New research to tackle urban planning and housing issues in major cities

A Keele Professor has received funding for a major new study into urban migration, which will establish an international ’Community of Practice’ involving local communities, policymakers and practitioners to help tackle urban planning and housing problems in major European cities.

Professor Simon Pemberton’s study has received £260,899 from the ESRC-supported JPI Urban Europe ‘Urban Migration' Programme, and will get underway in 2021.

The Empowering Cities of Migration project (EMPOWER) will create and train a new group of community-based researchers drawn from neighbourhoods across three European cities - Birmingham (UK), Gothenburg (Sweden) and Bochum (Germany) - which have recently experienced considerable changes in their populations as a consequence of international migration.

The aim is to develop a better understanding of the integration experiences and strategies of migrants in their own localities but through adopting a ‘whole community’ approach which considers the challenges and opportunities facing migrant and non-migrant communities.

The overall intention of the study is to empower local residents in these cities to work with housing, migration and planning specialists on creating new approaches to housing and integration, and which help to avoid segregation and exclusion in diverse urban places.

The study will also establish a new International Community of Practice to more effectively engage and empower citizens in cities with increasing population diversity, using the lessons learned from this research. In addition, the EMPOWER project will facilitate better gender-aware knowledge for migrant integration by engaging migrant women in the process of shaping housing provision in their communities.

Professor Pemberton said: “We are delighted to receive funding for our EMPOWER project - supported in the UK by the Economic and Social Research Council - which brings together the research of academic researchers, NGOs and other key stakeholders in three different countries to work on citizen empowerment and integration activities.

“The emphasis will be on exploring the ways in which local resources – including the use of new and existing property, public spaces, transport systems and health, employment and education facilities - can be used or re-purposed to meet the needs of all citizens living in diverse areas.”