Professor Malcolm Tait
Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Professor of Planning
+44 114 222 6919
Full contact details
Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Geography and Planning Building
I studied Geography at Durham University and went on to do an MA in Town and Regional Planning at the University of Sheffield in 1997. I completed my PhD in Town and Regional Planning at Sheffield in 2000.
I was appointed as Research Associate at Cardiff University on the ESRC-funded project ‘The Urban Village: A real or imagined contribution to sustainable development’. I returned to Sheffield in 2001 when I was made Lecturer in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning. I was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2009, and Professor of Planning in January 2016.
- Research interests
My research focusses on three main areas, as follows:
Trust and Planning
I am interested in mapping the importance of trust in planning and in the work of planners. I have explored this in a number of directions, including the extent to which a `crisis of trust´ exists in planning as an activity and what implications this has for the planning profession.
I am also interested in mapping the significance and form of trust relations in the day-to-day work of planners. I have carried out an ethnographic study of planners in a local authority in the South West of England to explore how relations of trust are constructed in the contemporary local government environment. In particular, the extent to which performance management regimes (targets, indicators) affect how trust is built by different actors in planning has been explored.
I have also written and researched on urban villages (with Mike Biddulph and Bridget Franklin). This work explored the value of the urban village concept and its application in practice examining the means by which the urban village concept has arisen as a noteworthy model for development. The project also assessed the practicality of implementing the urban village model, and used case studies in London, Birmingham and Merseyside to evaluate developments termed 'urban villages'.
Theorising Urban Intervention
Work to understand and theorise how planners and others intervene in processes of urban development springs from my work on urban villages. I am currently exploring theoretical issues associated with urban intervention in collaboration with Ole B Jensen at Aalborg University, Denmark. Drawing on examples of urban villages, Business Improvement Districts and other sources, we have explored issues such as the use and dissemination of models of urban intervention and the role of spatial re-presentation in managing urban change (see Tait and Jensen, 2007).
Further work develops the notion of 'travelling ideas' and how they are materialised in distinct locations through professionalised discourses. I have also worked on issues of citizen participation in urban regeneration through the INTERREG IIIB project: Vitalizing City Centres through Integrated Spatial Planning.
Finally, I am interested in how plans are constructed, interpreted and used in managing urban development. Work with Aidan While investigates the significance of historical plans in shaping current urban redevelopment (While and Tait, 2009) and the ontology of conserving the built environment (Tait and While, 2009).
Current and Recent Research Projects
- Working in the public interest (Economic & Social Research Council)
- Designing for Wellbeing in Environments for Later Life (DWELL) (Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council)
- SEEDS (INTERREG)
- Serving the public interest? Towards a history of private sector planning expertise in England. Planning Perspectives.
- Planning and knowledge: how new forms of technocracy are shaping contemporary cities. Housing Studies, 37(1), 181-182.
- ‘We need to put what we do in my dad’s language, in pounds, shillings and pence’: Commercialisation and the reshaping of public-sector planning in England. Urban Studies. View this article in WRRO
- Understanding smellscapes: Sense-making of smell-triggered emotions in place. Emotion, Space and Society, 37, 100710-100710.
- A perceptual model of smellscape pleasantness. Cities, 76, 105-115. View this article in WRRO
- Planning and the public interest: Still a relevant concept for planners?. Planning Theory, 15(4), 335-343.
- Putting Localism in Place: Conservative Images of the Good Community and the Contradictions of Planning Reform in England. Planning Practice and Research, 31(2), 174-194. View this article in WRRO
- Is There Space forBetterPlanning in a Neoliberal World? Implications for Planning Practice and Theory. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 34(1), 45-59.
- Business and Planning: A Strategic-Relational Approach. International Planning Studies, 18(2), 143-167.
- Trust and governance in regional planning. Town Planning Review, 84(3), 283-312.
- Building trust in planning professionals: understanding the contested legitimacy of a planning decision. Town Planning Review, 83(5), 597-618.
- Trust and the Public Interest in the Micropolitics of Planning Practice. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 31(2), 157-171.
- Ontology and the conservation of built heritage. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 27(4), 721-737.
- Exeter and the question of Thomas Sharp's physical legacy. Planning Perspectives, 24(1), 77-97.
- The Crisis of Trust and Planning. Planning Theory & Practice, 8(2), 229-247.
- Travelling Ideas, Power and Place: The Cases of Urban Villages and Business Improvement Districts. International Planning Studies, 12(2), 107-128.
- Moving the urban village from concept to reality. Open House International, 29(4), 48-56.
- Urban villages as self-sufficient, integrated communities: A case study in London's Docklands. Urban Design International, 8(1), 37-52.
- From concept to completion: A critical analysis of the urban village. Town Planning Review, 74(2), 165-193.
- Room for Manoeuvre? An Actor-network Study of Central-Local Relations in Development Plan Making. Planning Theory & Practice, 3(1), 69-85.
- Constructing an Image: The Urban Village Concept in the UK. Planning Theory, 1(3), 250-272.
- The Politics of Communication between Planning Officers and Politicians: The Exercise of Power through Discourse. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 32(3), 489-506.
- Handbook of Research on Perception-Driven Approaches to Urban Assessment and Design IGI Global
- The design of urban smellscapes with fragrant plants and water features, Designing with Smell: Practices, Techniques and Challenges (pp. 83-95).
- 'A grand question of design': knowledge, space and difference in early and late Latour In Rydin Y & Tate L (Ed.), Actor Networks of Planning: Exploring the Influence of Actor Network Theory (pp. 231-244). Abingdon: Routledge.
- Is There Space for Better Planning in a Neoliberal World?, Readings in Planning Theory (pp. 187-213).
- Is There Space forBetterPlanning in a Neoliberal World?, Readings in Planning Theory (pp. 187-213). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
Conference proceedings papers
- Smellscapes in urban intermodal transit spaces: understanding pleasantness as a concept for design in an English context. Proceedings of the International Conference on Changing Cities 2: Spatial, Design, Landscape & Social-economic Dimensions
- Research group
I am Primary supervisor for the following PhD students:
- Helen Brown, Housing and ageing
- Carlo Chan, Silver-lining our future: contextualising age-friendly models in London and Hong Kong
- Vanessa Lo, Housing and ageing: a case study in the Peak District
- Kirsten Ward, Green Belt policy and politics in England
Interested in PhD study?
I welcome enquiries from prospective PhD students who have interests in:
- the profession of planning, including its changing role in new (local authority) governance contexts;
- the role and values of private sector planning professionals; and,
- urban intervention, including how models and concepts get used by planners and others to shape places.
- Teaching interests
All my teaching seeks to link how we think about planning with how we act as planners. Understanding the concepts that underpin many planning programmes is crucial to realising the possibilities of creating better planning responses.
Much of my teaching involves project based work, opening space for students to respond to real life situations and to reflect on the actions that might be taken in response to these. This includes work with masters students to recreate the decision making situations of local government, and work to prepare plans and designs for areas in Sheffield.
Undergraduate teaching focuses on using real life examples of plans, documents, and policies to explore the broader questions that underpin the activity of planning.