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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  People  /  Research Students  /  Myfanwy Taylor

Myfanwy Taylor


Nurturing London's diverse economies: re-thinking urban planning for diverse economies

Supervisors: Jennifer Robinson (Geography) and Michael Edwards (Planning)



My PhD is concerned with the role of planning in relation to economic development in London. Diversity is an important starting point for my work, in light of the tendency within urban theory, policy and practice to focus on a narrow sub-set of activities thought to be productive and generative of urban growth, in particular financial services, creative and high-tech industries. The role of economic diversity in fostering innovation and resilience in cities also means that it may become an increasingly important focus of urban policy and planning in times of economic crisis and austerity urbanism. Finely-grained, incremental approaches that work with existing economies may be needed in place of large-scale development schemes. One might also point to the increasing recognition of the importance of jobs and livelihoods, rather than GDP growth alone, at the same time as living costs rise and welfare support is withdrawn or reduced.

In light of these trends, my PhD will explore how planning might better recognise, support and build upon (or, 'nurture') economic diversity, with a particular focus on London. In doing so, I hope to examine the potential for such modes of development to better align social and economic development and to better connect spheres of life and work in cities.

My research takes the form of three core mixed-methods case studies, one London-wide with Just Space Economy and Planning and two at the borough and neighbourhood scale (with Our Tottenham and Wards Corner in Haringey, and with residents and businesses at the Carpenters Estate, Newham). A key element of my approach is to work in collaboration with community groups who are engaging in planning issues at various scales. My aim is to produce material that is relevant both to my PhD and to the groups I am working with, and to develop my work from an embedded and action-oriented critical perspective which arises as a result of my participation as well my research.

This research is funded by a PhD Studentship award from the Economic and Social Research Council.

Links to collaborating groups

Just Space Economy and Planning:

Our Tottenham:

Wards Corner Community Coalition:

No website as yet for the Carpenters Estate.



Taylor, M. 2014. 'Being useful' after the Ivory Tower: combining activism with research with the Brixton Pound' Area 46:3 pp.305-312. Open Access available at

Taylor, M. 2013. 'Rethinking London's economy and economic future' in S. Bell and J. Paskins (Eds.) Imagining the Future City: London 2062 Ubiquity Press, London pp.131-134. E-book and pdf available at



Participatory Geographies Research Group:

International Network of Urban Research and Action: