Personal profile


Helen Zheng is a Lecturer in Planning and Environmental Management. She joined The University of Manchester as a Research Associate in 2017. In 2019, she was awarded the Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, working on a three-year research project - 'Can spatial decentralisation achieve sustainable urbanisation?'.  

The first strand of Helen's research focuses on sustainable urbanisation in China. She employs mixed research methods such as spatial analysis, statistical modelling, big data analytics, and various qualitative methods to probe into critical planning issues such as green infrastructure, community well-being, regeneration, mobility, and jobs-housing relationships in the context of rapid urbanisation in China.  

The second strand of Helen's research points to decision-making support in spatial planning. She utilises various quantitative indicators, as well as spatial analysis and modelling methods to unpack spatial patterns of planning issues. Her ongoing research projects are about understanding and addressing spatial inequality within the UK context.

Research interests

Urban regeneration, Urbanisation in China, Job-housing relationship, Spatial inequality, health inequality, GIS application in spatial planning


For the 2023 to 2024 academic year, I contribute to teaching in the following modules: 

  • Digital Planning - Spatial and Policy Analysis (PLAN40761/PLAN60761)
  • International Planning: System and Frameworks (PLAN40861 / PLAN60861)
  • Data Analytics for Planning and Real Estate (PLAN26041) (unit coordinator)
  • Applied Research for Planning and Real Estate (PLAN20172) (unit co-coordinator)
  • Dissertation [MSc Planning] (PLAN60090&EVDV60890&PLAN60550&60560) (unit coordinator)
  • Dissertation [UG] (PLAN30000) (unit coordinator)

Prizes and awards

  • Emerald 2016 Literati Award with the title of Highly Commended Paper (Title of the paper: “Critical issues in spatial distribution of public housing estates and their implications on urban renewal in Hong Kong”)
  • The Second Price of the seventh Innovation Competition in Construction Engineering and Management (ICCEM) organized by the Tsinghua University and sponsored by the Gammon Construction Company Limited. (Title of the report: “A smart data mining approach for detecting individuals’ activity travel behavior and its applications in urban and transport planning”)
  • Winner of CIB Sebestyén Future Leaders Award 2013. The proposed project is supported in collaboration with CIB Working Commission W116 -Smart and Sustainable Built Environment. (Title of the project is “Investigating the green building development in China.”)


I would be happy to hear from prospective PhD students with the research interests in the following areas: 

  • commuting and jobs-housing relationships
  • urban renewal/regeneration decision-making
  • urbanisation and sustainable development 
  • the application of GIS and advanced quantitative methods in spatial planning

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, A Multi-scale Decision Support Framework for Sustainable Urban Renewal in High-density Cities: A Case of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Polytechnic University

31 Aug 201231 Jan 2017

Award Date: 31 Jan 2017

Bachelor of Science, Urban and Rural Planning, Nanjing University

1 Sept 200830 Jun 2012

Award Date: 30 Jun 2012

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Digital Futures


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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