Michael was born in Glasgow in 1947 and read Modern History at Merton College Oxford. He pursued his doctorate in the Department of Geography at Reading University under the supervision of Professor Peter Hall and went on to teach planning history and theory first at Oxford Polytechnic (from 1973 to 1979), then at the London School of Economics, where he became director of the interdepartmental Masters in Urban and Regional Planning, and then from 1994 as Professor of Town Planning at the University of Manchester, where he remains emeritus. He joined UCL in 2012 becoming emeritus in 2017.
The apparent diversity of his work – land policy in Japan, economic regionalism in Spain, street architecture in Manchester, railway station design, the history of wind and ventilation, the idea of the garden city, London and its government, collective memory of urban space - masks a consistent underlying interest in the history of planning thought and its mutations in time and space. As editor of ‘Planning Perspectives’, the leading international journal of planning history, he relishes the variety of the field and its relevance to present challenges of city-building.