The Bartlett School of Planning

Dr Ben Clifford

Dr Ben Clifford

Associate Professor

The Bartlett School of Planning

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
27th Apr 2009

Research summary

Ben Clifford is a political geographer with research interests centred on urban and environmental governance and policy, town planning, public engagement, and the changing spaces of professionalism and the public sector in an age of neoliberalizing governance.  He brings inter-disciplinary skills from across the social sciences, as well as experience of the policy process in action in central government.

Research interests include:

- Impacts of modernising local government and neoliberalizing governance on the public sector, professions and community engagement

- Implementation of state reform

- The status and identity of planning as a profession, including media representations of town planning and town planners

- British urban and environmental management and policy

Teaching summary

Ben Clifford’s teaching interests are centred around:

- Planning as a system of governmental regulation and action

- Public participation in planning

- Urban and environmental management and governance

At the Bartlett School of Planning, UCL, in addition to supervising a number of Masters and PhD students, he is currently teaches on and coordinates two undergraduate and one postgraduate module:

- ENVS1014 – Introducing Planning Systems (First year undergraduates)

- ENVS0123 – Management for Built Environment Professionals I (First year undergraduates)

- BENVGTC9 – Critical Debates in Planning (Masters students)


Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), ATQ03 - Recognised by the HEA as a Fellow |
Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), ATQ07 - Holder of a PGCE in higher education, secondary edu, further edu, life long lear |
University College London
Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education | 2011
University of London
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 2009
University of St Andrews
First Degree, Bachelor of Science (Honours) | 2004


Ben Clifford took up post as ‘Lecturer in Spatial Planning and Government’ within the Bartlett School of Planning at University College London (UCL) at the end of April 2009.  Born and raised in the exciting ‘edge city’ of Croydon, he is a geographer by background and training.  His interest in planning developed whilst studying geography at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, when he undertook a dissertation that used three proposals being mediated through the planning system as a route to assessing how people conceptualized their environment.  Following this, Ben returned to London to undertake PhD research at King’s College (KCL).  His PhD was funded through the then ESRC-ODPM joint scheme and his thesis, entitled “Planning at the Coalface: British Local Authority Planners and the Experience of Planning and Public Sector Reform” examined how local authority planners, as ‘street-level’ professionals, were reacting to New Labour’s reforms of the planning system whilst they were helping to implement them.  Overall he argued that ‘the coalface’ has a vital role in shaping the contours of modernisation and for a more implementation-focused examination of state reforms.

During the course of this PhD research, Ben was seconded for three months to work in Communities and Local Government (the government department responsible for planning in England) to assist with the LDF team’s major consultation on planning reform and the subsequent redrafting of the planning policy statement on local spatial planning and accompanying best practice manual. This initial secondment was then followed by a further three month period spent working as a policy advisor on the secretariat of the Killian Pretty Review, a national review of the planning application process co-sponsored by CLG and BERR.

In addition to his teaching and research duties, Ben serves as the Programme Director for the MSc Spatial Planning degree course and as the MSc Tutor for the Bartlett School of Planning. In his spare time, Ben is a senior Special Constable with the British Transport Police.