Professor Sue Brownill

BA, PhD, MRTPI (Associate)

Professor of Urban Policy and Governance

School of the Built Environment


Sue Brownill is a Reader in Urban Policy and Governance whose research and teaching interests focus on the interaction of communities with urban planning and regeneration. She is also one of the Postgraduate Research Tutors for the School with responsibilities for leading the PhD programme and co-ordinating and delivering doctoral research methods training. She currently chairs the Faculty's Doctoral Training Programme which provides advanced research methods training and support. Sue combines her academic interests with involvement with community and housing groups. She was been a board member of Oxford Citizens Housing Association and currently Chairs the Oxfordshire Community Land Trust. Before moving to Oxford she worked with community organisations in London's Docklands.

Areas of expertise

  • Community involvement in planning
  • Affordable housing delivery
  • Community-led housing
  • Waterfront regeneration
  • Achieving social sustainability in major urban projects.

Teaching and supervision


Modules taught

  • Neighbourhood Regeneration and Community Planning
  • The Philosophy of Research
  • Qualitiative Research Methods
  • Cities and Society
  • People Cities and Diversity

Teaching interests

  • Public participation in planning and regeneration
  • Neighbourhood regeneration and planning
  • Critical perspectives on urban policy
  • International waterfront regeneration with a focus on London Docklands and East London
  • Urban governance in theory and practice
  • Urban social theory
  • Urban diversity and equalities
  • Research philosophy and methodology


Recent and current topics supervised include:

  • Mega Events and Urban Displacement in Brazil, South Africa and London
  • Co-creation and Urban Stigmatization in Rio
  • Community Renewable Energy in Egypt
  • Family Travel Behaviour and Urban Mobility
  • Community-Led Housing
  • Squatter Settlement Upgrading Strategies in Nairobi
  • Social Networks amongst Refugees in Coventry

Research Students

Name Thesis title Completed
Oscar Natividad Puig The role of multi-scalar networks in participatory urban interventions addressing socio-spatial inequality: an actor- network perspective Active


Sue's research interests focus on how planning and regeneration can both involve people and promote more socially sustainable and equitable places. She has carried out a range of research projects into public participation in planning and regeneration with a recent focus on neighbourhood planning, a new community right to draw up statutory land-use plans. Her research has also critically explored the possibilities of major regeneration schemes to address social sustainability focusing on international waterfront regeneration with a particular emphasis on London Docklands and, more recently, Olympic legacies in London and Rio.

She has also researched the delivery of affordable housing both through the planning system and other community-led mechanisms. A key theme in her research is to work with local communities as reflected in two recent projects on ways of neighbourhood knowing and using co-cretation to challenge the stigmatisation of urban communities. 

Research grants and awards

Sue has worked on projects funded by a variety of soruces including Research Councils, central and local government and charities and NGOs including:

  • Housing Precarity; Understanding the Structured Stories of Young People's Housing Histories in Oxford: Brookes CRF (2017-18)
  • RISE; EU funded project on using co-creation to challenge the stigmatisation of low income neighbourhoods (2017-2020)
  • Healthy Urban Mobility; ESRC project exploring the links between health and mobility in low to medium income communities in the UK and Brazil (2016-2019).
  • Ways of  Neighbourhood Knowing and Working, ESRC seminar series (2015-17)
  • Rethinking Planning Obligations. Joseph Rowntree Organisation (2013-2015)
  • Neighbouhood Planning: British Academy (2013-14) 
  • Olymic Legacies in London and Rio; Oxford Brookes CRF and Santander Research Fund (2012-2016)
  • Reflections on Regeneration; British Academy funded project on the continuing regeneration of London Docklands and its national and international resonances. (2010-11)
  • Olympics Legacy Literature Review – funding by the Greater London Authority (2010)
  • Brazil-UK Network on Governance for Sustainable Urban Futures – funded by Centre for Cities, Oxford University (2010-2011)
  • Thames Gateway Evidence Review – funded by ODPM (2006)
  • Evaluation of National Planning Aid- funded by RTPI (2003-2006)
  • Member of Steering group and evaluator of Cowley Road Matters public consultation exercise – funded by East Oxford Action (2004)

Research projects

Sue's current and recent research projects reflect her wide interest in urban issues. They inlcude

  • Precarious Housing; this project which will be led by Sue starting in 2017 will use the concept of precarity to explore the experiences of housing of a range of young people in Oxford. It will draw on digitial ethnogrpahies to reveal the structured stories of the interplay of the housing system with people's lives and their hosuing experiences.
  • Co-Creation:  the aim of this project which Sue will jointly lead is to build an international and interdisciplinary network to exchange knowledge and understanding about urban disadvantage in the EU and Latin America, developing a new Co-Creation method to address stigmatization.
  • Healthy Urban Mobility; Sue is a member of a team on this cross-national project which  aims to draw out the ways that mobility can affect health and wellbeing at an individual and collective level, particularly among low income and excluded groups. The project, by bringing a multidisciplinary perspective to these issues with a particular focus on their social dimensions, will contribute to the development of more equitable transport policies to enhance health, wellbeing and mobility among all sections of the urban population.
  • Rethinking Planning Obligations; this project which finished in 2015 and was led by Sue explored the ways in which the plannign system can deliver more affordable housing. It focused in particular on the role of planning obligations (s106 agreements) and the impact of chages in the planning system on their ability to deliver affordable homes. The report put forward a number of recommendations for ways to deliver more affordable homes through the plannign system and other mechanisms

Research impact

Sue's research for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on afforbale housing and planning obligations wsa cited by a range of reports into ways to increase the delivery of affordable housing including the House Of Lords Economics Affiars Committee into housing, The London Housing Commission and the Lyons Review of Housing. She also presented to the Greater London Assembly and to a series of events organised for practicing planners by the RTPI.

Her work on neighbourhood planning through her own research and the ESRC seminar series has also been drawn on by the Department of Communities and Local Government and she has worked closely with neighbourhood groups in Oxfordshire and London.

Her joint article with Prof Glen O'Hara from the Dept of History at Brookes won the Planning Perspectives journal prize for the best paper published between 2014 and 2016.



Projects as Principal Investigator, or Lead Academic if project is led by another Institution

  • Spaces of HOPE. The Hidden History of Community Led Planning in the UK (01/01/2021 - 30/11/2023), funded by: Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), funding amount received by Brookes: £329,818


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Professional information

Memberships of professional bodies

  • Member of the Town and Country Planning Association.
  • Presented evidence to the Public Administration Committee of the House of Commons on public consultation and was a part of a DCLG round table group on neighbourhood planning.
  • Member of the judging panel for the Guangzhou Urban Sustainability Awards in 2015.

Further details

More information about Sue Brownill research:

Other experience

Before working at Oxford Brookes University, Sue was a research fellow oat the Bartlett School of Architecture and Planning, UCL, London. She also worked for the Docklands Forum, a community organisation involved in the regernation of London's Docklands. Sue combines her academic interests with involvement with community and housing groups. She was been a board member of Oxford Citizens Housing Association and currently Chairs the Oxfordshire Community Land Trust.