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Dr Sue Brownill

BA Hons, PHD

Reader in Urban Policy and Governance; Postgraduate Research Tutor

School of the Built Environment

Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment

Sue Brownill

Phone number: 01865 483877


Location: Gipsy Lane

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.

Sues teaching interests include 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 and research philosophy and methodology.

Modules taught

Neighbourhood Regeneration and Community Planning

The Philosophy of Research

Qualitiative Research Methods

Cities and Society

People Cities and Diversity


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 and Social Networks amongst Refugees in Coventry.

My research interests focus on how planning and regeneration can both involve people and promote more socially sustainable and equitable places. I have 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. My 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. I have also researched the delivery of affordable housing both through the planning system and other community-led mechanisms as.  A key theme in my 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 group membership

Sue is a member of the Spatial Planning Research Group in the School of the Built Environment.

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


Further information

Ways of Neighbouhood Knowing and Working;


Healthy Urban Mobility


  • Brownill S, Bradley Q, Ed., Localism and Neighbourhood Planning; Power the the People?, Policy Press (2017)
    ISBN: 978-1447329503
  • Brownill S, Bradley Q, Ed., Localism and neighbourhood planning: power to the people?, Policy Press (2017)
    ISBN: 978-14473-2950-3
  • Brownill S, London docklands: reflections on regeneration, Routledge (2012)
    ISBN: 9780415256223
  • Brownill, S, Developing London's Docklands; Another Great Planning Disaster?, Paul Chapman (1990)
    ISBN: 1-85396-098-5

Journal articles

  • Brownill S, O'Hara G, 'From planning to opportunism? Re-examining the creation of the London Docklands Development Corporation'
    Planning Perspectives 30 (4) (2015) pp.537-570
    ISSN: 0266-5433 eISSN: 0266-5433
    Abstract Website
  • Brownill S, Cho Y, 'Time to Rebalance Housing Numbers and Affordability'
    Town and Country Planning -London- Town and Country Planning Association- 84 (11) (2015) pp.503-507
    ISSN: 0040-9960 eISSN: 0040-9960
  • Brownill S, Keivani R, Pereira G, 'Olympic Legacies and City Development Strategies in London and Rio; Beyond the Carnival Mask?'
    International Journal of Urban Sustainable Development 5 (2) (2013) pp.111-131
    ISSN: 1946-3138 eISSN: 1946-3138
    Abstract Website
  • Brownill S, Parker G, 'Why bother with good works? The relevance of public participation(s) in planning in a post-collaborative era'
    Planning Practice and Research 25 (3) (2010) pp.275-282
    ISSN: 0269-7459 eISSN: 0269-7459
    Abstract Website
  • Brownill S, 'The dynamics of participation: modes of governance and increasing participation in planning'
    Urban Policy and Research 27 (4) (2009) pp.357-375
    ISSN: 0811-1146 eISSN: 0811-1146
    Abstract Website
  • Brownill S, Carpenter J, 'Governance and 'integrated' planning: the case of sustainable communities in the Thames Gateway, England'
    Urban Studies 46 (2) (2009) pp.251-274
    ISSN: 0042-0980 eISSN: 0042-0980
    Abstract Website
  • Carpenter J, Brownill S, 'Approaches to democratic involvement: widening community engagement in the English planning system'
    Planning Theory and Practice 9 (2) (2008) pp.227-248
    ISSN: 1464-9357 eISSN: 1464-9357
    Abstract Website
  • Brownill S, Carpenter J, 'Increasing participation in planning: Emergent experiences of the reformed planning system in England'
    Planning Practice and Research 22 (4) (2007) pp.619-634
    ISSN: 0269-7459 eISSN: 0269-7459
  • Brownill S, Carpenter J, 'Participation and planning: Dichotomies, rationalities and strategies for power'
    Town Planning Review 78 (4) (2007) pp.401-428
    ISSN: 0041-0020 eISSN: 0041-0020
  • Thomas H, Stirling T, Brownill S, Razzaque K, 'Locality, Urban Governance and Contested Meanings of Place'
    Area 28 (2) (1996) pp.186-198
    ISSN: 0004-0894 eISSN: 0004-0894
  • Brownill S, Razzaque K, Stirling T, Thomas H, 'Local Governance and the Racialisation of Urban Policy in the Uk: the Case of Urban Development Corporations'
    Urban Studies 33 (8) (1996) pp.1337-1355
    ISSN: 0042-0980 eISSN: 0042-0980
    Abstract Website
  • BROWNILL S, HALFORD S, 'Understanding Womens Involvement in Local-politics - How Useful Is a Formal Informal Dichotomy'
    Political Geography Quarterly 9 (1990) pp.396-414
    ISSN: 0260-9827 eISSN: 0260-9827
  • Brownill S, 'The people's plan for the Royal Docks: Some contradictions in popular planning'
    Planning Practice and Research 2 (4) (1988) pp.15-21
    ISSN: 0269-7459 eISSN: 0269-7459

Book chapters

  • Brownill S, 'Assembling localism: Practices of Assemblage and Building the "Big Society" in Oxfordshire, England' in Rydin Y, Tate L (ed.), 5 Assembling localism, Routledge (2016)
    ISBN: 9781138886407
  • Brownill S, 'Just Add Water: Waterfront Regeneration as a Global Phenomenon' in Leary ME, McCarthy J (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Urban Regeneration, Routledge (2013)
    ISBN: 9780415539043
    Abstract Website
  • Brownill S, 'London docklands revisited: The dynamics of waterfront development ' in Transforming urban waterfronts: fixity and flow, Routledge (2010)
    ISBN: 9780415874939
    Abstract Website
  • Brownill S, 'Selling the inner city: regeneration and place marketing in London’s Docklands' in Gold JR, Ward SV (ed.), Selling the inner city: regeneration and place marketing in London’s Docklands, John Wiley & Sons (1994)
    ISBN: 978-0471948346
  • Brownill S, 'The Docklands experience: locality and community in London' in Imrie, R and Thomas, H (ed.), The Docklands experience: locality and community in London, Paul Chapman (1993)
    ISBN: 1-85396-207-4
  • Brownill, S, 'The People's Plan for the Royal Docks; Some Contradictions in Popular Planning' in Radical Planning Initiatives, Gower (1990)
    ISBN: 0 566 05778 6

Website content

  • Brownill S, Keivani R, de Melo EO, 'People’s right to the city has been eroded by mega-event evictions in Rio de Janiero'


  • Brownill S, review of Port Cities - Dynamic Landscapes and Global Networks, in Planning Perspectives 27 (2013) pp.483-485
    ISSN: 0266-5433 eISSN: 0266-5433
  • Brownill S, review of Urban Regeneration, Community Power and the (in)significance of Race, in Housing Studies 20 (2005) pp.1011-1012
    ISSN: 0267-3037 eISSN: 0267-3037
  • Brownill S, review of Poverty Street: the Dynamics of Neighbourhood Decline and Renewal, in Urban Studies 41 (2004) pp.1613-1614
    ISSN: 0042-0980 eISSN: 0042-0980
  • Brownill S, review of Unequal City: London in the Global Arena, in Housing Studies 19 (2004) pp.673-674
    ISSN: 0267-3037 eISSN: 0267-3037
  • Brownill S, review of Partnerships and Regimes: the Politics of Urban Regeneration in the Uk, in Urban Studies 40 (2003) pp.646-647
    ISSN: 0042-0980 eISSN: 0042-0980
  • Brownill S, review of Neighbourhood Planning and Community-based Development: the Potential and Limits of Grassroots Action, in Housing Studies 16 (2001) pp.257-259
    ISSN: 0267-3037 eISSN: 0267-3037
  • Brownill S, review of Rising in the East: the Regeneration of East London - Butler,t, Rustin,m, in Urban Studies 34 (1997) pp.1320-1322
    ISSN: 0042-0980 eISSN: 0042-0980

Other publications

  • Brownill S, Cho Y, Keivani R, Nase I, Downing L, Valler D, Whitehouse N, Penny Bernstock, 'Rethinking planning obligations: balancing housing numbers and affordability'
    ISSN: eISSN:
  • Butina Watson G, Carpenter J, Brownill S, Durning B, Reeve A, 'Thames Gateway Evidence Review'
    ISSN: eISSN:

Areas of expertise

Sue's areas of expertise include community involvement in planning, affordable housing delivery, community-led housing, waterfront regeneration and achieving social sustainability in major urban projects.

Membership of professional bodies

Sue is a member of the Town and Country Planning Association. She has 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. She was on the judging panel for the Guangzhou Urban Sustainability Awards in 2015.

Other experience

Before working at Brookes 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.