Graduate trio among finalists for prestigious national planning awards

Three University of Brighton graduates have been shortlisted for the Royal Town Planning Institute Awards for Research Excellence 2021.

Nepo Schrade, Nicole Collomb and Helen Pennington graduated from the Town Planning MSc degree in 2020, and have now been shortlisted in the student category of these RTPI Awards, based on the research put forward in their final dissertations.

Nepo explored an often overlooked climate change issue, looking how planning can play a key role in mitigating the impact of Urban Heat Islands (UHIs). Taking London and Berlin as case studies, he found a lack of consideration of climate impacts within formal planning processes in both cities – with London’s approach to UHIs being almost non-existent.

Nepo said: “I am delighted many of the finalists examined climate change and health in planning. It is becoming increasingly apparent that such a shift in focus is needed to address the crises we have been – and will be – facing. I hope that my work on climate justice and urban heat islands contributes to these efforts.”

Nicole Collomb also delved into climate change concerns, delving into the role and effectiveness of green policies in creating healthy, climate resilient cities. Her work specifically focuses on providing rigorous quantifiable standards for green infrastructure efforts to boost the sustainability of new developments in cities worldwide, including a study of the early impact of the new London Urban Greening Factor (UGF).

Nicole said: “My research, like many on this year’s shortlist, focused on the urgent issue of planning for sustainability and climate change and in particular on the use of green factor policies – a new policy tool for green infrastructure in new developments.”

Helen Pennington, meanwhile, drew links between planning policy and public health – specifically in creating healthy weight environments. Her dissertation examined how planning decisions in Brighton & Hove might help address obesity, and included creating a healthy-weight map of the city to see if there were any links between local planning decisions and obesity in different wards, compared to other factors such as deprivation.

Helen said: “The issue of how planning can affect health outcomes through preventing health issues, such as obesity, and supporting healthy-lifestyles, feels more relevant than ever given the current pandemic”.

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