UWE planning graduate wins national award from RTPI for study

Issue date: 08 October 2014

Jennifer Angus

Jennifer Angus, a graduate from UWE Bristol's MSc in Urban Planning, has received a prestigious award from the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

Jennifer's thesis was selected as the winning entry in the Excellence in Spatial Planning Research student category.

The dissertation investigated whether 'meanwhile' uses have been embraced by English local authorities as a legitimate approach to planning and urban development in uncertain economic and social conditions. 'Meanwhile' uses, also referred to as temporary, interim or pop-up uses, involve the conscious utilisation of vacant land or buildings as an alternative to leaving spaces stagnant and unused.

This could include the use of empty high street shops or vacant, brownfield sites awaiting long-term redevelopment. Though largely viewed as a stopgap solution, the study highlighted examples of innovative practice with a particular focus on Bristol City Council, whilst noting opportunities to take a more strategic approach to the practice in order to harness its full potential to activate cities and their under-used spaces.

The judges said it was an original and innovative submission on a subject which is an emerging policy issue.

Dr Michael Short, a senior lecturer in Planning and Urban Conservation at UWE who supervised Jennifer, said, “The award is well deserved, as Jennifer's work is both ground-breaking and innovative. The research is not only of the best academic standard, it also provides crucial evidence for planners and the ever-changing planning system to address.”

Jennifer received her award at the annual UK and Ireland Planning Research Conference which attracts academics and practitioners from across the world. Staff from UWE Bristol actively contributed to a series of research streams by delivering some wide ranging papers.

She said, “It's great to receive this award, which I hope will allow me to highlight how important it is for planners, developers and local authorities to consider the benefits of adopting new approaches, not only to planning but also their overall approach to the cultivation of our cities, towns and regions.

“Meanwhile uses have the potential to be so much more than stopgap solutions. If taken seriously, they can help reframe how we think about and use urban space to greater effect and for the benefit of all.”

As a city, Bristol is well-known for its activity in this area. Recent examples include activities in the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone, around Temple Meads Rail Station, which has hosted Creative Common, a temporary circus and performance space, and The Severn Project, an urban agricultural project which grows and sells salad to restaurants across Bristol, helping those who are socially excluded access employment and training opportunities in the process.

The city also boasts an impressive track record of opening up its empty buildings to allow social, artistic and cultural initiatives to thrive, as documented through the This Made City website, an archive of Bristol's creative use of empty buildings from 2005-2014.

Jennifer now works as a Graduate Planner with GVA and will be speaking at the RTPI Young Planners Conference, which will be held in Bristol on 24 and 25 October.

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