Ben Clifford is 'Lecturer in Spatial Planning and Government’ at the Bartlett School of Planning, University College London (UCL). Ben is a political geographer with research interests centred on the modernisation of the state, implementation of public sector reform, planning governance and policy, public engagement and the changing spaces of professionalism and the public sector in an age of neoliberalising governance.
Born and raised in the exciting ‘edge city’ of Croydon, Ben was educated at the University of St Andrews and King's College London. His PhD, “Planning at the Coalface: British Local Authority Planners and the Experience of Planning and Public Sector Reform”, was cofunded by the ESRC and the then Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and examined how local authority planners, as ‘street-level’ professionals, were reacting to New Labour’s reforms of the planning system whilst they were helping to implement them. This has now been publsihed as a book, "The Collaborating Planner? Practitioners in the Neoliberal Age", in which he argues that ‘the coalface’ has a vital role in shaping the contours of modernisation and for a more implementation-focused examination of state reforms.
During the course of this PhD research, Ben was seconded for three months to work in Communities and Local Government (the government department responsible for planning in England) to assist with the LDF team’s major consultation on planning reform and the subsequent redrafting of the planning policy statement on local spatial planning and accompanying best practice manual. This initial secondment was then followed by a further three month period spent working as a policy advisor on the secretariat of the Killian Pretty Review, a national review of the planning application process.
In addition to his teaching and research duties, Ben serves as the Programme Director for the MSc Spatial Planning degree course and as the MSc Tutor for the Bartlett School of Planning.