Cheshire West and Chester's planning chief dies suddenly

Fiona Hore, head of planning at Cheshire West and Chester Council and one of the stars of The Planners television series, has died suddenly aged 56.

Fiona Hore (formerly Edwards), the former head of planning at Cheshire West and Chester Council who has passed away aged 56
Fiona Hore (formerly Edwards), the former head of planning at Cheshire West and Chester Council who has passed away aged 56

Hore, formerly Fiona Edwards, died suddenly at Arrow Park Hospital in Birkenhead on Monday 23 March, according to a death notice from her family.

Hore, a member of the Royal Town Planning Institute who lived in Cheshire, started her career aged 25 as an appeals clerk at the now-defunct Kennet District Council in Wiltshire.

“I just found this world of town planning and I fell in love with it,” she told Planning in a 2014 interview.

She studied urban and regional planning at Sheffield Hallam University, graduating in 1996, and held roles as a duty planning officer at Newark and Sherwood District Council and senior planning officer at Ceredigion County Council in Wales before moving to the former Chester City Council in 2006.

Hore joined Cheshire West and Chester Council in the local government reorganisation of 2009 where she served as development planning manager before becoming senior manager for planning and strategic transport in 2015.

During her time at Cheshire West and Chester, she appeared in both the 2013 television series The Planners and its 2014 sequel Permission Impossible: Britain’s Planners.

Talking about the experience to Planning, she said: “I think that the show has benefited the planning profession because it’s opened it up to people who otherwise wouldn’t have had a clue about what we do.”

Describing her career milestones in the same interview, she said: "I’m proud of being a development planning manager, and that we’ve been able to fix a big piece of the 'Canal Corridor' in Chester.

"When I worked at Ceredigion County Council in Wales there was a project involving cottages that I worked on that I’m also rather proud of, and I was also involved with the Drum auditorium at the National Library of Wales."

Fellow planners paid tribute to Hore's commitment and the pride she took in her work. 

Dan Mitchell, a Manchester-based partner at planning consultancy Barton Willmore, worked closely with Hore on major projects including the redevelopment of Chester Zoo. “She was very proud of that project and very supportive of the zoo,” he said.

Mitchell described Hore as a “great ambassador for Cheshire and town planning as a whole”, adding: “Fiona was always very strong at providing planning common sense. We always found her willing to challenge political views for the benefit of the built environment.”

Justin Paul, managing partner of Chester consultancy J10 Planning, said: “She was a tenacious and skilled operator, much respected by her members and the planning community. 

“She effectively managed the planning service in the face of resource challenges and having only recently joined the Regional Activities Committee for the Royal Town Planning Institute in the North West many of us were looking forward to her bringing a new dynamic to the professional body. She will leave a big void and I know that she will be greatly missed.”

A spokesman for Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Arrowe Park Hospital, said Hore's death was not related to the Covid-19 virus.

Cheshire West and Chester Council has been approached for comment.

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