• Room 03.018 - David Keir Building

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I am happy to supervise PhD students in the following areas:
1. Neoliberal urbanism
2. Economic development
3. Waterfront regeneration
4. Illegal drugs
5. Economics of religion
6. City branding
7. Cultural policies
8. World Heritage Sites
9. Digital technology

1995 …2023

Research activity per year

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Personal profile

Interests

Local and regional economic development; neoliberal urbanism and city competitiveness; urban imagery and city branding; cultural events and cities of culture; drugs, cities and planning; economics of God, planning for religion and places of worship; digital technology and public participation; World Heritage Sites and urban planning.

Research Statement

My research centres on key empirical, theoretical and policy debates relating to the contemporary city and urban economics. The overarching interest lies in who, what, where and why benefits from public policy interventions. Post-PhD, I published a number of articles on the interface between urban governance and economic development, focusing on European funding initiatives in Merseyside and Wales. My work then broadened to engage with debates on neoliberal urbanism and city competitiveness, drilling down into the case study cities of Cardiff and Liverpool. This research problematised the reification of neoliberal competitiveness as a hegemonic discourse in urban planning. A specific focus on the competitive waterfront exposed the uneven socio-spatial distributional consequences and questioned the wider public benefit. My emergent work on Liverpool - PhD focus and birth city - expanded to cover debates on urban imagery and city branding. This research examined the construction of images of people and place, and in particular the role of planning interventions to rebrand the city. The spatial spotlight of this work problematised the rebranding of Liverpool, and other port cities such as Cardiff and, most recently, Belfast by revealing the largely sanitised lived realities of ordinary people. Another substantial body of work engages with debates on cultural events and cities of culture. This research problematises culture as a resource for urban regeneration, economic development, and peace and reconciliation. A specific empirical focus critically evaluated the impact and legacy of major cultural events in the UK, in particular Liverpool’s tenure as European Capital of Culture in 2008 and Derry/Londonderry as the UK’s inaugural City of Culture in 2013.

An ongoing body of work addresses the relationship between drugs, cities and planning. This research is driven by an understanding that not only do illegal drugs have important implications for city economies; they also constitute a significant ‘planning problem’. A problem that could, to some extent, be ameliorated by innovative targeted planning interventions. My work on the ‘drugs-planning nexus’ is leading that debate. Another under-researched but very important urban issue is how we plan for religion and places of worship. This work engages with the economics of God, religious neoliberalism and, more empirically, it problematises the contentious planning decisions on places of worship for different religious communities. My work on the ‘religion-planning nexus’ is leading that debate.

More recently, I have developed an interest in another two highly important public policy issues. The first concerns the role of digital technology in urban planning. This research focuses on the extent to which new technologies can enhance, i.e. democratise, the level and quality of public participation in local planning decisions. In particular, it engages with debates on citizen inclusivity, the democratic deficit and digital divide. Finally, my most recent work engages with contemporaneous and controversial debates on the interface between urban regeneration and heritage planning. This research focuses on the international scandal that erupted following UNESCO’s decision to delist Liverpool’s World Heritage Site, and the ongoing perilous predicament of Stonehenge and Avebury.

 

Shadow CV

Holdsworth, C. (2020) 'A manifesto for failure: Deporsonalising, collectivising and embracing failure in research funding'. Emotion, Space and Society, 37: 1-4.

Unsuccessful grant applications valued at £2,490,929

October 2022 UKRI-SBE Lead Agency £737,479 ‘Living with Digital Technology: Public Participatory Planning in the UK and USA’. Principal Investigator with colleagues from Cardiff University, State University of New York Plattsburgh, and University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

May 2022 Leverhulme Trust £292,564 ‘World Heritage Sites: Saving Stonehenge after Losing Liverpool’. Principal Investigator with colleagues from Queen’s University Belfast, and University of Pennsylvania.

October 2021 Leverhulme Trust £447,797 ‘Digitalisation, Democracy and Covid-19: City Planning in the UK and USA’. Principal Investigator with colleagues from Cardiff University, State University of New York Plattsburgh, and University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

July 2021 ESRC Trans-Atlantic Platform (T-AP) £247,048 ‘Evaluating Post-Pandemic Cultural Regeneration Strategies in Post-Industrial Regions’. Project application led by University of Pittsburgh. I was joint Principal Investigator with colleagues from Newcastle University, and Dortmund University of Technology.

May 2020 Leverhulme Trust £273,763 ‘Religion-Planning Nexus: A Study of UK Port Cities’. Principal Investigator with colleagues from Queen’s University Belfast, and University of West of England.

December 2018 Leverhulme Trust £250,486 ‘Taming the ‘Wildfire of Resilience’: An Analysis of Belfast and Rotterdam’. Principal Investigator with colleagues from Queen’s University Belfast.

July 2017 Leverhulme Trust £241,792 ‘Unpacking and Problematizing the Drugs-Planning Nexus’. Principal Investigator with colleagues from Queen’s University Belfast.

Teaching

EVP 2010 Economy and Space; EVP 7033 Community Planning and Regeneration

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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