How Do They Do It? Nora Galley of Peter Brett Associates

Written by: Jim Dunton
Published on: 25 Apr 2014

Nora GalleyNora Galley is a partner at Peter Brett Associates. Along with fellow planning partner Chris Quinsee, she leads the consultancy's planning, development and economics team.

Q: Tell us a little about what your current role involves and recent projects you've been involved with.

My particular specialism is large, strategic planning jobs that require property and economics - as well as planning - expertise because of the problems and opportunities they present.

My current projects include the regeneration strategy for Sharpness, the Canal & River Trust’s 200 acre estate in Gloucestershire which, due to our work, is now promoted by Stroud District Council’s submission draft Local Plan. The scheme includes 300 dwellings plus 10.5 hectares of leisure and tourism space and 7.5 hectares of dock-related industry. I am also leading the planning for the redevelopment of the Howe Barracks site in Canterbury and a major employment development south of Kettering.

One of my biggest projects was St Stephens in Hull for Hull City Council and the then regeneration agencies. It’s a large, retail-led, scheme that also delivered a new theatre, music school and rail-bus interchange on a 16 hectare site that we assembled by compulsory purchase order. That job was the start of a long period of work to transform the city centre’s contribution to Hull’s economy. I am equally proud of the work I led for Bridlington’s regeneration which includes the now adopted Bridlington Town Centre Area Action Plan.

Q: Where did you gain your town-planning qualifications?

My first degree was a BA from the University of California in drama and English – which has served me well in a career in which communication skills are particularly important. I then came to England to do a DPhil in social psychology, but changed tack when we decided to live in London. I had always been an Anglophile - and the real thing proved better even than my imaginings from the other side of the Atlantic!

I got my planning qualification - an MPhil – from University College London’s Bartlett School. One of the lecturers there was a partner at Roger Tym & Partners and he recruited me to the practice. I became a partner of Roger Tym & Partners myself in 1999 and we merged with Peter Brett Associates (PBA)  in 2011.
Q: What are your objectives in your current role and how are you measured against them?

We are wholly committed to providing the best planning, development and economics (PDE) services in the industry and I am tasked with developing and growing our PDE team. PBA’s origins are in engineering and we have an impressive track record in land development and infrastructure work. Our combination of planning, property expertise and economics is close to unique in the planning market. With our engineering and environmental colleagues, we are able to offer our clients exceptional opportunity-grabbing and problem-solving expertise.

My objectives are to increase PDE’s turnover and profitability, develop the market’s knowledge of our services, increase the range and prestige of our commissions, and develop and grow our teams. The career opportunities at PBA are outstanding.

Q: Who sets those objectives and manages your performance?

As a partner, I set and agree my objectives with my fellow partners and my performance is assessed by our management board, who delegate the detailed tasks to what we call a remuneration committee.
Q: What key lessons have you learned during your career that help you to fulfil those objectives?

Recruit the very best people - people you are enthused by and who will challenge you, but who also share your values and commitment to meeting clients’ needs;

Being nice to people makes you more effective; and

Stick up for what you believe, because passion will take you a long way.