The Things I Know - Chris Pagdin, Head of planning, Luton Borough Council

- Where did you study planning?

Heriot-Watt University.

- What skills did you have when you graduated?

The ability to see how planning policies affect different parts of society in different ways.

- What attracted you to planning?

The idea of sorting out the geography of towns so they work for everybody.

- What did you learn in your first job?

The importance of scale. I was shocked when a house I had approved was bigger than I had imagined.

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

The most important is understanding people because it gives an insight into the best way to manage difficult situations. I also did an MSc at Oxford Brookes University on planning in developing countries, which I haven't had a chance to use yet.

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

Cliff Hague on the implications of planning for people, Kevin Murray and Gary Emmerson on perseverance and focus and Mike Hayes on dealing with developers on major projects. Steve Quartermain's claim that he taught me all I knew in my first job isn't saying much, given the blunder cited above.

- What is your career highlight?

Drafting PPG13 on planning and transport at the former ODPM and then trying to deliver this type of integration on the ground. This includes the Aylesbury bus hub, now nearing completion, and the Watford Health Campus, which has key worker housing attached to one of the football stands.

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

Learning about people and what motivates them.

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

I want to continue to improve my partnership working skills.

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

We increasingly need to work across professions to achieve solutions to emerging problems.

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