- Where did you study planning?
At the University of Manchester.
- What skills did you have when you graduated?
Not very many in hindsight, although I thought I had. I was only taught the basics. Planning education has improved since then.
- What attracted you to planning?
Peter Hall's lectures when I was at the London School of Economics doing geography, my friend Adrian Pope who preceded me into the profession and a sense of idealism that I have never quite lost, although it has been threatened at times.
- What did you learn in your first job?
Professionalism, honesty, long-term thinking and a sense of humour.
- What skills have you had to learn over your career?
It's the people skills that matter. We can all learn the technical stuff but we cannot all get the best from people, delegate, negotiate or deal with others. Being involved with the RTPI or the Town and Country Planning Association is a useful form of continuous mid-career training.
- What or who have been the biggest influences on your career?
John Millar, chief planner at Manchester City Council and Greater Manchester Council, was an underrated genius and a gentleman who was ready to trust people.
- What are your career highlights?
Serving as RTPI president, having the chance to run the Planning Inspectorate and producing The Grotton Papers with David Kaiserman and Steve Ankers.
- What have you learnt outside work that has influenced your career?
Having grandchildren seriously makes you think long-term. Climate change matters. The works of Sir Edward Elgar and Sir Alex Ferguson have also been influential.
- What further skills do you aim to attain or develop?
I still have a way to go on the IT side.
- How important is it to keep abreast of developments in allied professions?
It is important to keep abreast of everything.