Mike Grace

Mike’s background is in town and country planning and sustainable land use and his professional experience includes planning roles at Telford Development Corporation working on commercial and industrial growth, Manager of the Local Plans team at Telford and Wrekin Council, Head of Planning Services at Carlisle City Council addressing major development challenges, Regional Director Countryside Agency in the West Midlands. 

Until the autumn of 2016, Mike was Head of Profession for Sustainable Land Use with Natural England and helped to commission a range of advice and evidence related to sustainable land use at the local and landscape scale. In particular to develop the acceptance of green and blue infrastructure into environmental strategies and delivery. This included collaborative engagement with All Party Parliamentary Groups, Government Departments, the Welsh Government and other agencies

Between 2011 and 2014, Mike led the volunteer group which developed the Much Wenlock Neighbourhood Plan, one of the 17 UK national front-runners and the first in the West Midlands to be ‘made’.

In January 2017, Mike joined BCU as a researcher on the Urban Living Birmingham project, one of five UK Research Council funded ‘urban living partnership’ projects. This research was a collaboration with Warwick, Aston and Birmingham Universities and Birmingham City Council. This explored the tricky interdisciplinary problems facing Birmingham and identified the conceptual interface between smart and natural city discourses, at the interface between Smart cities and Natural cities. This is new conceptual ground that can potentially help integrate the ways cities and urban areas develop more effectively.

Mike is interested in research that can help integrate policies and solutions for urban futures. In particular, how using blue and green infrastructure can create sustainable land use and new ways of regenerating and managing urban areas that deliver benefits to citizens. Working from the outputs of the ULB project, Mike is currently exploring with local businesses and the community how the smart-natural city concepts can be applied to the regeneration of the Tyseley and Hay Mills area of Birmingham.

Mike would welcome collaborations with organisations keen to innovate new ways of using green infrastructures for more sustainable urban futures.  

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