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Professor Kathy Pain

Professor of Real Estate Development

Kathy Pain 75iy0lki6


  • Processes of urbanization, agglomeration and city integration in the networked world economy;, 
  • Intersections between the practices and global location strategies of advanced international financial and business services, and commercial real estate investment;, 
  • Mega-city region economic change and spatial development, policy and sustainablity.


HBS 220, Whiteknights campus

Kathy’s research focuses on sustainable city and regional development, governance and planning under conditions of contemporary globalization. She is a Co-Director of the Globalization & World Cities (GaWC) Research Network leading GaWC’s Global City Planning research.

Kathy has served on the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) 'Vision for Cities' Global Sustainability Task Group, is a member of the UK Smart Cities All Party Parliamentary Group, the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership Industrial Productivity Commission, the Institut Louis Bachelier Business School Scientific Council, Paris, and is an Expert Advisor to Chengdu Municipal Government and the Guangzhou Academy of Social Science Urban Strategy Research Institute, China.

Drawing on her interdisciplinary/practitioner-academic background, Kathy’s research links rigorous quantitative and qualitative data directly to policy and practitioner end-users, shedding light on dynamic relationships between complex macro- and micro-development drivers associated with international business and commercial real estate. She is a member of the UK ESRC Peer Review College.

Kathy’s research into associations between urban density and risk-adjusted investment returns is being drawn on in a five years study funded by the UK Medical Research Council exploring how the development industry can support long term resilient human health and well-being. Her engagement as an expert has included the UK, Europe, North America, the Middle East and the Pacific Asia region; examples include: the UK Treasury Fourth Economic Test for entry to Economic Monetary Union on the financial services industry and City wholesale markets; South East England Statutory Regional Policy Guidance Review; Canada's Asia Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative; China’s global mega-city region development; Abu Dhabi global city development strategy; United States mega-region development; regional development planning for the Sydney global city-region; and strategy for the East Asian Pan-Yellow Sea Region.


  • PhD (Reading)
  • Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Diploma in Town Planning
  • RTPI Corporate Member
  • Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society / Institute of British Geographers

Current PhD students

Ijeoma Emeghe: Housing Quality and Mental Well-being Valuation. First supervisor

Martyna Surma: Growing Entrepreneurship through Sustainable Urban Planning. First supervisor

Medical Research Council UKPRP, ‘Tackling the Root Causes of Unhealthy Planning, Economics and Decision-making: An Urban Systems Approach, (TRUED Urban Systems)’, 2019-2014.

China Municipal Government / National Business Daily, ‘Global Chengdu: An Analysis of Chengdu’s Position in the Global Economy’, 2018.

Urban Land Institute / New Climate Economy, ‘Supporting Smart Urban Growth: Successful Investing in Density’, 2016-17.

European Spatial Observation Network (ESPON), Continental Territorial Structures and Flows (Globalization): ‘TIGER: Territorial Impact of Globalization for Europe and its Regions’, 2010–2012.

Reading Community Interest Company / Reading Diamond Forum, ‘The Reading Diamond Local Economic Assessment’, 2010.

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), ‘Benchmarking the World City Network: City Connectivities on the Eve of the Financial Crisis’, 2009–2010.

National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, ‘Project to map and measure the absorptive capacity of UK cities and regions’, 2008.

European Commission INTERREG IIIB North-West Europe, ‘POLYNET: Sustainable Management of European Polycentric Mega-City Regions’, 2003-2006.