On the 14th March we hosted the first IPM research seminar of the year, which, for the first time, we livestreamed!. As result, we were joined by a number of our international members and staff from Corfu, Russia and Spain. The event was also well attended in person with 40 people making the trip to The Manchester Metropolitan Business School, to hear about the latest research from our members.

First up research seminar first timer, Dr Becky Alexis-Martin, Lecturer in Cultural and Political Geography at Manchester Metropolitan, discussed her most recent paper “Geographies of Nuclear Warfare”. Becky’s fascinating talk looked a range of nuclear locations including Chernobyl, Hiroshima and Los Alamos. Becky discussed the role of ‘nuclearity’ in place-making as well as the challenges and opportunities presented by a locations’ nuclear identity. Becky concluded by mentioning challenges can be overcome by embracing the often dark past and heritage in these areas. 

Dr Neil Pye, a recently elected Fellow of the Institute of Place Management, discussed the first New Town in North West England, Skelmersdale (1961). The New Towns scheme was aimed to improve living and working conditions in towns damaged by the war, however it didn’t quite work out for the town locally know known as “Skem”. Neil discussed what went wrong in Skelmerdale, which saw renewed development in 2012 in the form of £20 million vision strategy. Neil showed some of the redevelopment work in Skelmerdale including the Findon and Firbank housing revival scheme. Neil argued Skelmerdale has suffered from a lack of governance and leadership as well as poor infrastructure and transport links.

Dr Laura Reynolds, Policy and Data Analyst for City-REDI at Birmingham University, and long-time member of the IPM, discussed her latest research on the topic of place branding. Laura’s latest research looks at participatory place branding and stakeholders role in place brands. Laura discussed the key players in her place branding case-studies, stating the local authority still remain influential whilst the business community are gaining additional input. Laura summarised by concluding participatory place brand stills remains more rhetoric than reality.

Next up Paul Preston presented his ongoing PhD research on brownfield sites. His, work is being supervised by IPM Fellow Gina Cavan. Paul started his presentation by looking at numerous definitions of brownfield sites and tackling some common misconceptions about brownfield areas. Paul stated brownfield sites are often perceived negatively, with many describing them as wastelands as well as derelict and degraded spaces. This negative narrative is re-enforced in the media, however, in reality many brownfield areas are very different. Paul argued many brownfield sites are diverse spaces, abundant with wildlife and vegetation. Paul’s PhD focusses on how changes to brownfield land impact urban resilience adaptation to climate-related hazards in urban areas within Greater Manchester.

IPM co-chair Prof Cathy Parker discussed the institute’s latest work on high street policy. Cathy started her presentation by discussing the evolution of high street policy from Town Centre Management in 1987 up to the present day. Cathy’s discussed IPM’s involvement in recent policy research, paying particular reference to the recent IPM publication ‘High Street 2030: Achieving Change’ which was released alongside the government’s High Street Report, and drew heavily on the findings of Dr Nikos Ntounis’ comprehensive PhD, focussing on place management in the UK.

Although Cathy has attended most of IPM’s research seminar and knows the rules, she had to be cut off by the dreaded whistle!

IPM Director Prof Ares Kalandides discussed his most recent ongoing writing project, the Routledge Handbook of Place. Ares gave the audience a sneak preview into what the book, co-edited by IPM Fellow Dr Tim Edensor, will contain. The handbook will explore the multiple meanings of place and involves some of the most influential writers on place geographies including Doreen Massey and Tim Cresswell. Ares is currently working on Section 6 of the handbook entitled ‘Economies of Place’, which includes 10 separate chapters! Ares was still waiting for two chapters in this section. You know who you are! The book is due to be published at the end of the year.

Last but by no means least, long time IPM member and ecology enthusiast Nick Catahan (Edgehill University) discussed his latest research. Nick grappled with a number of terms surrounding place ecology throughout his talk. Nick started off by defining place ecology, ‘interdisciplinary place management studies leading to effective place management and development’. Nick went to discuss other related terms including place ecosystems, place phenology and ending with the suggestion that we were all place ecologists.