- PhD Student: Joanne Leach
- Supervisors: Prof Chris Rogers & Dr Dexter Hunt
- Duration: 2012-2018
Recent years have seen increasing public, private and policy interest in the performance of cities, especially with regard to sustainability, climate change, resilience and, more recently, liveability. This has mirrored the increased attention being paid to cities more generally as engines of change and sites of economic and population growth. In order for cities to move towards increased liveability, it is important first to understand how cities function and how well they perform. This provides a baseline against which to identify and prioritise aspects that would benefit from change and assess the impact of any proposed interventions. Gaps in performance can then be identified, barriers to achieving a liveable future elucidated, and robust interventions designed and assessed. City performance refers to how well or poorly a city is functioning when set against defined criteria (e.g., sustainability, resilience, liveability). The assessment of a city’s performance is inherently influenced by how performance criteria are conceptualised and how they are measured. In order for the performance data to be useful, a determination of what constitutes ‘good’ performance must be made. Who does this, and how, materially influences the conclusions drawn. As such, the transparency of this information is crucial for policy making. Current city performance assessments are many and vary in criteria, measurement methodology, robustness, transparency and applicability to specific urban contexts, with no single method dominating. This presents a challenge to policy makers and others wishing to use these methods to inform policy.
This PhD programme is developing a City Analysis Methodology (CAM) specifically designed to aid UK policy makers by taking account of a uniquely broad set of perspectives (liveability). It proposes a new, relational conceptual framework for measuring the performance of cities as well as delivering unique insights into the performance of Birmingham, Lancaster and Southampton. The research forms part of Liveable Cities, a 5-year research programme exploring pathways to low-carbon, resource-secure cities in which societal wellbeing is prioritised, while changes in population, demography, climate, security of energy / other resources, and a plethora of historical legacies, provide the context (see www.liveablecities.org.uk).