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Dr Matthew Wargent

Lecturer in Urban Planning and Development

+44 (0)29 2087 5281
Room 1.52, Glamorgan Building, King Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3WA
Available for postgraduate supervision


My research focuses on the governance, planning, and development of urban space, with a particular emphasis on localism and the relationship between communities and the state.

Recent projects have focused on the impact of community-led planning on housebuilding, the importance of conflict in public participation, the creation and use of evidence for planning policy, community experiences in 'left behind' areas, and the growing influence of private sector experts in planning and governance.

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 held research posts at the University of Reading, University of Sheffield, and University College London.


  • PhD Sociology, University of Sheffield, 2017
  • MA Sociology and Management, University of Essex, 2012
  • BA Social Policy and Sociology, University of Sheffield, 2011

Professional Memberships

  • Town and Country Planning Association
  • Royal Town Planning Institute
  • Advance HE

Administrative Appointments

  • Outreach and Recruitment Officer (2022 -)

External Appointments

  • RTPI Cymru Policy and Research Forum (2023 - 2024)

Peer Reviewing

  • European Planning Studies
  • Journal of the American Planning Association
  • Local Government Studies
  • Local Environment
  • Planning Practice & Research
  • Planning Theory
  • Planning Theory & Practice
  • Policy Sciences
  • Public Administration
  • Town Planning Review
  • Urban Planning












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


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

My research focuses on 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 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.

Recent research has considered community-led planning in 'left behind' neighbourhoods and I am currently working alongside colleagues to rethink the citizen epistemologies through the lens of epistemic (in)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 (digital) 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, whilst the profession faces diminishing public trust.

The ever-growing role of digital technologies in planning represents perhaps the most significant disruption to contemporary planning, introducing new sectors, actors and skills to planning spaces faster than the profession is able to adjust to its influence. My research interests lie in the opportunities for more inclusive community engagement via digital tools but also how digital technologies are infleunce our conception of the future.

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.


I welcome enquiries for doctoral supervision relating to 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)