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Dr Matthew Wargent

Lecturer in Urban Planning and Development

+44 (0)29 2087 5281
Room 1.52, Adeilad Morgannwg, Rhodfa’r Brenin Edward VII, Caerdydd, CF10 3WA
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My research interests centre on the governance, planning, and development of urban space, with a particular focus on the interface between communities and planning policy-making.

Recent research has focused on public participation via community-led planning, the role of evidence and expertise in the creation of planning policy, and the role of the private sector in planning.

I have a keen interest in planning theory, and seek to demonstrate the value of theory in both my research and teaching.


I joined Cardiff as Lecturer in Urban Planning and Development in October 2021. Prior to this I was a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Reading and held research posts at University College London and University of Sheffield.

Current Administrative Appointments

  • 2022 - present: Recruitment and Outreach Officer

Professional Memberships

  • Royal Town Planning Institute (AssocRTPI)
  • Advance HE (AFHEA)
  • Regional Studies Association
  • Town and Country Planning Association


  • PhD Sociology (funded by the ESRC), University of Sheffield, 2017
  • MA Sociology and Management, Distinction, University of Essex, 2012
  • BA (Hons) Social Policy and Sociology, First Class, University of Sheffield, 2011


  • Sir Peter Hall Award for Wider Engagement, Royal Town Planning Institute Research Excellence Awards, 2019

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  • Manuscript reviewer:
    • Palgrave Macmillan (Public Policy)
    • Routledge (Urban Studies and Planning)
  • Peer reviewer for the following journals:
    • European Planning Studies
    • Journal of the American Planning Association
    • Local Government Studies
    • Planning Practice & Research
    • Planning Theory
    • Planning Theory & Practice
    • Policy Sciences
    • Public Administration
    • Town Planning Review
    • Urban Planning












  • Community Engagement, Mediation and Negotiation Skills (2022 - )
  • Planning Theory and Practice (2022 - )


  • Digital Planning and Development (2022 - ) *new module for 2022
  • Planning and Real Estate (2021 - )
  • Governing Urban and Regional Dynamics (2021 - )

Previously taught modules

  • Space and Place: International Planning Practice (2021/22)

Recent Projects

  • 2022 - 2023: Underrepresented Neighbourhood Plan Areas within Middlesbrough, Middlesbrough Council
  • 2022 - 2023: Devolution, Local Autonomy, and Multi-Level Governance in Canada and the UK, British Academy / CIFAR / Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
  • 2022 - 2023: What is the street for? Interrogating ‘ways of seeing’ and the epistemic justice of reconfiguring public space, British Academy / CIFAR
  • 2020 - 2021: Impact of Neighbourhood Planning in England, Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government

Research Overview

My research focuses on the governance and planning of urban space. I am interested in the array of actors drawn into governance processes, the knowledge they draw upon, and how decisions are made within the context of complex power relations across different spatial scales. Much of my research explores the political nature of planning policy and urban development across three themes:

(i) Participation, politics and neighbourhoods

I am interested in the politics of public participation, the role of communities in securing just outcomes, and what citizen experiences can teach us about how urban space is governed. Previous projects have explored the role of conflict in community-led planning, building on the work of Chantal Mouffe, and the possibilities of co-opting governance spaces, drawing on governmentality theory.

I have a particular interest in neighbourhood planning, both in its informal and statutory forms, and how it intersects with the growing digitalisation of planning and emergent concepts such as low-traffic and 20-minute neighbourhoods. A recent report commissioned by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government on the impacts of Neighbourhood Planning in England can be found here.

An upcoming project with partners from the University of Westminster, McGill University and the University of British Columbia entitled What is the street for? (funded by the British Academy and Canadian Institute for Advanced Research) will investigate the reconfiguration of public space through the lens of epistemic justice.

(ii) Private expertise in planning and urban governance

My interests here concern the growing role of private sector expertise in the governance and planning of urban space. I am interested in the role of consultants both within the (local) state and between local communities, development interests, and the planning system.

Recent projects have explored the historical role of consultants in the development of the planning discipline, the use of privately produced evidence in plan-making, how recent planning reforms have created new markets for consultant use within the state, and how consultants mediate community inputs to the planning system.

(iii) The future of planning

This cross-cutting research interest concerns the challenges facing professional planners in both the UK and across the globe. Despite significant growth and diversification of urban planning activity, the challenges it seeks to combat - from climate change to housing shortages - continue to grow. At the same time, dissatisfaction with the urban outcomes planning seeks to shape has deepended and the profession faces diminishing public trust.

My research in this area has focused on the attempts of professional planners to mediate changes to the statutory planning system and the politics of ongoing reform. You can read a series of essays on this subject in Planning Theory & Practice.


Prospective students

I welcome enquiries for doctoral supervision from students with an interest in any of the topics listed on my research page. Please contact me if you would like to discuss a potential project.

Current students

  • Esteban Rocha, Participatory Initiatives in Urban Planning: Conceptual Integration and Empirical Evidence from Emerging and Developed Countries (University of Reading)