How do they do it? John Turner

Written by: Jez Abbott
Published on: 12 Jan 2015

John Turner

John Turner worked for London boroughs including Islington, City of London, Merton and Barnet before joining consultancy ABA Town Planning and rising to managing director. In 1993 he joined NHS Estates to head up planning and development in the north Thames region and in 1998 joined the international development investment firm Ballymore Group. The qualified surveyor gained a postgraduate diploma in town planning from London Metropolitan University at the start of his career.

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

I joined the company in the 1990s to build up the planning team but now my objectives are strategic: I engage with politicians, planning officers and groups such as the Greater London Authority (GLA) on wider planning issues. I am not measured on the number of units on a site but on planning permissions, which is the crucial measure.

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

A. Planning is a people business. It's about engagement, building relationships and understanding the position of local authority officers, often short on resources and sometimes demotivated, to achieve successful outcomes.

Good planning outcomes come from strong senior management. There has to be a good working partnership between the senior management individual and local leadership in the form of the chair of the planning committee.

Everything will change. Policies, legislation, scheme designs, officers and planning ministers come and go – planning is a very dynamic practice and you must be adaptable enough to respond.