CLES appoints new Associate Director

The UK’s leading progressive think and do tank, the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), has appointed a new Associate Director.

Stuart MacDonald joins CLES from the Penang Institute in Malaysia where he was Head of Urban Studies. After five years in South East Asia, MacDonald has returned to the UK to pursue his specialist field of people focussed planning within a different – and ever-changing – context.

In his new role, MacDonald will be using his previous experience in planning and urban development to bring a new area of expertise to CLES’ work championing people and place. Specifically, he hopes to bring a CLES voice to debates in physical planning to deliver fairer, more prosperous places.

Neil McInroy, Chief Executive of CLES, said:

‘We are fortunate and pleased to have Stuart on board. To attract someone of Stuart’s calibre and experience is a recognition of how CLES is growing in stature and influence. As our economies increasingly polarise, its vital we start to plug our progressive economic and socially just thinking into the frame of development and planning. Stuart’s experience will also help with the international work we have and our ability to draw ideas from far and wide.’

Stuart MacDonald added:

‘Planning has a key role to play in delivering widely shared economic, social and environmental goals, however continual reform has failed to deliver for all places. The ‘presumption in favour’ has clearly favoured some areas at the expense of others and national planning reforms have broken any remaining links between planning and social justice as an outcome. CLES’ focus on community wealth generation and position as a small but independent and influential public policy think tank will enable me to apply CLES’ values of equality and fairness to planning.’


Notes to editors

For images, interviews or further information, please contact Amy Clancy on +44 (0) 161 236 7036 or by email,

  • Established in 1986, CLES is the UK’s leading, independent think and do tank realising progressive economics for people and place. CLES aims to achieve social justice, good local economies and effective public services for everyone, everywhere.
  • After 5 years in Penang, Stuart has returned to the UK. During his time in Malaysia he spent his time researching and developing a policy mix with the long-term vision for making Penang among the most liveable cities in Asia. Heading a research team, he developed policy, strategy and action plans in areas of planning, affordable housing, public transport, public spaces and local environment.

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