University of Hertfordshire Urbanism Unit

The University of Hertfordshire Urbanism Unit was established in late 2018 under the directorship of Dr Susan Parham. The unit is the university’s home for planning and urbanism research and is located in the School of Life and Medical Sciences. It is the ‘sister’ unit to the recently established Smart Mobility Unit run by Dr Scott Copsey.

In purpose, structure and research focus, the unit builds on existing strengths and track record in planning and urbanism teaching, research and partnership working. Research is currently underway into food and urbanism, garden cities, and sustainable materials decision making in the built environment.


The unit is running research through the University of Hertfordshire-Tarmac Sustainable Living Partnership, building on a previous three year programme of research on sustainability in master planned communities. Read our research paper People, Products and Places research, final report.

Find out more on the UH-Tarmac Sustainable Living Partnership. Dr Parham is currently leading research on sustainability decision making in the construction industry supply chain.

Other research reflects Dr Parham’s long-term research activity on food and place and is being undertaken as part of a multi-partner international research consortium, the Edible Cities Network.

Working with Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation, the University of Hertfordshire Urbanism Unit is contributing to applied research on developing ‘Edible City Solutions’ in Letchworth Garden City over the next five years. This food-focused research ties in closely with applied doctoral study by Ms Amélie André, our Herts Science Partnership Research Scholar who is co-funded by this foundation.

As well as research, it is the location for our University of Hertfordshire Planning School which was granted Royal Town Planning Institute accreditation on 17 July 2019. The research unit is also actively developing a planning apprenticeship route at the University of Hertfordshire.

Externally, the unit is undertaking partnership work with many other organisations such as Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation through the International Garden Cities Institute in Letchworth. The unit also works with key academic partners in the United Kingdom including The Prince’s Foundation who contribute to both teaching and research and with whom we are developing a new joint Master’s Programme in Urbanism. We also have valuable partnerships with external practitioner stakeholders including Gascoyne Cecil .

The University of Hertfordshire Urbanism Unit is in the process of establishing an oversight board and will also host a number of University of Hertfordshire research associates from geography, architecture, environmental management, engineering and business.


We will be holding monthly seminars in 2021/2022 academic year, outlining our research and that of the "sister" group Smart Mobility Unit. They are held at the University and have plenary and discussion sessions, followed by cheese, wine and good conversation.

Find out more about the Urbanism Unit's seminar programme

Check out our latest seminar from 2020/2021 from Look! St Albans, the voice of the community on urban design.

Follow us on twitter @UrbanismUnitUH