Spatial Governance includes policy and practice-oriented research, centred on land use planning, social-ecological resilience, public policy, and community engagement [Alwaer, Cumming, Gado, Gopinath, Illsley, Kirk, Peel, Onyango, Radfar]. Research is concerned with developing appropriate planning theory and practice in the formulation and realisation of policy outcomes in the context of changing state-market-civil relations at international, national, and local scales. The focus is on the design and evaluation of new methodologies (homelessness data collection, participatory poverty mapping), policy instruments (sustainability tools and environmental assessment), and territorial management (policy development, Business Improvement Districts and community-led initiatives).

Staff have developed new approaches to, and built capacity for, data collection on homelessness and housing exclusion. The £500k MPHASIS (Mutual Progress on Homelessness through Advancing and Strengthening Information Systems), lead by Edgar and Illsley, was funded under the EU PROGRESS Programme. The project involved action-oriented research and transnational exchange in 20 European countries, creating the first European partnership on homelessness monitoring systems. Gopinath’s Poverty Study and Poverty Mapping Workshop in Kerala, India has developed a place-based understanding of poverty that has application to communities internationally.

The SuBETool (Sustainable Built Environment Tool) designed by Alwaer is a new framework for sustainable master-planning that has extended the environmental assessment methods in use today for buildings, like LEED and BREEAM, by providing a broader palette of performance indicators that measure the sustainability of buildings, master-plans, and communities. The tool was developed with Hilson Moran Partnership (a multi-disciplinary built environment consultancy with offices worldwide), and is used by them on master-planning projects. This group has proven capacity in Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) [Onyango and Peel] and in the field measurement and testing of buildings for environmental performance, primarily focusing on buildings in hot climates, correlating environmental comfort with use patterns [Gado]. We have environmental lab that supports design-based researcher and students.

Echoing Geddes’ focus on regional planning, Illsley’s unit works with TAYplan, one of the four Scottish regional planning authorities, to progress thinking on long-term strategic planning policy. Other policy development includes research for Scottish Government on wind farm separation distances [Onyango, Illsley, Radfar] and analysis and critique of governance and policy [Peel]. The changing nature of institutional and community relationships at different scales has been a recurrent interest, from the unit led by Illsley that monitored and evaluated the Dundee Community Partnership, to research into the sustainability of resource-based communities [Jackson, Illsley] and a joint Geddes/ Architecture + Design Scotland [A+DS] symposium series on new forms of community-led planning and place-making, with participation by local authorities, Scottish Government, and other stakeholders.