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Sustainability East Doctoral Studentship

Sustainability East area map

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough housing and wellbeing multi-stakeholder engagement project (2017-2020).

Project overview

This project was concerned with ‘governance for sustainability’, investigating alternative governance frameworks that can help steer transitions toward sustainability. One such framework is ‘Transitions Management’ (TM) which has been trialled in various countries including the Netherlands to help govern their national Energy Transition (Rotmans & Loorbach, 2008). A gap, however, exists between TM theory and practice.

Responding to cited critiques, we proposed adaptations to improve the current TM model. We then tested these adaptations in a case study of housing development in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough (UK) – a unique testbed for such innovations due to the policy window provided by the local housing crisis and the new devolution of powers from the UK government. Conclusions would reflect on whether our proposed adaptations successfully addressed long-cited critiques of Transition Management.


The aims of the three-year research project were two-fold. First, to contribute to academic debates on the topic of ‘governance for sustainability’.

Second, due to its real-life application and aspiration to affect change, the project aimed to facilitate debate and action on sustainable housing development in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. By bringing together experts and practitioners from diverse sectors, the process aimed to incorporate a variety of housing development goals. These included economic efficiency, housing affordability, energy efficiency, access to affordable transport, social cohesion, safe communities, and good physical and mental health for all. Previously, such goals were tackled separately, leading to policies and initiatives that may support one goal but unknowingly undermine others.

In short, this project tested a new model of stakeholder engagement designed to integrate diverse development goals, encourage action by improving problem and solution ownership by key actors, and to help avoid unintended consequences of housing development by taking a cross-sector approach and reframing discussions around future wellbeing.


Project funding was provided by Sustainability East, a social enterprise working collaboratively with all sectors to facilitate debate and action on climate change and sustainability in the East of England. Project partners included the Peterborough Environment City Trust and the Cambridgeshire-Peterborough Combined Authority, having officially endorsed the project in August 2017.

Research findings

Visioning Workshop Final Report
Visioning Workshop Appendix A
Visioning Workshop Appendix B
Visioning Workshop Appendix C
Visioning Workshop Appendix D
Visioning Workshop Executive Summary