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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 geographer-planner with research interests in the reform of the planning system in the UK and its relationship with the modernisation of the state, governance of the built and natural environment, planning professionalism, public engagement in planning, devolution and planning, planning implementation, the local state, and consequences of deregulation of planning. As well as scholarly book and journal publications, he has written a number of blogs on planning reform. His research on permitted development has been widely cited in the print media, by a parliamentary select committe and by the broadcast media.

Teaching summary

Ben Clifford’s teaching interests are centred around:

- Planning as a system of governmental regulation and action

- Planning reform and planning practice

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:

- BPLN0069 – Introducing Planning Systems (First year undergraduates)

- BPLN0047 – Spatial Planning: Critical Practice (Masters students)

Education

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

Biography

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 and was subsequently promoted to Senior Lecturer and Associate Professor within the School. 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. 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 then government department responsible for planning in England) to assist with work on planning reform. 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.


At UCL, Ben has been involved in research on devolution and planning, local authority housebuilding, deregulation and planning (particularly permitted development in England) and outsourcing and the public interest in planning. His research on permitted development was recognised with an RTPI prize in 2018. He has academic visiting positions with the University of Melbourne and Public Health England.


In addition to his duties in research and teaching, Ben serves as the Programme Director for the MSc Spatial Planning and the MSc Spatial Planning Degree Apprenticeship at UCL and is the departmental tutor with oversight of all taught postgraduate students and courses in the Bartlett School of Planning. In his spare time, Ben is a senior Special Constable with the British Transport Police.

Publications