Social and population health impacts of neighbourhood changes after redevelopment of contaminated brownfield land

Currently recruiting

Supervisor: Daniela Fecht

Non-accademic partner: British Geological Survey

Studentship start date: 01/10/2024

Application deadline: 29th February 2024

The aim of this PhD research project is to create new scientific evidence on social and public health changes arising from the remediation of contaminated brownfield sites and their redevelopment.

Brownfield land is land, mostly in cities, that was previously developed but has since become vacant or derelict. In England, the brownfield land area suitable for housing in 2022 has reached ~28,000 hectares, with a large portion set aside for Government-driven redevelopment. Transforming brownfield land into residential housing helps with i) sustainable development, by conserving undeveloped land like green belts and ii) addressing the rising housing demand, especially for affordable housing. There is a particular acute need for brownfield redevelopment in cities, where pressure for new places to live and work is greatest.

Brownfield land remediation and redevelopment can lead to social and public health changes in local communities and surrounding neighbourhoods, which can be both positive and negative. When redevelopment is poorly planned, it can create issues around gentrification, social gradient, and social segregation. These impacts can be very large, as parts of society can be excluded from housing in cleaner and healthier areas and be marginalised to poorer areas that are more polluted and further away from green space and local amenities.

This PhD project will identify and describe the impact of brownfield redevelopment on indicators of social and public health changes. Information on sociodemographic characteristics (e.g., from the census and deprivation indices) and indicators of health (e.g., self-rated health, hospital admissions, mortality rates) will be collected at neighbourhood level, before and after redevelopment for specific case study areas. The project will identify case study areas which used to be heavily contaminated, are in deprived areas, and have recently been cleaned-up and redeveloped into housing. These areas will be studied in detail to understand whether social and public health changes have occurred after their remediation and redevelopment using spatial and temporal models.

The public will be involved throughout the project cycle via focus groups to inform the research design (e.g., specific indicators of change) and shape the dissemination strategy. Key stakeholders will be consulted via interviews to better understand their data needs to make informed decision around brownfield redevelopment. Project outputs will be shared via an end-of project translational workshop.

An internship will be completed as part of the PhD research where the student will work on translating the scientific evidence into useful policy and decision making outputs. This work will be conducted at the British Geological Survey over 9 weeks and will include the creation of a prototype digital decision support tool.

For more information including how to apply, please click here: LISS DTP CASE studentship in Social and population health impacts on brownfield land – MRC Centre (