The Things I Know

Graeme bell, Principal, Graeme Bell Consultants Ltd.

- Where did you study planning?

The Leeds School of Town Planning, then part of the city's school of art.

- What skills did you have when you graduated?

How to produce a town map in six weeks flat and how to make good Yorkshire puddings.

- What attracted you to planning?

It didn't sound like an office job and I was interested in land and buildings.

- What did you learn in your first job?

That the most important people were the head of the typing pool, the chief draughtsman and the lady who guarded the files. The county planning officer was a distant fourth.

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

Development economics. I passed the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors exams when I was 45.

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

Brian Briscoe and Geoff Steeley, an awesome combination of intellect and action, were my bosses at Hertfordshire. They taught me that virtually anything was possible if you had the will to succeed, and that you could have fun doing it too.

- What is your career highlight?

As director of the Town and Country Planning Association, I led the charity through its centenary year and was invited to open the debate at the South East regional planning guidance public examination. I think that this is the top job in planning.

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

I have learnt that many people consider planners and planning an unnecessary evil. I have tried to convince them through my work that our profession is essential to their well-being now and in the future.

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

Speed-reading.

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

Vital. The profession cannot operate in isolation. Research and enforcement are the most undervalued aspects of planning.


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