Peter Brett Associates’ LLP director Bernard Greep originally wanted to be an architect but a planning module during the final year of his architecture degree at Liverpool University prompted a change of mind. After gaining a postgraduate degree in planning at Manchester University he secured his first job, as a planning officer at Blackpool Council, where he spent three years before joining Roger Tym & Partners, now part of PBA. In 14 years he has risen from consultant to head of the firm’s Manchester office.
Q. What are your objectives in your current role and how are you measured against them?
I advise public-sector clients and promote sites through the planning process for developers, housebuilders, landowners and other commercial interests. As would be expected for a Sunday Times Top 100 Company, we have performance management systems with financial performance, business development and people-orientated criteria. The real barometer of success, however, is when we help our clients achieve their objectives, from securing an allocation or permission to saving them money by overcoming constraints or negotiating away section-106 requirements and so on.
Q. What key lessons have you learned during your career that help you to fulfil those objectives?
A. Develop a thick skin. As a planner you are at the hub of the process – the conduit between the local planning authority, the applicant, external agencies and other stakeholders. Inevitably you are the first to receive criticism from those who feel aggrieved by the system. I learned early in my career not to take such criticism personally.
Do your preparation. The adage ‘fail to prepare, and prepare to fail’ was surely written with planners in mind. There is so much to be aware of as a planner; therefore never turn up to a committee or inquiry without doing your homework.
Be innovative. There is a lot of competition out there, so try to stay ahead by coming up with new ideas and approaches. That will help further your career and help you to achieve clients’ goals.