Ben Spencer

Research Fellow


Ben is an urban designer and researcher currently working as a Research Fellow on the Brazil-UK Healthy Urban Mobility (HUM) project funded by the ESRC. This is a collaboration between Oxford Brookes and three Universities in Brazil - University of Santa Catarina, University of Rio Grande do Sul and University of Brasilia. The research is focussed on understanding the impact of personal (im)mobility on both individual and community health and wellbeing of different neighbourhoods in Brazil and in the UK.

Previously Ben was a researcher on cycle BOOM, the EPSRC funded project investigating the potential for enabling more cycling by people in later life. During the project Ben was involved in developing and carrying out a range of innovative mixed methods including cycling life-histories, mobile interviews and cycling and wellbeing trials. Key outputs from the project included a summary report with recommendations for practice and policy, briefing notes for specialist audiences and a suite of documentary films capturing the participant’s experience of the wellbeing trials see


  • 2013-2016 Researcher, cycle BOOM, Oxford Brookes University
  • 2012-2013 Project co-ordinator, Sustrans' Access to Stations sustainable transport programme. Establishing a Local Sustainable Transport Funded smarter choices project.
  • 2009-2013 PhD in Urban Design investigating how people in later life can benefit from playful neighbourhood public open space.
  • 2008-2009 Senior Urban Designer RPS working on masterplannng and design guidance for local authority and private clients.
  • 2006-2008 MA Urban Design, University of the West of England, Bristol.
  • 2002-2006 Head of Education, Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment: establishing an award winning national education programme for CABE.

Memberships (and affiliations)

Ben is a member of the British Society of Gerontology and the Academy of Urbanism.

Research profile

Ben's research interests centre on the design and use of public open space including healthy urban mobility, older people and play.

Research interests

Urban Design, Older People, Healthy Urban Mobility, Play, Cycling, Community Development.


  • Jones, T., Chatterjee, K., Spinney, J., Street, E., Van Reekum, C., Spencer, B., Jones, H., Leyland, L.A., Mann, C., Williams, S. & Beale, N. (2016). cycle BOOM. Design for Lifelong Health and Wellbeing. Summary of Key Findings and Recommendations. Oxford Brookes University, UK.
  • Jones, T., & Spencer, B. (2016). ‘Intergenerational Cycling Zones’. In Kaplan, M. et al. ‘Intergenerational Contact Zones – A Compendium of Applications’ University of Oxford: The Oxford Institute for Population Ageing. Available at:
  • Mahjoubi, L. and Spencer, B. (2015) Healthy play for all ages in public open spaces in The Routledge Handbook of Planning for Health and Well-Being Edited by Barton, H., Thompson, S., Burgess, S and Grant, M.
  • Spencer, B.; Williams, K.; Mahdjoubi, L.; Sara, R., (2013) Third Places for the Third Age: The contribution of playable space to the Well-being of older people, in Landscape, Well-being and the environment, Edited by Coles, R. and Milman, Z., Routledge, Abingdon.
  • Spencer, B. (2013) Playful public places for later life: How can neighbourhood public open space provide opportunities for improving older people’s quality of life by enabling play? PhD, University of the West of England.