Project code



School of Civil Engineering and Surveying

Start dates

October, February and April

Application deadline

Applications accepted all year round

Applications are invited for a self-funded, 3 year full-time or 6 year part-time PhD project.

The PhD will be based in the School of Civil Engineering and Surveying and will be supervised by Dr Ann Coats, Stephen Neale and Belinda Mitchell.

The work on this project could involve:

  • Formulating the positive attributes of reusing industrial-military heritage
  • Evaluating the social, environmental and economic potential of mixed re-use of industrial-military heritage
  • Conceptualising a creative and practical mixed-use strategy for industrial-military heritage
  • Integrating community engagement with industrial-military heritage sites and their future sustainability, working with communities to make meaning of the sites

This project will create/assess a mixed reuse regeneration strategy for former industrial-military property, which abounds in southern England, to encourage innovative proposals and avoid inappropriate development or continued deterioration. 

This is timely because the 2020 Planning for the Future White Paper, aims to shorten planning scrutiny and favours residential over mixed use. It encourages wider permitted development rights over community participation. Moreover, the 2016 Housing and Planning Act’s ‘permission in principle’ for housing-led development promotes residential development. These pose a negative impact on the historic environment and archaeology of brownfield sites, undesignated historic buildings and the setting of designated heritage assets, local character and amenity.

Much former industrial-military property is fundamentally unsuitable for residential use. Some structures are on the heritage-at-risk list, such as Portsmouth Docks 5 and 6, Forts Fareham and Widley, Haslar Gunboat Yard and Cowes Hammerhead Crane. Many Second World War structures are unlisted, lacking statutory protection. However, their very rarity and uniqueness inspires creative and visionary reuse, attracting visitors, boosting the local economy, promoting community cohesion, volunteering and employment opportunities and skills development.

Portsmouth Hinterland Project Research Toolkit, addresses the development of semi-rural areas. However, it omits challenges affecting large industrial-military sites and fails to incorporate more inclusive approaches to the vital issues of how communities make meanings, memories and associations. Negative impacts on the reuse of industrial-military heritage include undervalued cultural significance, poor physical site security, maintenance, funding and resources, and depressed land values, which deter innovative developers. 
Such research is vital because prioritising residential development in brownfield sites threatens the environmental, social and economic sustainability of distinctive historic structures which gives unique neighbourhood character.

The design and methodology of this research progresses through five stages to conceptualise the unique cultural significance of the region’s industrial-military heritage within a strategy which stimulates opportunities.

Fees and funding

Visit the research subject area page for fees and funding information for this project.

Funding availability: Self-funded PhD students only. 

PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only).

Bench fees

Some PhD projects may include additional fees – known as bench fees – for equipment and other consumables, and these will be added to your standard tuition fee. Speak to the supervisory team during your interview about any additional fees you may have to pay. Please note, bench fees are not eligible for discounts and are non-refundable.

Entry requirements

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications.  English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

Demonstration of practical experience in this field is welcomed.

How to apply

We’d encourage you to contact Dr Ann Coats ( to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, please follow the 'Apply now' link on the Civil Engineering PhD subject area page and select the link for the relevant intake. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV. Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process. 

When applying please quote project code: SCES5311021