How do they do it? ATLAS's Simon Leask

Written by: Jez Abbott
Published on: 6 Jun 2014

Simon Leask

Simon Leask is head of the advisory team for large applications, ATLAS, which is an independent service available at the request of councils to support them in dealing with large scale housing projects.

Since it was established 10 years ago ATLAS has advised on more than 150 projects totalling more than 300,000 units, of which 130,000 have won outline consent.

Leask, a chartered town planner, has an MA is urban design, a diploma in management and was head of development and design at Telford & Wrekin Council and head of area at Birmingham City Council. 

Q What are your objectives in your current role and how are you measured against them? 

A My objectives are to help implement the ATLAS vision, which is to secure the timely delivery of development through effective planning processes, collaborative working and promotion of good practice. The team is measured by output targets in terms of numbers of projects or units that reach key planning milestones.

Q What key lessons have you learned during your career that help you to fulfil those objectives?

A Vision is all-important. Large-scale development is much more than town planning. Developing a vision based on collaboration with communities, local authorities, developers and agencies is extremely powerful to the design process, project management and most importantly the quality of outcome.

Learn from other people. There are an awful lot of knowledgeable and enthusiastic people in the planning and development world. Learn from them. Setting up structures and the space to allow for creative thought and challenge always leads to better outcomes.

Don't underestimate the power of good leadership. Delivering at the large scale is a substantial endeavour. Positive leaders, at all levels, who have what it takes to provide enthusiasm, drive and commitment make all the difference.