Emeritus Professor


Contact Details



William J V Neill is Emeritus Professor of Spatial Planning at the University of Aberdeen. He was appointed to a Sixth Century Chair in 2006 having  previously held academic appointments at the University of Manchester and Queen’s University Belfast. He completed a Master’s degree in Urban Planning from the University of Michigan and completed his Ph.D. at the University of Nottingham. He worked as an urban planner for the State of Michigan in the 1970’s and 1980’s with particular reference to the city of Detroit. His research interests revolve around the expression of identity in the city and how this is spatially contested and affirmed.  He is senior editor of the recent book Relaunching Titanic : Memory and Marketing in the New Belfast (Routledge 2013).  His other  books include Migration and Cultural Inclusion  in the European City, Palgrave (ed. with H-U Schwedler,2006); Urban Planning and Cultural Identity, Routledge, 2004; Urban Planning and Cultural Inclusion: Lessons from Belfast and Berlin, Palgrave, (ed with H-U Schwedler)  2001 and Reimaging the Pariah City: Lessons from Belfast and Detroit , Ashgate, 1995 (with B. Murtagh and D Fitzsimons). He is a former Council member of the Royal Town Planning Institute and was  a recent  member of  an EU URBACT  expert group on the future of European shrinking  cities. His book (ed with Hans Schlappa) on European Shrinking Cities (2016) was published as part of the Routledge RTPI Library Series. He was recently appointed as a Visiting Research Professor at the Institute of Irish Studies, Queen's University Belfast.



Research Interests

Recent Publications/invited presentations : 

Beyond the balm of communicative planning: can Actor -Network theory insights and a more agonistic practice help unlock creative 'post-conflict' potential: towards a renewed research horizon in Northern Ireland.
Planning Practice and Research, Vol 32 Issue 3 2017 pp319-332

On line first version

Giving Sirocco a fair wind? : Tales from the riverbank in Belfast . Town and Country Planning. 2017 Vol 86 No 5 pp 202-207 WN2.pdf

Representing the Maze/Long Kesh Prison in Northern Ireland: Conflict Resolution Centre and Tourist Draw or Trojan Horse in a Culture War ?   Chapter 10 in  Palgrave Handbook of Prison Tourism edited by J. Z. Wilson, S Hodgkinson, J Piché and K Walby , 2017 pp 239-257

Future directions for the European Shrinking City (editor with Hans Schlappa), Routledge, RTPI Library Series, ( four chapter contributions)  2016

Dealing with the legacy of conflict. Invited keynote paper to International Symposium on
Planning and Post-Conflict Cities 27th Nov 2015. Sponsored by Faculty of Architecture TU Delft, UN-Habitat and Creative industries fund NL

Carry on Shrinking? : The Bankruptcy of Urban Policy in Detroit. Planning Practice and Research,

Volume 30, Issue 1, 2015 PPR_Detroit_Neill_2015_ Final.pdf

Don't mention the culture war : Beyond creative ambiguity and professional 'quietism' in Northern Ireland/North of Ireland spatial planning? Planning Theory and Practice, Vol. 15 No 2 268-275 , 2014


 Avoiding Detroit? : Lessons for Urban Policy in Europe . University of Venice. October 2013

 From Crisis to Choice: Re-imagining the Future in Shrinking Cities (with Dr Hans Schlappa) European Commission, Brussels 2013

 Relaunching Titanic: Memory and Marketing in the New Belfast. Routledge. London and New York ( Editor, with M Murray and B Grist) 2013

 Urban Design in the Real Estate Development Process, Journal of Urban Design. 17, 1, p. 153-155. 2012

Strategic Spatial Planning in Berlin Brandenburg: A Requiem for Balanced Development? Planning Practice and Research. 26, 1, p. 107-121. 14 (with M Murray) 2011   

The debasing of myth: the privitization of Titanic memory in designing the 'post conflict' city. Journal of Urban Design. 16, 1, p. 67-86. 2011


The Spaces of the Nation: Strategic Spatial Planning in Scotland and the Island of Ireland.  Journal of Irish and Scottish Studies. 4, 2, p. v-x. 2010. Special issue. Guest Editor. 


Belfast : Re-branding the 'Renaissance City': from 'the Troubles' to Titanic Quarter : Chapter 17 in  Urban Design and the British Urban Renaissance. Punter, J. (ed.).  Routledge p. 305-322.  2009


Die Grenzen der Toleranz und die Verhandlung der Differenz (The  boundaries of tolerance and the handling of difference) (with B Murtagh) 2009. Entwicklungsfaktor Kultur. Quenzel, G. (ed.). Bielefeld : transcript Verlag, Bielefeld p. 167-19


Within the City Limits: tolerance and the negotiation of difference. Town Planning Review. 79, 6, p. i-vii. 2008


Spatial planning in contested territory: the search for a place vision in "post troubles" Northern Ireland. Chapter 7 in  Northern Ireland After The Troubles? . Coulter, C. (ed.). Manchester : University of Manchester press p. 88-109. (with G Ellis) 2008  


Changing Representational Landscapes Ch. 13 in : Palast der Republik Berlin.  Berliner Wissenschafts Verlag p. 151-161. 2008


Founder member of the Scottish Irish Forum for Spatial Planning in collaboration with Planning Schools at Queen's University Belfast and University College Dublin. 

Further Info

External Responsibilities

Editorial Board Member :  Planning  Practice and Research

Visiting Research Professor, Institute of Irish Studies, Queen's University Belfast




update | about Staff Pages