Luke Bennett

Job title: 
Course Leader for BSc (Hons) Real Estate & Senior Lecturer, LLB (Hons), MRes

Phone 0114 225 6075

Luke spent 17 years in commercial legal practice as an environmental law specialist before joining SHU’s Department of the Built Environment in 2007. Luke teaches built environment law across the department’s courses, and has quickly developed a related research output, focusing upon the point at which ideas, materialities and practices intersect in the use and management of the built environment. Luke attained his Master of Research (MRes) in Sociology, Planning & Policy in 2010 with Distinction and is presently working towards a PhD by publication.

Since 2008 Luke has published nine peer reviewed articles, and two commissioned research projects. His work has been published in a number academic journals, including Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, and the International Journal of Law in the Built Environment, He has a popular blogsite with over 300 registered followers: He is also a regular contributor to the anthropology blogsite

Luke is joint convenor (with Professor Antonia Layard of the University of Birmingham) of a pair of themed sessions on Law & Geography at the 2013 Royal Geographical Society conference, and they will be jointly editing a themed issue of the International Journal of Law in the Built Environment on this cross-disciplinary field in 2014.

Research interests

Luke’s work investigates both those who own - and also those who enthusiastically seek to access - mundane, abandoned and/or derelict sites. Luke’s studies to date have variously examined metal theft, landowner’s perceptions of recreational trespassers, the methods and motivations of bunker hunters, the contested lives of abandoned quarries and art-led approaches to urban regeneration. In each case Luke’s focus is upon the meaning-making strategies of the actors, and how they interact with cultural tropes, local practices and site-specific materialities.

Particular areas of specialism include:

  • cultures of recreational trespass (urban exploration; psychogeography; bunkerology; climbing)
  • management of derelict and industrial land
  • law and geography
  • contaminated land
  • occupiers’ liability

Current research projects

Please contact me for further details about these research projects.

2012-2015 Evaluation of, and participant in, University of Sheffield’s ‘Furnace Park’ arts-led regeneration project. Role: co-investigator. 

2011-2015 An investigation of owner and climber attitudes to recreational access to abandoned quarries – British Mountaineering Council (BMC supported, but unfunded).  Role: Project Director.

2012 ‘Scree’ an investigation of an industrial hillside, in words and images, with Dr Katja Hock (photographer), commissioned by Occursus (with funding from the University of Sheffield’s Arts Enterprise Fund). Role: co-investigator.

Selected reports (2001 onwards)

Please contact me for further details about these research projects and for summaries of the findings.

Bennett, L. and Hock, K. (2013) Scree - an investigation of an industrial hillside in words and images. Sheffield: Tract Publishing.

Bennett, L. and Crowe, L. (2008) Landowners’ liability? is perception of the risk of liability for visitors accidents a barrier to countryside access?, Project Report. Sheffield:  Forestry Commission / Countryside Recreation Network.

Academic publications (2001 onwards)

Bennett, L. (2013) Who goes there? Accounting for gender in the urge to explore abandoned military bunkers. Gender, Place and Culture, 20, pp. 630-646.

Bennett, L. (2013) Concrete Multivalencepractising representation in bunkerology. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 31, pp. 502-521.

Bennett, L. (2012) Interview: Mark Harrison (Heritage Crime Adviser, English Heritage). MetalTheft.Net.Interview Series, 2 (3) – December 2012.

Bennett, L. (2012) Book review of ‘Public Safety and Risk Assessment – Improving Decision Making’ by David J. Ball and Laurence Ball-King (2011) Earthscan, European Journal of Risk Regulation, 1, pp. 138-140.

Bennett, L. (2012) Why do we only notice metal when it hurts? – Some sideways thoughts on metal theft. MetalTheft.Net, January 2012.

Bennett, L. (2011) Bunkerology – a case study in the theory and practice of urban exploration. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 29, pp. 421-434.

Bennett, L. (2011) The Bunker: metaphor, materiality & management. Culture and Organization, 17, pp. 155-173.

Bennett, L. (2011) Judges, child trespassers and occupiers’ liability. International Journal of Law in the Built Environment, 3, pp. 126-145.

Bennett, L. (2010) Trees and public liability – who really decides what is reasonably safe?  Arboricultural Journal – The International Journal of Urban Forestry, 33, pp. 141-164.

Bennett, L. and Gibbeson, C. (2010) Perceptions of occupiers’ liability risk by estate managers: a case study of memorial safety in English cemeteries. International Journal of Law in the Built Environment, 2, pp. 76-93.

Bennett, L. (2009) Why, what, and how? case study on law, risk, and decision making as necessary themes in built environment teaching. Journal of Legal Affairs & Dispute Resolution in Engineering and Construction, 1, pp. 105-113.

Bennett, L. (2008) Assets under attack: metal theft, the built environment and the dark side of the global recycling market. Environmental Law and Management, 20, pp. 176-183.

Bennett, L. (ed.) (2003) Facing the Future; Listening to the Past – the proceedings of the 2002 UK Environmental Law Association conference. Basingstoke: UKELA.

Bennett, L. (2003) Site Closures - Managing the Liability Risks, Industrial Safety Management, April, pp. 25-27.

Recent conference and seminar papers

Please contact me for a copy of the following:

Bennett, L. and Crawley Jackson, A. (2013) Curating Strange Encounters in Multidisciplinary Space – a case study on opening a plot to multiple reading. Royal Geographical Society conference, Imperial College, London, 29 August.

Bennett L. (2013) Looking for Law in Empty Spaces: Legal geography from the ground up. Royal Geographical Society Conference, Imperial College, London, 29 August.

Bennett, L. (2013) Anoraks, Bunkers and the Erotics of Knowledge.  Conserving the 20th Century workshop on celebrating and valuing cultures of architectural enthusiasm – University College, London, 28 June.

Bennett, L. (2013) The Ghosts of Furnace Park. Post Traumatic Landscapes Symposium, University of Sheffield, 22 May.

Bennett, L (2013) Why Records Matter – buildings, data and the law. Built Environment Research Conference,  Sheffield Hallam University Conference, 20 May.

Bennett, L. (2013) On Noticing Four Things - Law, Objects and Everyday Aesthetics. Socio-Legal Studies Association Conference, York University, 27 March.

Bennett, L. (2013) Awkward Objects + Slippery Surfaces - Mundane Law, Everyday Aesthetics & Thinglyness. Art + Law Symposium, University of Sheffield, 15 March.

Bennett, L. (2012) How To Work With Landowners And Reduce Fear Of Litigation. British Mountaineering Council Conference, Castleton, Derbyshire. 1 November.

Bennett, L. (2012) Confessions of a Wandering Mind. Leeds Psychogeography Group Workshop, University of Leeds, 23 October.

Bennett, L. (2012) Bunkers, Anoraks and the Erotics of Knowledge. Royal Geographical Society conference, University of Edinburgh, 4 July.

Bennett, L. (2012) Wrought: Confessions of a Wandering Mind. Art Sheffield & University of Sheffield’s Work & Art Symposium, 29 June.

Bennett, L. (2012), Making Somewhere Smaller – ownership, use and the challenge of surplus space Anthropology Symposium on ‘The Creativity of Property’, University College, London, 26 June.

Bennett, L. (2012) The academic perspective. Vacant Property Specialists’ expert roundtable on metal theft and premises defence, Manchester, 21 June.

Bennett, L. (2012) Exploring Bunkers, Genre and Ambivalence. Affective Landscapes conference, University of Derby, 25 May.

Bennett, L. (2012) Occupiers’ Liability and Premises Management. Public Sector FM Network – Sheffield Hallam University, 28 February.

Bennett, L. (2012) Researching Access and Liability Perception. Countryside Recreation Network Research Workshop – Edinburgh, 27 January.

Bennett, L. (2011) Liability for tree management. Arboricultural Association (Midlands) – Leicester, 3 November.

Bennett, L. (2011). A pub, a field and some signs – a case study on the pragmatics of proprietorship and legal cognition. COBRA 2011: The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors' International Research Conference, Manchester, 12 September.

Bennett, L. (2011). Bunkerology – a case study in the meaning making practices of on-line urban exploration forums. Ethicomp 2011 – the social impact of social computing, Sheffield Hallam University, 15 September.

Bennett, L. (2011) Introduction (and chairman), Sheffield Hallam University’s Empty Premises Conference, 28 June.

Bennett, L. (2010). Judges, child trespassers and occupiers’ liability in the built environment. COBRA 2010: The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors' International Research Conference, Paris, France, 2 September.

Bennett, L. (2010) Liability for Tree Accidents. The Future of Street Trees Conference, Sheffield Hallam University. 11 February.

Bennett, L. (2009) Landowner Liability Research. Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents' National Water Safety Congress, Cardiff, 9 November.

Bennett, L. (2009) Landowner Liability Research. Countryside Recreation Network’s Taking a Chance Outdoors Conference, Birmingham, 1 July.

Bennett, L. (2009) Landowner Liability Research. Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors' Rural Land Management Research Conference: ROOTS 2009, University of Cambridge, 23 March.

Bennett, L. (2008) Assets Under Attack – metal theft in the city. Standing Conference on Organizational Symbolism Annual Conference, Manchester, 4 July.

Bennett, L. (2008) Assets Under Attack – metal theft and the recycling markets. Chartered Institute of Wastes Management Annual Conference, Torbay, 11 June.

PhD supervision

Luke has completed SHU’s PhD supervisor assessor training programme and hopes to commence PhD supervision in 2013/14. He also plans to submit an application for PhD by publication for his own work in Spring 2014.

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