Gavin is Chair of Planning Studies. A chartered planner Professor Parker maintains a strong research interest in citizenship, participation and governance in land, planning and development. He is interested in the relationship between land and people and considerations of property rights and conflict over land use. This interest spans the urban and rural divide and a number of policy fields. He has maintained a thread of research that is concerned with interactions and tensions between actors involved in planning and development throughout his research career. This has been manifest in the body of work he has produced on participation in planning and on neighbourhood planning in England.
Gavin has been actively researching community and neighbourhood planning with numerous reports and publications that have been shaping policy agendas in this area. He has also been exploring the changing nature of planning and the profession, including the shifting roles of the public, private and third sector. He has a keen interest in the application of theory to practice and seeks to demonstrate the value of theory in his research and teaching.
Gavin accepted a secondment to the Royal Town Planning Institute between 2012-2014 as one of the three executive directors. His responsibilities included: education, membership, regions, professional standards and Planning Aid England. His work with Planning Aid continued and extended his interest and expertise in neighbourhood planning and community engagement. Gavin chaired the Community Council for Berkshire from 2006 to 2011. He is currently a secretary of state appointed board member of the New Forest National Park Authority (appointed 2017) and is a Trustee of the Reading YMCA. Gavin has also developed a particular interest in land use, community and policy in Japan and he has been a visiting professor at the University of Tokyo and held funded visiting fellow posts there as well as at Tsukuba and Seikei Universities.
Amongst numerous academic and policy oriented publications Gavin has authored four books: Citizenships, Contingency and the Countryside (Routledge, 2002); the well-received text Key Concepts in Planning (Sage, 2012) with Joe Doak; Enabling Participatory Planning (2018, Policy Press) with Emma Street; and Neighbourhood Planning in Practice (Lund Humphries, 2019) with Kat Salter and Matt Wargent which won the RTPI research prize for public engagement in 2019.