Developing World and Participation and Planning in Developing Countries.  Some of these modules are supported by a very successful field trip to India which has now run for 14 years.


Research Interests

I am a qualitative researcher. My research focuses on poverty and inequity in the Global South. In particular I am interested in housing, homelessness and migration and the way these interface with access to the city. I am increasingly interested in the way in which dominant groups lay down perceived acceptable urban(e) behaviour within cities and how this conflicts with the survival strategies and rationales of the urban poor. This has led to a growing interest in urban agriculture and in the way in which the poor are prevented from addressing their most basic needs for food and shelter. As well as continuing my interlinked interests in homelessness, informal settlements and access to the city, I am also working with OAU in Ile Ife, studying the relationship between urban agriculture and urban planning.

I am a member of the United Nations Habitat Partnership Universities Initiative,



2009 British Council Project with Abafemi Owolowo University, Ile Ife, Nigeria, Exploring the relationship between Urban Agriculture and Urban planning

2008/9 Development of a programme of training and professional development on sustainable development.  Commissioned by Middlesbrough Borough council and One North East.  £18,000

2008 Health Impact Assessment of Trinity Square Development Proposal – Gateshead. For Spenhill Plc, £11,000

2007 State of Iraqi Cities Project £17,500.  For UN-Habitat and Ministry of Municipalities, Iraq

2007 Hosting of Ministerial Fact Finding Mission to UK for Minister of Municipalities and senior Urban Professionals for Iraqi Government

2004/5 Evaluation of 3 SRB Programmes in Middlesbrough, Loftus and Skelton.  For Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council.  5 months.  Joint applicant with Banks of the Wear Community Projects Project value £42,000.

2004 A review of the Cities Alliance approach to community-led, pro-poor upgrading settlement upgrading. £9,000  For UN-Habitat.

2004 Study of the barriers to the take up of health and social care services by black and minority ethnic people in Gateshead, for Gateshead Health Improvement Group, 4 months.  Joint applicant with Banks of the Wear Community Projects Project value £7000,

2003 Study of Community Cohesion in Sunderland, for Sunderland City Council, 5 months.  With Banks of the Wear Community Projects Project value £5,500

2002 Evaluation of the environmental and social implications of intensification of shrimp farming in the Sunderbans, Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh.  In collaboration with Kulna University.  Funded by British Council

2001 - 03 Evaluation of the environmental implications of work undertaken through the ‘Golden Jubilee Poverty Alleviation Programme’ India.  In collaboration with the University of Punjab.  Funded by British Council

2000 Development and provision of capacity building for urban regeneration for Egyptian and North African Planners.  Housing and Urban Studies Institute, Cairo

2000 Evaluation of the Standards Fund Grant for Teenage Pregnancy.  DFES, with Department of Sociology and Social Policy University of Newcastle upon Tyne. £107,000 21 months

2002 Best approaches in the education of pregnant young women and young mothers of statutory school age.   Teenage Pregnancy Unit.  with Department of Sociology and Social Policy University of Newcastle upon Tyne. £127,000 – 18 months

1999 Evaluation of ‘Fit for Work’ Single Regeneration Budget Programme in Newham, East London - £35,000 12 months (Sole applicant)

1998 ‘Planning for a Healthy Environment’ - Children and young people’s participation in neighbourhood and community development in Newham and Southwark.  Commissioned by The King’s Fund, London. £50,000 - 2 years (sole applicant)

1997 Marginalised neighbourhoods and business disinvestment in essential services - Joseph Rowntree Foundation Area Regeneration Programme £56,000 - 2 years (Joint applicant with S. Graham)