During 2009‐13 a team of researchers from the Universities of Leeds, Leicester and Northampton are undertaking a major research project, funded by the UK Government’s Economic and Social Research Council [ESRC]. The research investigates the experiences, issues and needs of young people [aged 9‐16] living in new and rapidly‐expanding communities in the ‘Milton Keynes ‐ South Midlands’ [MKSM] Growth Area.


The UK Government’s 2003 Sustainable Communities Plan constituted four ‘Growth Areas’ of extensive urban development in the South‐East of England. ‘Milton Keynes – South Midlands’ [MKSM] is one of these Growth Areas encompassing Milton Keynes, North and West Northamptonshire, Bedford, Luton, Mid and South Bedfordshire, and Aylesbury Vale. To date there has been little research regarding the social consequences for children, young people and their families of such rapid urban expansion.


• to understand young people’s experiences and issues in new and rapidly‐expanding urban communities in the UK;

• to explore young people’s sense of belonging to their community and implications for their ‘citizenship’;

• to inform the planning and design of new urban communities, and to foster young people’s participation.

To fulfil these aims, the project team will undertake the following research in four case study communities:

• ethnographic fieldwork including interviews, community mapping exercises and guided walks, GPS tracking and mobile-phone rolling survey with children and young people;

• consultations with practitioners working on community‐based provision for young people;

• interviews with key partners in urban planning, governance, decision‐making and community service‐provision.


• a major new body of quantitative and qualitative data regarding young people’s issues and experiences of living in new and rapidly‐expanding communities;

• new visualisations of young people’s mobilities within contexts of contemporary urban change;

• evidence‐based good practice guidance regarding young people’s participation and citizenship in contexts of urban planning, design, decision‐making, community cohesion and sustainability;


The project team is committed to the production of research outputs which are user‐friendly for all participants. For example:

  • Case study materials, guidelines and resources will be free to download from the project website;
  • Design ‘How to’ guides detailing user-friendly local demographic profile guides,  manual for participatory projects with children and young people about living in a new community, data profiling and diverse research and consultation;
  • Project newsletters and briefing papers will enable rapid dissemination of findings and resources;
  • In‐depth Briefing papers will appear in specialist journals for urban planners, decision‐makers and practitioners; workshops and conferences will be organised to enable the transfer and discussion of research findings;
  •  An Advisory group comprising of academics, policy makers and practitioners in the field of urban development (e.g. representatives of Development Corporations and Local Authorities) and young people (e.g. service providers and youth workers) in MSKM will advise the research and help to ensure the project’s user‐friendliness and wider impact.


You may choose to participate in, or connect to, the New Urbanisms, New Citizens project in a number of ways:

•  suggest ways in which the project team might consult with young people in your local area;

• participate in workshops or conferences organised by the project team;

• download resources, guidelines, case study materials and briefing papers for free, from the project website.