Dr Lee Crookes

School of Geography and Planning

University Teacher

+44 114 222 6910

Full contact details

Dr Lee Crookes
School of Geography and Planning
Room F15
Geography and Planning Building
Winter Street
S3 7ND

I was awarded a BA (Econ) in Government and Social Administration from the University of Manchester in 1994. I then spent three years with Bradford Metropolitan District Council as a graduate trainee accountant (1994-97) before moving to the South Yorkshire Joint Secretariat where I spent four years working as a Policy Officer.

I subsequently moved to Canada and returned to undergraduate study, gaining a BA in Geography from Concordia University, Montreal in 2004.  I then moved on to postgraduate work in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the University of Sheffield, completing a MA in Planning Research (2005) and a PhD (awarded 2011).

Whilst writing up my PhD, I was appointed as a Research Associate in the Department of Sociology at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2009-10. This was followed by a research post in the Department of Geography at Durham University in 2010-11.  I was appointed as a Teaching Associate in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the University of Sheffield in September 2011.

I am currently the Level 1 year tutor for undergraduate students in the Department. Working with Dr Andy Inch, I also helped to establish and co-ordinate the Westfield Action Research Project (WARP), an ongoing community-university engagement between the Department and Westfield Big Local, a group of residents from a neighbourhood in south-east Sheffield who have received £1m of Big Local funding to invest in making their community a better place over a 10 year period.

In 2015 I became a University of Sheffield Senate Fellow having been awarded, along with Tracey Hawley-Kirkby, Andy Inch, Jason Slade and Marion Oveson, a Senate Award for Learning and Teaching for WARP, in the category of Collaborative Activities.

Research interests

I grew up in Sheffield and my early education took place against the background of the 1984-5 Miners’ strike, the decline of the steel industry and the rise of municipal socialism. From this formative experience, I developed a commitment to social justice and an enduring interest in the challenges faced by working class people and communities.

Positioning myself as a critical geographer/planner, I am interested in using qualitative methods to explore contemporary issues related to housing, class, gentrification, urban regeneration and associated conflicts over the meaning and use of space.  

My PhD research examined the development of the Housing Market Renewal (HMR) programme and its implementation and impact in three urban areas in the north of England. Adopting an ethnographic approach, my research examined people’s relationship with place and home in so-called ‘low demand’ areas and investigated resistance to HMR. I also investigated the impacts of displacement and housing demolition on residents whose homes were subject to compulsory purchase.

Current research

Within the context of a broad ambition to develop an understanding of planning ‘from below’, that is, from the perspective of those who bear the individual and social costs of urban development, I am keen to extend and develop my doctoral research by shifting the focus of gentrification research from displacement to matters of emplacement whilst further examining the politics and geography of ‘home’, attachment to place and the personal and social costs of displacement.

Current and planned developments of my research agenda include work in the following areas:

  • compulsory purchase orders, public inquiries and compensation for home loss;
  • the role of territorial stigmatisation in policy-making;
  • the exclusion of local knowledge and emotion from planning decision-making;
  • neighbourhood planning;
  • self-help housing;
  • planning and health.

Research projects

  • Making air pollution in Sheffield visible (Research Councils UK)
  • Designing for Wellbeing in Later Life (DWELL) (Engineering & Physical Sciences Research)
  • Rotherham MBC Strategic Housing Market Assessment (Rotherham MBC)

Journal articles


Book reviews

Research group

PhD Supervision

I am currently Primary Supervisor for the following PhD student:

  • Svenja Timmins, Territorial Stigma and Youth in Europe’s Steel Cities: Sheffield and Duisburg in Comparative Perspective

I am interested in supervising PhD research on gentrification, critical housing studies, community planning and planning & health.

Teaching interests

I enjoy teaching planning because it provides ample scope and flexibility to approach complex economic, social and environmental challenges – so-called ‘wicked’ problems - through a range of disciplinary lenses including human geography, sociology, architecture, urban design, environmental psychology, politics, law and ethics.

In my teaching I resist excessive abstraction, preferring to encourage students to apply theory to real-world issues and Sheffield’s emerging post-industrial economy and its changing culture and landscape presents students with several interesting and relevant case-studies.

Drawing upon my local knowledge and contacts, I am committed to providing students with opportunities to develop their skills and knowledge by spending time outside the classroom and engaging with local communities.

Informed by my research activity and the aforesaid commitment to social justice, much of my teaching is also concerned with raising students’ awareness of how ordinary people experience the planning system and I employ a range of techniques and teaching materials to achieve this.

Teaching activities

I am involved in the teaching of the following modules:

  • TRP130, Housiing, Home and Neighbourhood
  • TRP132, Planning Project
  • TRP450, Critical Perspectives on Planning
  • TRP625, Applied Real Estate Evaluation