Dr Matthew Wargent

British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Matthew Wargent

Dr Matthew Wargent

Real Estate & Planning Research Committee Member
Real Estate & Planning
EM 168, Whiteknights Campus
+44 (0) 118 378 5415



Matthew’s research focuses on public participation, urban planning and local governance. His current research explores the role of rationality in the production of local planning policy, in particular how non-state actors - such as local communities and private consultants - impact democratic decision-making.

Much of Matthew’s research concentrates on democratic participation, including his doctoral research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, that explored the role of conflict in local decision-making using Neighbourhood Planning as a case study. This has led to involvement in two national evaluations of Neighbourhood Planning commissioned by the Ministry of Communities, Housing and Local Government. In 2019, alongside co-authors Gavin Parker and Kat Salter, Matthew’s book Neighbourhood Planning in Practice was the recipient of the Royal Town Planning Institute’s Sir Peter Hall Research Excellence Award.

Prior to joining the University of Reading, Matthew held research posts at the University of Sheffield and University College London.


  • PhD Sociology, University of Sheffield
  • MA Sociology and Management, University of Essex
  • BA (Hons) Social Policy and Sociology, University of Sheffield


Public participation; urban planning; local governance; localism; power.

Recent conference papers

‘Local governance and the private sector: the role of consultants in the English planning system’, paper presented to Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers, Washington D.C., 4 April 2019.

Selected Research Grants

Generating Effective Planning Cultures. David Robins Research Fund (£10,615), Co-Investigator, 2019-2020.

Impact of Neighbourhood Planning in England. Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (£63,039.50), Co-Investigator, 2019-2020.

The Politics of Private Sector Provision in Local Governance. British Academy (£269,940.60), Principal Investigator, 2018-2021.


View a full list of Dr Matthew Wargent's publications

Key Publications

Wargent, M. and Tasan-Kok, T. (2020) 'The future of the planning profession: searching for a better place', Planning Theory & Practice, in press.

Wargent, M. and Parker, G. (2020) 'The future of participation in planning', Planning Theory & Practice, in press.

Wargent, M. and Talen, E. (2020) 'Rethinking neighbourhoods', Town Planning Review, in press.

Wargent, M. (2020) ‘Localism, governmentality and failing technologies: the case of neighbourhood planning in England’, Territory, Politics, Governance, published online 4 May 2020. doi.org/10.1080/21622671.2020.1737209.

Wargent, M., Parker, G. and Street, E. (2020) ‘Private expertise and the spatial reorganisation of planning in England’, in Jonas, A.E.G., Koch, N., Lizotte, C., Luukkonen, J. and Moisio, S. (eds.) Handbook on the Changing Geographies of the State: New Spaces of Geopolitics, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar, in press.

Wargent, M., Parker, G. and Street, E. (2020) ‘Public-private entanglements: consultant use by local planning authorities in England’, European Planning Studies, 28(1): 192-210. doi.org/10.1080/09654313.2019.1677565.

Parker, G., Street, E. and Wargent, M. (2019) ‘Advocates, advisors and scrutineers: the technocracies of private sector planning in England’, in Raco, M. and Savini, F. (eds.) Planning and Knowledge: How New Forms of Technocracy are Shaping Contemporary Cities, Bristol, Policy Press, pp.157-167. ISBN 9781447345268.

Parker, G., Salter, K. and Wargent, M. (2019) Neighbourhood Planning in Practice, London, Lund Humphries. ISBN 9781848222830.

Wargent, M. and Parker, G. (2018) ‘Re-imagining neighbourhood governance: the future of neighbourhood planning in England’, Town Planning Review, 89(4): 379-402. doi.org/10.3828/tpr.2018.23.

Parker, G., Street, E. and Wargent, M. (2018) ‘The rise of the private sector in fragmentary planning in England’, Planning Theory & Practice, 19(5): 734-750. doi.org/10.1080/14649357.2018.1532529.

Parker, G., Lynn, T. and Wargent, M. (2017) ‘Contestation and conservatism in neighbourhood planning in England: reconciling agonism and collaboration?’, Planning Theory & Practice, 18(3): 446-465. doi.org/10.1080/14649357.2017.1316514.

Parker, G., Lynn, T. and Wargent, M. (2015) ‘Sticking to the script? The co-production of neighbourhood planning in England’, Town Planning Review, 86(5): 519-536. doi.org/10.3828/tpr.2015.31.