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Planning and Environmental Management

researcher analysing planning data

Spatial Policy and Analysis Laboratory (SPA-Lab)

SPA-Lab is part of the Manchester Urban Institute. Formed in 2017, it emerged out of the former Centre for Urban Policy Studies (CUPS).

The members of SPA-Lab have a strong international reputation for policy-relevant research on:

  • GIS and applied spatial analysis
  • spatial development in China
  • spatial planning, housing and infrastructure development
  • sustainable regional development.

Significant advancements have been made in applying indicators and GIS techniques to urban planning and policy problems across spatial scales.

Research focused on the utilisation of digital communications to enhance citizen participation and to provide support systems for decision-making have been highly influential in policy circles.

Examples of research in this area include:

  • Commute-Flow, looking at commuting patterns in England and Wales (ESRC)
  • "Migration, urbanization, and governance in China" (Hallsworth Research Fellowship: Dr. Yinxuan Huang)
  • Sustainable Urbanisation in China (ESRC-Newton Fund)
  • the development of a web-based, interactive Housing and Neighbourhood Monitor as part of a three-year project for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF)
  • the development of Tell-us Toolkit Ltd, a University spin off company, providing map-based software tools to support business decisions and stakeholder engagement.
  • the development of the Interreg IVC-funded Green and Blue Space Adaptation for Urban Areas and Eco-Towns (GRaBS) toolkit with partners across Europe
  • the development of Ketso into a spin-off company and award-winning tool for creative stakeholder engagement
  • The Map for England project funded by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) which revealed the spatial impacts of government policies and is providing a catalyst for future work on the implications of strategic infrastructure and spatial development nationally and regionally.
  • "The nexus of infrastructure development and sustainable spatial growth: the case of High-speed railway development in the Yangtze River Delta, China" (Hallsworth Research Fellowship: Dr. Lei Wang).