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Spatial Policy and Analysis Laboratory

Impact

Our development of new methodologies changed the way governments and international organisations monitor their spatial planning policies. Local planning authorities in the UK were subsequently required to comply with practices based on our recommendations.

Model of central London streets and train station
Our research contributed to a reform of spatial planning in the 2004 Spatial Planning Act.

Our work has also helped shape professional debate, thinking and practices among international bodies including the World Bank, the European Commission, and the United Nations.

A series of research projects has developed new methodologies that improve the technical and statistical analysis of indicators on the impact of spatial planning and development policies. The findings of this work have led to a step change in policy monitoring practices in Britain, including:

  • The publication of a good practice guide on monitoring, to which all 394 English local planning authorities were required to comply, based on six design principles identified by the research.
  • A shift in ethos by English local planning authorities in  the way they use their annual monitoring reports in overall strategic planning and policy-making.
  • A contribution to the wholesale reform of spatial planning, embodied in the 2004 Spatial Planning Act..
  • The development of a Strategic Planning Outcome monitoring framework with emphasis on outcomes (rather than outputs) for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Royal Town Planning Institute
  • A shift in the mind-set and practice of spatial policy monitoring towards collaborative, reflexive and double loop learning (i.e. question the goals while solving the problem).
  • The publication of A Map for England as a contribution to the UK Government’s preparation of the National Planning Policy Framework, offering an effective visual tool to help identify the spatial synergies and conflicts of government policies, programmes and initiatives.
  • The presentation of evidence to the Growth and Infrastructure Public Bill Committee, highlighting particularly UK National Parks, alongside the East of England, as areas suffering from poor superfast broadband access.

Our research

3d urban planning map
We're using innovative visual techniques to analyse the impact of policies at a regional level.

In the 1970s most research into policy monitoring typically focused on national indices, rather than methodologies and indicators, to inform spatially-oriented urban and regional policies.

Our research team has developed powerful techniques to analyse the impact of policies at a regional level by:

  • Integrating a learning and analytical approach to policy monitoring.
  • Using principal component analysis to develop composite indices.
  • Improving the understanding of policy concepts.
  • Linking the analysis to different socio-political contexts.
  • Using visual interpretation (e.g. analysis of multi-layered maps).
  • Engaging key stakeholders in the process to develop a comprehensive framework.

Key people

Further information