The things I know

Philip Moren, Planning consultant, writer and part-time inspector with An Bord Pleanala.

- Where did you study planning?

Trent Polytechnic, Nottingham.

- What skills did you have when you graduated?

I do not think that my 1970s planning degree equipped me particularly well for the real world, although today's courses seem better.

- What attracted you to planning?

Two long-haired, bearded planners in patterned shirts and colourful tank-tops stood out in a sea of dull grey suits at a school careers convention. They made planning sound varied, interesting and useful.

- What did you learn in your first job?

My first proper job working on Swindon's vigorous town expansion programme was a good introduction to urban masterplanning.

- What skills have you had to learn over your career?

Perspicacity, design appreciation, persuasive communication skills, an ability to anticipate the views and actions of others, sound judgement and making defensible decisions.

- What or who have been the biggest influences on your career?

Nicholas Ridley, poor conditions in local government and ignorant members prompted my move into the private sector. I never looked back.

- What is your career highlight?

Meeting some extraordinary people, dealing with appeals in beautiful parts of Ireland and knowing that my writing has helped others understand the complex planning system.

- What have you learnt outside work that has influenced your career?

Sport and outdoor activities have taught me the value of teamwork and how to adapt to change.

- What further skills do you aim to attain or develop?

The ability to type more quickly, shut down the computer and get up into the Welsh mountains more often.

- How important is it to keep abreast of developments in allied professions?

Vital. Together with John Collins, I have written two practice guides aimed at improving understanding between the architectural and planning professions.

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