From an early age I wanted to be a geologist or archaeologist. That led me to Cardiff University's archaeology course, which focused on British prehistory and Roman Britain.
- What attracted you to planning?
The thrill of discovering ancient artefacts, an outdoor lifestyle and the variety and challenge of no two archaeological sites being the same.
- What did you learn in your first job?
At Northampton Development Corporation in the 1970s, a cold winter on the windswept Briar Hill taught me that an office job wasn't a bad idea. My first proper job with North Yorkshire County Council taught me what a powerful tool the planning process can be in achieving protection for heritage and other environmental assets.
- What skills have you had to learn over your career?
The workings of the planning system and people management.
- What or who have been the biggest influences on your career?
An English Heritage inspector and four local plan officers in Berkshire in the 1980s who pioneered the policies that were to emerge as PPG16 and put archaeology in the planning process.
- What is your career highlight?
Excavating a Roman bronze weighing scale from charcoal formed in the destruction of Colchester in 61AD. In consultancy, the redevelopment of Alconbury and Upper Heyford airfields balanced heritage asset protection without fossilising the countryside.
- What have you learned outside work that has influenced you?
After trips to Africa it's clear just how prosperous and fortunate we are in the UK. Archaeology and the planning system look like expensive luxuries.
- What further skills do you aim to obtain or develop?
- How important is it to keep abreast of developments in allied professions?
Essential. Although heritage is a niche, the constantly changing planning policy framework and shifts in development trends require it.