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Who is The Active Urbanist?


My name is Matt Roebuck, and I've worked within sport for good, physical activity for public health, community development and journalism.

I have a passion for drawing attention to under-appreciated opportunities and communities, and connecting people and ideas.


One of those passions is for reversing the loss of the opportunites to people of all ages to access sport, play, physical activity and social engagement on their doorstep.


Although I call my response Active Urbanism, it is as applicable to rural communities as it is to the inner city.

What can the Active Urbanist do for you?


I'm available to provide a range of services including;

advocacy - spoken & written,

insight-led policy advice,

strategic development,

project initation,

 development and delivery of bespoke tools and training. 


If you'd like to discuss how I might be able to support you deliver on your goals then please contact me at


So what is Active Urbanism?

Active Urbanism is the adaptation of our streets, parks and public spaces to be movement-friendly. It is also adapting our sport for its return to our streets, parks and public spaces.

It promotes public health by making the most of our built and natural environment, and community activation and part of a systems approach to make movement appealing and accessible to all – especially the currently inactive.

It takes innovative practice from across the world and matches and adjusts that practice to build on local community strengths.

Once played where we lived, we created our own rules, and adapted to our own surroundings. Now 'sport' or 'play' is something we do at a specialised facility, a sports hall, a playground, a gym, or behind neatly drawn white lines.

Active Urbanism is about reconsidering how we adapt sport and play to our urban environment AND how we build our urban environments to support physical activity.

Why do we need Active Urbanism?

The UN projects that by 2050, 68% of the world will live in urban areas. In most high-income countries that figure already sits above 80%. The World Health Organisation has called non-communicable diseases like cancer, type-2 diabetes and chronic heart disease a 'slow motion' diaster than threatens public health around the world. We know physical activity can address that disaster


My passion grew from experience working on facility strategies in Birmingham & Lincolnshire, UK, where the shortfall of 'traditional' sport pitches or halls required to support, let alone grow the number of 'active' people was never going to be met; with communities in the east of London who cannot afford to access the facilities of the Olympic legacy; and having lived in Yangon, Myanmar where rapid new development left public realm to support and active lifestyle. I've also been lucky enough to spend a lot of time with my Dutch wife cycling around her home town in the Netherlands. 

More about me...
I've been awarded a Churchill Fellowship to explore Active Urbanism  and promote practical solutions. More on my fellowship here

You can find out more about me and my past projects including my book 'The Other Olympics' -- a journey in search of the true Olympic spirit at international multi-sport events with a social cause or identity on my LinkedIn page.

The Other Olympcs.jpeg
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