Skip to main content
Alison Brown

Professor Alison Brown

Professor of Urban Planning & International Development

School of Geography and Planning

+44 29208 76519
Glamorgan Building, Room Room 2.70, King Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3WA


Alison Brown is Professor of Urban Planning and International Development in the School of Geography and Planning, and Director for the Master’s in International Planning and Development. She is an urban planner and development policy expert with international experience in academia and professional practice in over 30 different countries, in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. She is convenor of the School’s Informality Research Observatory.

Her research focuses on urban planning and development in emerging and post-conflict cities, urban livelihoods, protracted displacement and refugee economies. She is part of a winning consortium recently awarded GCRF funding entitled Out of Camp or Out of Sight: Realigning Protracted Displacement in an Urban World. She has led several large research projects under the ESRC/DFID Joint Fund for Poverty Alleviation and the ESRC/DFID Growth Research Programme, on law, rights and regulation in the informal economy; micro-finance regulation for urban micro-enterprises, and economic recovery in post-conflict cities. She has studied refugee economies in Ethiopia, and the poverty impacts of the China/Africa trade on African markets.

Alison has published on the informal economy, refugee economies and rights-based approaches to development, and has undertaken research and consultancy for UN-Habitat, the ESRC, UK's DFID, Defra and DCLG, and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). She was an advisor on DFID's Evidence on Demand service on climate, environment and livelihoods and wrote specialist Topic Guides on Livelihoods and Urbanisation and Planning for Sustainable and Inclusive Cities in the Global South. She is editor of the Commonwealth e-Journal of Local Governance, and is a member of several advisory committees.

Alison also has extensive experience in planning practice in the UK, working as consultant to central and local government, private sector clients, community groups and NGOs. She has experience in planning applications and appeals, as an expert witness at planning inquiries, and in preparing research reports as inputs to development plans.


















  • Brown, A. M. B. and Lloyd-Jones, T. 2002. Spatial planning, access and infrastructure. In: Rakodi, C. I. and Lloyd-Jones, T. eds. Urban Livelihoods: A People-Centred Approach to Reducing Poverty. London: Earthscan, pp. 188-204.



Book sections






Planning practice in emerging cities, spatial planning, the management of informal economies, particularly street and market trade, and the impacts of globalisation on the informal economy. Recent research and academic projects on public space and urban livelihoods, the impact of the China-Africa trade on urban markets, and the right to the city.


Inclusive Growth: Improving Microfinance Regulation to Support Growth and Innovation in Micro-enterprise, ESRC/DFID Award ES/J009369/1 ESRC.

Making Space for the Poor: Law, Rights and Regulation for Street Traders in the 21st Century, ESRC/DFID Award RES-167-25-0591.

rscw4africa - Wales for Africa Initiative: Strategy and Action Plan (Regeneration Skills Collective, Wales).

Making a Living in the Street: Public Space as an Asset for Sustainable Livelihoods, DFID, Committee for Social Science Research responsive research project. Principal Investigator case studies: Nepal, Ghana, Lesotho, and Tanzania.  

Scoping Study for the UK-China Sustainable Development Dialogue (DFID, Defra, DCLG and WSP International).

Completion Notices (S94 of Town & County Planning Act, 1991) (Department of the Environment, Transport & the Regions).


Alison Brown is a professional town planner, trained at the Universities of Nottingham and Liverpool.  She worked in London for Westminster City Council, Newham Council and the Town & Country Planning Association, before working as a consultant in Oman, Qatar and Jordan. She returned to the UK to set up a professional planning practice.  Since joining Cardiff University, she has developed research expertise in urban development challenges in the developed and developing world.

Professional memberships

  • Visiting Professor, Dipartimento di Ingegneria Civile, Ambientale e Architettura,
  • Università delgi Studi di Cagliari, Keynote speech INPUT 2012 Conference,
  • Trustee, Homeless International
  • Visiting Professor: Dipartimento di Ingegneria Civile, Ambientale e Architettura, Università degli studi di Cagliari, funded by the Regional Government of Sardinia. (2010)
  • Steering Group Member: UN-HABITAT's World Urban Campaign.
  • Expert: UNESCO project on Social and Spatial Inclusion of Migrants in the City.
  • Consultant: UN-HABITAT/UNESCO project on Urban Policies and the Right to the City : Rights, responsibilities and citizenship.
  • Planning Advisor Inclusive Cities Project, (WIEGO) Women in Informal Employment.
  • Planning Advisor, Technology, Infrastructure and Urban Planning Resource Centre (TI-UP),Department for International Development with WSP International.
  • Sustainable communities. Department for International Development. Coodinator of DFID-funded Higher Education link, Universidad del Biobio, Concepciòn, and Municipalidad de Concepciòn, Chile, and Cardiff University, (2002 - 2007).
  • Diploma in 'Habitation & Development' Universidad del Biobio. Lectures on sustainable development, (2001).
  • Responsive Urban Design, Department for International Development. Professional practice workshop in Harare. Establishing national CPD programme, (1999).
  • Urban Design in the African City. Department for International Development. Coodinator of DFID-funded Higher Education link, Department of Rural & Urban Planning, University of Zimbabwe, and Cardiff University, (1997 - 2001).
  • Planning advice, Ordnance Survey International. Advice on DFID-funded consultancy in Lesotho, (1997 - 1998).
  • Practical Planning Skills, Overseas Development Administration. Running training course for all professional planners in the Federal Department of Physical Planning, Ministry of Interior in Maseru, Lesotho, (1996).
  • Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute's Development Planning Advisory Panel (1998 - 2004).
  • Trustee: Ruskin Mill Further Education Trust, Special Needs Educational Charity with over 100 employees (2003 - date).