How do they do it? Brian Waters

Written by: Jez Abbott
Published On: 21 Sep 2015
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Brian WatersAs well as a being a principal at planning and architecture practice Boisot Waters Cohen Partnership (BWCP), Brian Waters is chairman of the National Planning Forum and the London Planning & Development Forum. He is also joint publishing editor of the Planning in London journal. As a graduate he worked for the Greater London Council, and at Shankland/Cox he was team leader for the Hampstead Garden Suburb conservation plan. The qualified architect gained a planning diploma on a four-year day-release course at Polytechnic of Central London. Waters has served on policy groups on transport and the London region. He was awarded an honorary fellowship for services to planning and architecture by Westminster University in 2012 and sat on the Royal Town Planning Institute planning awards judging panel last year.

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

The partnership was founded by three people covering architecture, planning and valuation surveying. Being part of a small team means I get involved in all aspects of client relationships and project work, from planning and masterplanning, to design and valuation. In terms of measurement against my objectives, the main measure is the quality of what we produce and customer satisfaction and whether clients come back for more – we have many long-standing customers.

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

A. Always take a holistic approach, whatever the problem. Don't just fall for the first line of policy that says 'no', but take in the bigger context to achieve a result that meets the policy intention by working around the objection.

Work closely with other disciplines. People say there's a huge gulf between planning, which is process, and architecture, which is about product, but if you link process with product you are likely to get better results.

Build enjoyable and trusting relationships with planning officers. A problem with planning – and one that's getting worse – is the lack of hands-on practical understanding of civil servants, so planners and consultants must collaborate to accommodate the political dimension.