How do they do it? John Rhodes

Written by: Jez Abbott
Published on: 29 Sep 2014

 John RhodesAs well as a company director, John Rhodes was part of the government’s advisory group on the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and continues to maintain a high profile, featuring in Lord Taylor’s group of experts advising the government on the review of planning guidance. Rhodes also chaired a government task force set up last year on the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and sits on the board of the National Infrastructure Planning Association. 

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

I tackle projects ranging from major infrastructure and large-scale regeneration to residential schemes around the south-east of England. Recent project work has included the Thames Tideway Tunnel, Hinkley Point and Sizewell nuclear plants and Heathrow's terminal three. There is no objective measure on my performance but there are two wider measures. Are your clients happy with with you? Client surveys suggest they are very happy and the company has grown to 75 people in its four years only as a result of providing customer satisfaction. The other is whether your staff are happy. We have young, energetic staff and that rubs off on our strong client relations. 

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

A The long-term view is nearly always better than the short-term.
Your reputation is the only thing you have as a professional of any value: you have to build it, nurture it and preserve it even if that means turning down instructions you do not fully believe in.

Be true to yourself. You have to live with yourself: you are involved in shaping the urban environment and want to be proud of what you do. The more work you do the more you realise the best planning is always achieved by working in consensus with people rather than against them.

Tune in to how you can help your client as much as possible. Lots of planning consultancies produce lengthy reports for people who don't want them. What they do want however is help with a difficult decision.