How do they do it? Ed Watson

Written by: Jez Abbott
Published on: 17 Jul 2014

Ed Watson

Ed Watson is assistant director of regeneration and planning at the London Borough of Camden. He graduated in town planning from South Bank Polytechnic in 1990 and joined London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham in development control before moving to Camden five years later. After a stint as head of development control at the London Borough of Lambeth he joined the Planning Advisory Service before returning to Camden in 2009.

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

My job is to lead and manage on planning and place-shaping strategy to help deliver the council's objectives in terms of supporting economic growth and using that growth to lever in developer benefits for the community. I have an annual performance review to agree objectives with my director and have another review every six months. At the end of the year there's a moderation of my performance against others across the organisation.

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

A Always focus on outcomes.
Try and focus on the end result rather than the process and make sure what you do deliver is done in way you are confident will have longevity. 

Never forget what you do is a customer service. People's expectations of customer services have risen immeasurably in the last few years in terms of what they can do via iPhones, computers and telephone call centres. Our job is not about performance indicators from government, but helping to deliver successful places for people and it's important not to lose sight of those people.  

Don't forget planning - although not a political process - is political. Think very carefully about how your activities as a planner can be perceived or may reflect political priorities of the administration. The close working relationship between planners and politicians is critical to that word 'trust'.