Dr Sarah Payne


Room number: F14
Telephone (internal): 26939
Telephone (UK): 0114 222 6939
Telephone (International): +44 114 222 6939

Twitter: @paynesarah


My academic background is in urban studies. I have an undergraduate degree in Geography and an MRes in Land Economy from the University of Aberdeen and a PhD in housebuilder behaviour from the University of Glasgow. Before joining the Department, I worked in the real estate development industry as a Land Buyer for a volume housebuilder and as a Property Consultant, working on viability appraisals and planning applications for landowners and developers.

I am Director of Real Estate Programmes (MSc Real Estate and MSc Real Estate Planning & Development) and Departmental Employability Officer. I Chair the Faculty of Social Sciences Employability Group and play a leading role in designing and integrating professional skills development into undergraduate and postgraduate curricula.

I am a Co-Investigator with the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE), a consortium of 14 institutions led by the University of Glasgow. My recent work with CaCHE looked at how the land supply system affects the business of UK speculative housebuilding. My current project asks what regulatory practices and business models enhance the uptake of modern methods of construction.


My research examines institutional complexity in market-led housing systems. I am particularly interested in developer behaviour and the state-market nexus in understanding housing supply outcomes. To date my research has focused on issues such as how housebuilders perceive the ‘value’ of green infrastructure and what role nature-based solutions may play in future urban development; how potential changes to Britain’s system of land value capture may impact housebuilders’ valuation and development practices; what evidence exists to explain the low uptake of modern methods of construction in UK residential development practice; how institutional constraints in the post-recession housing system affect housebuilders’ capacity to act on recovering market demand; and, how housebuilders in Britain and China are transitioning towards greener development practices in light of tightening regulations on carbon emissions in new homes.

My current and planned future research projects focus on the following lines of enquiry:

  1. How should we think about nature-market relations in land and property and in what ways should or can nature be valued?
  2. What is a responsible developer and how should we think about morality in contemporary housing markets?
  3. How do we put a ‘value’ on green infrastructure? Can nature-based solutions be monetised in residential development and what might be the impact of, or on development practices, with particular regard to land, design, planning, valuation, lending and marketing?
  4. How do real estate developers manage risk against shifting economic, social, environmental, technological and political contexts?

Current and Recent Research Projects


My teaching explores the interface between the planning system and the real estate development process and investigates how planning, design and risk influence development viability. I’m keen for my students to think critically about the motivations of market-based actors and to question the efficacy of planning policy in shaping real estate development processes. I hope to equip my students with good commercial awareness and the skills to understand and balance the competing needs of stakeholders in real estate and planning practice.

I currently teach on the following modules:

TRP130, Housing, Home and Neighbourhood
TRP235, Design and Development Project
TRP637 Politics, Planning and the State
TRP6405, Integrated Project
TRP6417, Real Estate Development

PhD Supervision

I am currently Primary Supervisor for the following PhD students:

  • Carl Lee, The purpose built student housing development nexus
  • Hannah Jiang, The green housing transition in China

I welcome PhD proposals from applicants interested in investigating research questions framed within the following broad topics:

  • risk in real estate development
  • housing markets in emerging economies and developing nations
  • land markets / landowner behaviour in planning and development
  • valuation practices in residential development
  • green infrastructure / nature-based solutions and housing delivery
  • Publications

Journal articles

  • Inch A, Dunning R, While A, Hickman H & Payne S (2020) 'The object is to change the heart and soul' : financial incentives, planning and opposition to new housebuilding in England. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space. View this article in WRRO
  • Payne S (2020) Advancing understandings of housing supply constraints: housing market recovery and institutional transitions in British speculative housebuilding. Housing Studies, 35(2), 266-289. View this article in WRRO
  • Jiang H & Payne S (2019) Green housing transition in the Chinese housing market : a behavioural analysis of real estate enterprises. Journal of Cleaner Production, 241. View this article in WRRO
  • Payne S & Barker A (2018) Carbon regulation and pathways for institutional transition in market-led housing systems: A case study of English housebuilders and zero carbon housing policy. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space, 1(4), 470-493. View this article in WRRO


View full list of publications