Dr Clara Greed

Faculty of Environment and Technology, School of Planning and Architecture (University of the West of England)

Clara Greed’s research interests and background

I am an emerita professor of inclusive urban planning at UWE and now semi-retired but is still active in research, writing, travelling and campaigning. I am a member of the Royal Town Planning Institute and several other organisations concerned with the built environment. I am interested in urban social geography and urban social issues, and belong to the BSA, RGS, and the Institute of Ergonomics. I studied town planning at Cardiff (1967-1972). My interests are focused upon the built environment, architecture, professional education and practice, planning and urban social issues, all with an emphasis upon ‘planning for everyday life’, equality, accessibility and especially gender. I have become infamous for my research and publications on public toilet provision within the context of urban design and the social aspects of planning and creating ‘liveable cities’. Public toilets are the missing link in creating sustainable, equitable and accessible cities, and are an essential facility for people when walking, cycling and travelling by public transport. What may seem a minor matter is of direct relevance to transport policy and the mobility of women, the elderly and people with disabilities, and just about everyone else too! In recent years I have returned to my previous interest in urban theology and the relationship between religion and urban structure, and the emergence of the post-secular city, and there is a growing interest in this field amongst anthropologists, sociologists and urban geographers too. The link between toilets and places of worship is that they both ‘social facilities’ that cater for basic human needs but which are often trivialised, undervalued and overlooked by the planners along with all the other mundane, functional items of everyday life such as church halls, local parks, post offices and bus shelters.

Areas of expertise

Whist I am interested in all aspects of urban spatial and social policy, my expertise focuses upon the social aspects of planning and I have long worked on 'women and planning', gender, equality, disability, urban design, accessibility and other diversity. I have sought to relate my interest in gender and ‘feminism’ to the practical implications for urban policy and planning practice, that is praxis (putting theory into practice). I produced a Gender Mainstreaming Toolkit for the RTPI planners, in association with Dr Dory Reeves. I undertook, with my research team, a major project to investigate the extent to which gender was being taken into account in all UK local planning authorities. Likewise with toilets, I have also sought to change policy and levels of provision. I have served on British Standards committees and developed BS6456 Part 4 on Sanitary Installations which for the first time set requirements for public toilet provision. I am completing research with the Building Research Establishment on the revision of workplace toilet provision. I have also contributed to international toilet code standards (on restroom provision). I continue my interest in public toilets as ‘all human life is there’ they are contested spaces where many factors interact, including gender, sex, health, architecture, design, bodies , cultures and ethnicities inter alia! My toilet research has featured in several television documentaries; such as Loos for London produced with Carlton television; and it has generated a wide range of other media output.

Currently I am also investigating the problems that Pentecostal mega-churches in the UK have in trying to getting planning permission to house their large congregations whether they can, including in ex-cinemas, community centres, industrial units. Given that many such churches comprise African and other non-traditional congregations there is an added element of racism to address too, and a parallel situation exists in respect of mosque applications too. This involves looking at the restrictions presented by planning law, and at the ‘world view’ and subcultural values of the planners and other urban decision-makers. As can be seen from my list of publications I have also got involved in investigating and writing about the relationship between Hinduism, gender and space too and the whole issue of secular and post-secular societal changes internationally.

Range of Publications
My publications embody my research interests. I have published over 12 books starting with the book of my PhD published in 1991 which was an ethnographic study of women chartered surveyors, and the curious professional subculture of surveying. My books include research monographs with Routledge on gender and the planning and surveying professions; edited collections on urban design; and I created and edited a series on a range of town planning as well as several incarnations and revised editions of my introductory planning textbook. My book Inclusive Urban Design: Public Toilets , published by the Architectural Press, provides a comprehensive academic treatment of the subject and has contributed to the growth of the new field of ‘toiletology’. My work has been published in many international journals including my work on mainstreaming gender into planning policy in Urban Studies and other high level international journals. My research on Pentecostalism and planning forms the basis of my chapter in the collected volume Post Secular Cities. I have also published on ethnography, disability, gender, and education and professional practice matters, and done loads of conference presentations, invited guest lectures and many media items.

I have undertaken research funded by EPSRC (with UCL); ESRC and Nuffield; and with the support of the RTPI; RIBA, Construction Industry Council and Oxfam, on a range of gender, disability and toilet topics. I have developed a wider interest in toilet issues in the Developing World issues in respect of sanitation; drainage and human waste management and is a founding member of the World Toilet Organisation. I developed a strong relationship with China through my toilet research, but, also have been to many Far East countries, for example have in recent years been to Java (Indonesia) and more recently with African colleagues. I have also worked with the British Standards Institute, Building Research Establishment, UCL; RCA; and World Toilet Organisation. I maintain a range of links with those still researching ‘gender and the built environment’ as the problems are far from being solved. As for ‘urban theology’, I am a member of GloPent the international academic organisation researching global Pentecostalism; which was previously run by Heidelberg University and is now based at SOAS. I am a contributing expert to the AHRC Faith and Place Network


Dr Clara Greed
92 Hillside Road
BS20 8LJ Portishead, BRISTOL
United Kingdom

Telephone44 01275 844448