How do they do it? David Evans

Written by: Colin Marrs
Published on: 19 Aug 2014

David Evans, Weymouth

David Evans is joint environment director at West Dorset and Weymouth & Portland Councils and president of the Planning Officers Society.

He is a qualified planner and urban designer and completed a PhD at Oxford Brookes University in 1996 and diploma in management in 1998.

He has worked for councils in Denbighshire, Clwyd County,Test Valley, Winchester, Purbeck and West Dorset prior to being appointed to the shared services partnership in 2011.

During his career he has worked in local planning, development management, strategic planning, minerals planning and conservation.

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

A. My job is to lead and manage the planning, property, engineering and parking services for the partnership to achieve quality development which meets the communities needs for growth in jobs and homes while respecting the special environmental quality of the area. I have an annual performance appraisal with the chief executive and leaders of the two councils. This looks at the performance of my services against the objectives and targets in the corporate plan.

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

A. Ensure that planning is at the heart of the corporate agenda. Planning is a powerful tool for councils to shape places to meet community needs and achieve quality outcomes. My role on the management team is to ensure that planning helps the organisation to achieve positive results and is not perceived as just a regulatory activity focused on achieving eight week targets. 

Earn the trust and respect of politicians. Planning operates in a political context and close working with leading politicians is essential to achieving the priorities of the councils. Sometimes this means giving advice that may be unpopular but where there is trust I have found that members respect the role that I have to provide sound and impartial planning advice.

Build a strong team. As Meredith Belbin (a management expert) says, nobody is perfect but a team can be. Remember you are as good as your team and recruiting and retaining good team members with complementary skills is essential to delivering good planning. In my current role I am blessed with a first class team of planners, urban designers, engineers and other professionals and I take great pride in the quality results that they achieve. At the end of the day we are judged by the results on the ground. I am delighted with the quality of new developments in the district and the regeneration schemes we have delivered.