Academic profile

Prof. Claire Colomb is Professor of Land Economy (Planning, Public Policy and Urban Studies). She has a first degree in Social and Political Sciences from Sciences Po Paris (1998) and a PhD in Town Planning from University College London (2008). She is a chartered Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute (MRTPI), elected Fellow of the UK Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS), and Associate Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy (AFHEA). Prior to joining the University of Cambridge, she was Professor of Urban Studies and Planning at the Bartlett School of Planning, University College London (2005-2023) and project developer for the European transnational co-operation programme INTERREG IIIB North-West Europe (2002-2004). Over the past 25 years she has lived, worked and researched in France, the UK, Germany and Spain (Catalonia).


Her expertise and research interests span urban and regional planning; public policy; urban studies, politics and sociology (see details below). She is the author of the book Staging the New Berlin: Place Marketing and the Politics of Urban Reinvention post-1989 (Routledge, 2011); co-author of the book European Spatial Planning and Territorial Cooperation (Routledge, 2010, with S. Dühr and V. Nadin), and co-editor of Protest and Resistance in the Tourist City (Routledge, 2016, with J. Novy). She is the Co-President (2023-2027) (with Prof. Alberta Andreotti) of RC21, the Research Committee on the Sociology of Urban and Regional Development of the International Sociological Association (ISA), the leading international scientific network in urban sociology and urban studies.


She has a strong record of public engagement with professional communities and policy-makers, having presented evidence or offered advice to, inter alia, the London Borough of Hackney, the City Government of Barcelona, the UK House of Lords’ Built Environment Committee and the European Commission. Her recent report on the regulation of platform-mediated short-term rentals in Europe (2021), with Dr Tatiana Moreira de Souza, was awarded the 2022 RTPI Sir Peter Hall Award for Excellence in Research and Engagement. She has also engaged in voluntary collaborations with citizens’ groups on planning and urban development issues.


Claire Colomb currently lectures on the undergraduate courses “The Built Environment” (Paper 10) and “Planning Policy and Practice” (Paper 14) in the Land Economy Tripos; and coordinates and co-delivers the postgraduate course “Urban and Environmental Planning” (PGR01). Her teaching combines UK and international urban and regional planning, public policy, urban studies, politics and sociology. She aims to embed the role of social sciences in the education of future built environment professionals, to foster critical thinking in the analysis of urban and regional development processes and policy interventions (in particular their social equity impacts).


She has been regularly invited as guest lecturer and contributor to postgraduate programmes in various institutions outside the UK, e.g. France (University of Lille, Sciences Po Paris), Germany (TU Darmstadt), Spain (University of Barcelona, Autonomous University of Barcelona) and Belgium (KU Leuven, Free University of Brussels (VUB)).

Research interests

Claire Colomb’s research interests are broadly concerned with the socio-political conflicts around land uses, urban development processes and the role of planning and public policies in shaping the transformation of the built environment. She draws on approaches from social and political sciences to unpack the public debates, tensions, collaborations and trade-offs between state, market and civil society actors in the governance and regulation of land uses at different scales. She has a track record of obtaining research funding in the form of fellowships (EU Marie Curie programme, German Humboldt Foundation), EU- and ESRC-funded collaborative grants, and smaller research grants (e.g. Property Research Trust). The geographical focus of her research has, so far, been primarily on Europe (UK, France, Germany, Spain) – with international collaborations and publications in English, French, Spanish, Catalan and German. She is currently working to expand her research to South America and India, and is due to complete an MSc in Politics (South Asia) from SOAS University of London in 2024.


Her contributions to international scholarship cut across two broad areas, which reflect her dual background as a social scientist (trained in sociology and politics) and urban and regional planner:


1) Urban & regional planning and European public policies:

  • Comparative spatial planning systems and practices and the changing politics of planning
  • The impact of the European Union on spatial planning and territorial development policies and the ‘Europeanisation’ of public policies
  • Devolution, territorial politics and spatial planning in the UK and Europe


She has made key contributions that show how planning and more broadly spatial development policies have been reshaped in a European multi-level governance system under the influence of EU policies, regional decentralisation and devolution processes, and new forms of cross-border and transnational cooperation. The book European Spatial Planning and Territorial Cooperation (Routledge, 2010, jointly authored with Prof. Stefanie Dühr and Prof. Vincent Nadin) was described as an ‘incredibly complete, encyclopaedia-like opus … [and] superb achievement’ that has become the ‘standard reference for students, lecturers, practitioners and researchers in the field of European spatial planning’ (Waterhout, 2011). A second edition of the book is under writing. Her work on the relationship between sub-state nationalism and spatial planning agendas in Scotland, Catalonia and Flanders (jointly with Prof. John Tomaney) has thrown light on an under-researched aspect of contemporary territorial politics in contested European states. In this broad area of research, she has combined several disciplines and strands of scholarship: EU studies (regionalism/sub-state nationalism, territorial politics, Europeanisation); political and urban geography (state rescaling, regional devolution, policy mobilities); planning studies; and political sociology (policy learning, sociology of nationalism).


2) The contentious politics of urban development - urban governance, public policies and social mobilisations in a comparative perspective:

  • The contested politics of urban entrepreneurialism
  • The politics of culture and memory in urban space
  • The social equity impacts of urban and planning policies
  • Urban social movements and citizens’ activism around urban development and planning issues
  • The implications of platform capitalism and ‘platform real estate’ for cities, urban governance and public policies
  • ‘New municipalism’ and progressive city governments
  • The contested politics and social equity impacts of urban ecological/sustainability transitions
  • International comparison in urban studies and debates on global comparative urbanism


Her early research investigated the politics of urban development and city marketing in post-1989 Berlin – a metropolis that epitomised multiple processes of transition to a capital city, post-industrial city, post-conflict city and post-socialist city, and was the object of complex debates surrounding urban planning, collective memory and identity construction. Her book Staging the New Berlin (2011, Routledge) received highly positive reviews in journals such as Urban Studies, the Journal of Urban Affairs, Planning Perspectives, and Urban Research & Practice. She subsequently developed a strong interest in the social impacts of urban policies; how such policies cater for social ‘difference’; and the social movements and mobilisations that arise from contested urban planning and regeneration policies in European cities. Those themes were explored through small and large projects at the intersection between urban politics, sociology and planning, e.g. on the impacts of culture-led urban regeneration policies on vulnerable social groups in the Lille city-region; on New Labour’s urban policies; on Neighbourhood Planning in London; on urban policies and ethno-cultural diversity in European cities (EU-funded DIVERCITIES project); and on the conflicts around ‘touristification’ and new social demands for the regulation of the visitor economy in Barcelona (see edited book Protest and Resistance in the Tourist City (2016) and related publications with Dr Johannes Novy). In this strand of work, she has sought to enrich insights from critical urban studies and urban political economy with sociological approaches to planning, public policy, social mobilisations and collective action.


She is currently completing a jointly authored book with Dr Thomas Aguilera (Sciences Po Rennes) and Dr Francesca Artioli (Université Paris Est - Ecole d’Urbanisme de Paris), which analyses how and why the global phenomenon of platform-mediated short-term rentals has been met with very different forms of politicisation and regulatory responses in 12 European cities. The book (forthcoming, 2024, Wiley-Blackwell) will contribute to debates on the rise of ‘platform capitalism’ and its implications for cities; on global mobility flows and the contested impacts of the urban visitor economy; and on the transformation of urban housing markets under the shift to asset-based capitalism. This comparative project was born from collaboration and intellectual exchanges with the members of the research network ‘What is governed and not governed in the large metropolis’ led by Sciences Po Paris (Cities are Back in Town research group), with London (UCL Bartlett School of Planning), Milan (University Milano-Bicocca), São Paolo (University of São Polo, Centre for Metropolitan Studies) and México City (Colegio de México).


Claire Colomb is currently developing further research on the implications of ‘platform real estate’ for cities and urban governance; on the contested politics and social equity impacts of urban ecological/sustainability transitions; and on urban social movements, ‘new municipalism’ and progressive city governments in an era of resurgent populism and nationalism (Europe/South America/South Asia).


She is the Co-President (2023-2027) (with Prof. Alberta Andreotti) of RC21, the Research Committee on the Sociology of Urban and Regional Development of the International Sociological Association (ISA), which supports the development of a more global dialogue across continents, disciplines and methodologies in the field of Urban Studies. She previously served as RC21’s Secretary, Board Member/Vice-President for Europe, and joint coordinator of two Doctoral Schools in Comparative Urban Studies in partnership with the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (IJURR) and the IJURR Foundation. In that context, she has become interested in the lively theoretical and empirical debates in Urban Studies on ‘global comparative urbanism’; the relationship between different linguistic and disciplinary traditions in urban research; the scope and forms of comparative research in the context of the post- and de-colonial turns; and the relationships between the so-called ‘Global North’, ‘South’ and ‘East’ - imperfect and contested terms - in scientific knowledge production.


Authored books:





Edited books:



Articles in peer-reviewed journals:







  • Colomb, C. (2010) Repräsentationen des neuen Berlin in den 1990er Jahren: die Konstruktion von symbolischen Orten durch Stadtmarketing. In: Altrock, U., Huning, S., Kuder, T., Nuissl, H. and Peters, D. (eds) Reihe Planungsrundschau, 19, thematic issue on Symbolische Orte. Planerische (De-)Konstruktionen, 57-82.


















Articles in non-peer reviewed journals:


  • Tomaney, J. and Colomb, C. (2013) Planning for independence? The evolution of spatial planning in Scotland and growing policy differences with England. Town & Country Planning, 82(9), 371-73.


  • Tomaney, J. and Colomb, C. (2014) Planning in a disunited kingdom. Town & Country Planning, 83(2), 80-3.





Chapters in edited books:



  • Colomb, C. (2006) Konstrukt Vergangenheit. ‚Revanchistische Stadtplanung‘ und ‚burdened landscapes‘ im neuen Berlin. Der Beitrag der Zwischennutzungsinitiative in der Debatte um die Zukunft der Spreeinsel. In: Deuflhard, A. and Oswalt, P. (eds) Volkspalast. Zwischen Aktivismus und Kunst, Berlin: Theater der Zeit, 142-52.





  • Clerval, A., Colomb, C. and Van Criekingen, M. (2011) La gentrification des métropoles européennes. In: Pumain D. and Mattei, M.-F. (eds) Données urbaines, Vol. 6. Paris: Economica, 151-65.


  • Colomb. C. (2014) Le nouveau Berlin. In: Sanson, D. (ed.) Berlin: Histoire, Promenades, Anthologie et Dictionnaire. Paris: Robert Laffont, 135-64.



  • Durà Guimerà, A. and Colomb, C. (2016) El legado de Francesc Morata en el estudio de la cooperación territorial en la Península Ibérica y la UE: la Red Europea de Cooperación Territorial (RECOT). In: Cancela, C., Durà Guimerà, A. and Noferini, A. (eds) Europa, Políticas Públicas y Gobernanza. Las Ideas y las Redes de un Académico Europeísta: en Recuerdo de Francesc Morata, Santiago de Compostela: Andavira Editora.


  • Oliveras González, X., Colomb, C., and Durà Guimerà, A. (2016) La cooperación transfronteriza en el contexto pirenaico: retos de la multiplicidad. In: Trillo Santamaría, J. M. and Pires, I. (eds) Fronteras en la Investigación Peninsular: Temáticas y Enfoques Contemporáneos. Santiago de Compostela: Publicacións da Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, 29-48.



  • Colomb, C., Morata Tierra, F., Durà Guimerà, A. and Oliveras González, X. (2017) Multi-level geographies of trans-boundary cooperation in Catalonia: governance, planning and ‘cross-border spaces of regionalist engagement’. In: Deas, I. and Hincks, S. (eds) Territorial Policy and Governance. Alternative Paths. London: Routledge, 92-123.


  • Colomb, C. (2017) The trajectory of Berlin’s ‘interim spaces’: tensions and conflicts in the mobilisation of ‘temporary uses’ of urban space in local economic development. In: Henneberry, J. (ed.) Transience and Permanence in Urban Development, Chichester: Wiley Blackwell, 131-49.




  • Aguilera, T., Artioli F., and Colomb, C. (2019) Les villes contre Airbnb? Locations meublées de courte durée, plateformes numériques et gouvernance urbaine: enjeux de régulation dans les villes européennes. In: Courmont, A. and Le Galès, P. (eds) Gouverner la Ville Numérique. Paris: PUF, La Vie des Idées, 27-45.




  • Colomb, C. and Tomaney, J. (2022) Spatial planning, nationalism and territorial politics in Europe. In: Harrison, J., Galland, D. and Tewdwr-Jones, M. (eds) Planning Regional Futures. London: Routledge, 193-219.




  • Moore, S. and Colomb, C. (2024, forthcoming) The pedagogical imperative for the comparative study of international planning systems and cultures: historical challenges and contemporary opportunities. In: Frank, A., Sykes, O. and Babalik Sutcliffe, E. (eds) Routledge Companion on Comparative International Planning. London: Routledge.


Working papers:




Research reports:



  • Raco, M., Kesten, J. and Colomb, C. (2014) Urban Policies on Diversity in London, United Kingdom. Report for the EU-funded project DIVERCITIES: Governing Urban Diversity: Creating Social Cohesion, Social Mobility and Economic Performance in Today’s Hyper-diversified Cities.


  • Kesten, J., Raco, M. and Colomb, C. (2014) Governance arrangements and initiatives in London, UK. Report for the EU-funded project DIVERCITIES: Governing Urban Diversity: Creating Social Cohesion, Social Mobility and Economic Performance in Today’s Hyper-diversified Cities.


  • Raco, M. and Colomb, C. Kesten, J., (2014) Policy Brief 2: Governing Diversity. EU-funded project DIVERCITIES: Governing Urban Diversity: Creating Social Cohesion, Social Mobility and Economic Performance in Today’s Hyper-diversified Cities.


  • Kesten, J., Raco, M., Colomb, C., Moreira de Souza, T., and Freire Trigo, S. (2015) Fieldwork Inhabitants, London, UK. Report for the EU-funded project DIVERCITIES: Governing Urban Diversity: Creating Social Cohesion, Social Mobility and Economic Performance in Today’s Hyper-diversified Cities.


  • Kesten, J., Raco, M., Moreira de Souza, T., and Colomb, C., (2016) Fieldwork Entrepreneurs, London, UK. Report for the EU-funded project DIVERCITIES: Governing Urban Diversity: Creating Social Cohesion, Social Mobility and Economic Performance in Today’s Hyper-diversified Cities.



Online commentaries:


Current PhD students

Claire Colomb joined the University of Cambridge in September 2023 and is keen to hear from prospective PhD applicants who are interested in pursuing doctoral research in UK and international urban and regional planning; urban and regional politics, policy and governance; urban sociology; or comparative urban studies. She has extensive supervisory and mentoring experience of PhD and post-doctoral researchers.

Recent PhD students

David Farndon (2016, University College London)

Tatiana Moreira (2016, University College London)

Justinien Tribillon (2023, University College London)


Urban and regional planning, public policy, urban governance, politics, sociology, comparative urban studies