Meet the Member (May 2024)

Katie McClymont:

Prof. Katie McClymont
Prof. Katie McClymont

Katie participated in PLPR 2023 in Michigan. We missed her dearly, so we caught up with her for a brief update. For members who don’t know her, please meet Katie McClymont, Associate Prof. of Urban Planning, School of Architecture and Environment, University of the West of England, Bristol.


General Background:

Dr. McClymont has a broad range of research and teaching experience across the field of urban and rural planning. She obtained her PhD from the University of Sheffield, after previously gaining a BA(Hons) in Social and Political Sciences from the University of Cambridge. The PhD provided theoretically informed insights into the meaning and operation of the ‘profession’ in contemporary English planning practice. She has worked at UWE, Bristol since 2009 where she has led the MSc in Urban Planning programme for several years. She has undertaken several research council and consultancy funded projects, in particular, developing work about the role and regulation of cemeteries in contemporary cities, with particular attention to how planning can (or cannot) accommodate diverse religious and cultural requirements in these spaces. She is an editor for the Interface section of Planning Theory and Practice journal and publishes widely in planning, housing and geography journals as well as consultancy reports. Two recent examples are ‘Community led housing, health and wellbeing: a comprehensive literature review’ published in the International Journal of Housing Policy with Rachael McClatchey, Emma Griffin & Laurence Carmichael and a report about housing affordability in the South West of England with colleagues at UWE https://homesforthesouthwest.co.uk/home/affordability-report/

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about linking theory and practice, and education and experience. In my research, writing and teaching, I am keen to explore new ideas and ways of framing concepts to promote better understanding and progressive change in practice. I do this via my Planning Theory and Practice interface role, but also within my regular teaching, asking students who often are already practicing planners to consider how what we cover in our ‘history and theory of urban planning’ module is (or could be) relevant to their jobs. This leads to some great conversations and debates in class!

I am most pleased when my research and teaching has a meaningful impact beyond academia. In teaching community involvement, my students will spend time with local groups, door knocking or other activities such as mapping community notice boards. Work I have undertaken on planning for cemeteries has led to conversations with practitioners about looking to the future ‘deathscapes’ of Bristol, and work noted above about health benefits of community-led housing has been used by groups making the case for their developments.

Intellectually, I am passionate about the spaces, uses and places that don’t readily fit planning’s standard categories- this does include cemeteries, but also some sorts of community spaces and alternative housing. I am interested in both what this means for planning as a profession and activity, and also its impacts on our towns, cities and countryside.

What are you working on these days?

I am currently engaged in writing up from several recent projects! This includes work about ‘post-consent’ changes in planning practice with Hannah Hickman and Sebastian Dembski. We are looking at the differences between England and German in how developments are managed after a permit or planning permission has been granted. This is an exciting and overlooked area, and we are also hoping to bring together and develop further international comparisons on this topic.

I am undertaking research with colleagues in the Business School at UWE about rural enterprise and the factors which support or limit it post-Covid19 and post-Brexit. For me, this relates to the questions about the categories which planning employs- here including what ‘suitable’ development in rural areas might encompass. We are working with partners in the local authority to ensure our findings will help change practice.

.What brings you to PLPR?

Very specifically, it was at the suggestion of Sebastian Dembski- and what a great suggestion! I attended last year’s conference in Ann Arbor at his suggestion that this would be a good forum in which to present our joint work. I heard so many fascinating papers on relevant topics debated by a supportive audience. As someone who has had long held interests in regulation and ‘the rules’ in planning practice, I can’t understand why I didn’t know more about it sooner. Very disappointed not to be coming to Munich this year, but my daughter has exams then and I can’t travel.

Anecdote: things we don’t know about you?

I have recently got two pet rabbits which we had to bring back most of the width of England- nearly 200 miles- from Norfolk to Bristol !