Ian Mell


  • Rm. 1.61 Humanities Bridgeford Street

    M13 9PL Manchester

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

Personal profile


Ian joined the University of Manchester in 2017 from the University of Liverpool where he worked in was a Lecturer in Environmental Planning (2012-2017) in the Department of Geography & Planning. 

Ian is one of the UK’s leading academic researchers working on Green Infrastructure planning, urban greening, and landscape policy examining the relationship between policy/practice in the discussion, development and evaluation of urban greening. This provides scope to evaluate the changing landscape of planning policy and its impacts upon the delivery of sustainable or meaningful places. 

Ian's work focusses on issues of Green Infrastructure financing, the role of perceptions in sustainable cities, and the influence of various actors on the decision-making process for environmental management. Part of this process is developing a better understanding of how rhetoric and delivery differ in the planning and management of cities. 

Ian has received funding from NERC, the Valuing Nature project, RTPI, Defra/Natural England and the Newton Fund to support. He has also worked with UN Habitat and the Landscape Research Group.    

Ian has degrees from Northumbria University (BSc), University of Sussex (MSc), and Newcastle University (PhD), and experience of teaching in the UK, China, India and Europe. He has also worked in practice in Local Government and with consultants in the UK, Europe and internationally. This enable him to bring together National/Local Government and practical policy-making/delivery experiences into the teaching and research environment through a practical understanding of how policy is formed, how decision-making occurs, and how implementation is delivered. 

Outside of academia Ian has experience of green infrastructure practice working with Community Forests in North-East England (2005-2008), and as a Green Infrastructure Development Officer in East Cambridgeshire (2009-2011) where he coordinated the delivery of the £1 million Ely Country Park Project. He was also a strategic partner in the production of the 2nd Cambridgeshire Green Infrastructure Strategy (Cambridgeshire Horizons, 2011), and a lead author of the Liverpool Green & Open Space Review (2015-16). 



Humanities New Acaedemic Programme (HNAP) Teaching Portfolio (2018)

PG Certificate in Certification of Professional Service (CPS), University of Liverpool (2015)

PhD Architecture, Planning and Landscape, University of Newcastle (2010)

MSc Social Research Methods (Human Geography), Univerrsity of Sussex (2003)

BSc Geography & Environmental Management, Northumbria University (2001)

Research interests

Green Infrastructure Planning

I am interested in the intersections between human activity, environmental change and planning policy. This focuses on the development of a Green Infrastructure approach to urban planning that illustrates the value of urban greening in promoting multi-functionality, landscape connectivity and a better quality of place. By investigating how urban environments are designed, planned and managed my work reflects on how we value landscape resources and what can do to improve the long-term sustainability of our cities.

To investigate the value of Green Infrastructure my research explores a number of diverse issues including: financing urban greening, health and well-being, policy formation and implementation, understanding and perceptions of green spaces, and the links between people, place and environmental quality. 

My research specifically questions how, and why, we develop Green Infrastructure in urban areas to meet social, economic and environmental needs. This research draws on case studies from the UK, Europe and globally in the USA, India and China. This includes working with Prof. Jack Ahern (UMass, Amherst) on urban greening in North America, Maggie Roe (Newcastle, UK) on green infrastructure policy and practice, and with colleagues at XJTLU on urban greening issues in China.  

My recent work on the Valuing Attractive Landscapes in the Urban Economy (VALUE) project with Prof. John Henneberry and Dr Berna Keskin (University of Sheffield) explored the economic imperatives for investment in green spaces, Whilst my UKNA Fellowship with Ass. Prof. Sejal Patel and Prof. Saswat Banyopadhyay at CEPT University looked at the establishing an ecological rationale for investing in urban green networks. Historically, I have received ESRC, Natural England/Defra and University of Liverpool funding to support my research into green infrastructure and landscape planning.  

PhD Opportunities/Topics

I am always interested in hearing students wishing to pursue PhDs investigating aspects of green infrastructure. If you are interested in researching how human and environmental actions influence greenspace or green infrastructure planning please get in touch. Previous topics have included: 

- Financing Green Infrastructure - valuing GI and other ecosystem services 
- The role of communicative planning in greenspace management in China
- Community-scale Green Infrastructure planning: theory and practice 
- The development, management and value of urban green space systems in China
- The growing functionality of urban agriculture in China

Landscape perception and cultural understandings of place

How we look at, imagine and decipher the landscapes around us has a significant impact on our use of them. My research interests in landscape perceptions are two-fold. Firstly I examine how the use of specific 'issues' of 'frames' such as health or economic value can be used to support individual and communal understandings of socio-economic relationships with the landscapes. Secondly, I am interested in how students from different cultural backgrounds interpret landscapes to explore whether there are specific geo-spatial patterns or representations in the landscape which are deemed valuable. 

The geographical focus of this work is predominately UK based examining how the perceived understanding of rural landscapes and the ever changing urban realm is influences how and what we value. This is of particular importance when we discuss the protection of the 'rural idyll' but also if, and when, we consider the development of new urban spaces, as we need to understand the cultural, as well as, the economic and environmental values attributed to places in order to rationalise the impacts of change.

Memberships of committees and professional bodies

Higher Education Academy (2015): Fellow

Landscape Institute (2009 onwards): Full Academic Member

Town and Country Planning Association (2012 onwards): Full member 

2016 to date

Landscape Institute Green Belt review group

2015 to date

Liverpool City Council Green & Open Space Review Board - Board Member for Mayoral Commission and key author of Interim and Final reports

2012 to date

TCPA/Defra UK Green Infrastructure Partnership members

Activities and esteem

Chair of Building with Nature (BwN) Standards Board (2022-2025)

Author Liverpool Green & Open Space Review (2015-16) 

PI - Newton Fund Researcher Links Workshop with University of Brasilia - Rethinking the Green City (2019)

PI - Landscape Research Group Beyond the Peacelines project with colleagues from the universities of Liverpool, Salford, Ulster and Brighton (2018/19).

Associate Editor - Urban Forestry & Urban Greening (2019 onwards)

Associate Editor - Engineering Sustainability (2016 onwards)



PLAN30000 Dissertation (UG) (Unit Contribution)

PLAN30852 / 40852 / 60852 Green Infrastructure & Sustainable Cities (Coure Unit Director)

PLAN60000 Dissertation (PGT) (Unit Contribution)

PLAN64001 Green Infrastructure: Principles, Policies & Practice 1 (Course Unit Director) 

GEOG64002 Green Infrastructure: Principles, Policies & Practice 1 Field Class (Berlin) (Unit contribution)

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 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Architecture, Planning & Landscape , Newcastle University

Award Date: 30 Jun 2010

Master in Science, MSc Social Research Methods (Human Geography) , University of Sussex

Award Date: 31 Oct 2003

Bachelor of Science, Geography & Environmental Management , Northumbria University

Award Date: 30 Jun 2001

External positions

Editorial Board - Urban Forestry & Urban Greening

2020 → …

Editor (Special Issues on GI/Greening Cities)

2019 → …

Erasmus Mobility Scholar, Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University

Dec 2016

Visiting Research Fellow, Centre for Environmental Planning & Technology (CEPT)

1 Jun 201430 Sept 2100

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Sustainable Futures
  • Policy@Manchester
  • Digital Futures
  • Manchester Urban Institute


  • Green Infrastructure
  • Landscape Planning
  • Environmental Policy
  • Landscape Perceptions
  • Planning Policy


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