How do they do it? Lawrence Revill

Written by: Jez Abbott
Published on: 1 Dec 2014

Lawrence Revill

Lawrence Revill is a town planner and urban designer with more than 30 years experience of complex and large-scale regeneration and new development projects. He has focused on masterplanning projects in the north east, Yorkshire and the east of England for public-sector and private developer clients providing strategic and tactical planning advice while managing multidisciplinary teams. In recent years Revill has produced a regeneration framework for Durham, a development strategy for the Felixstowe peninsula, a complex planning strategy for the regeneration of Adastral Park, Ipswich, and the development of key sites in Hull city centre. He graduated in planning from Trent Polytechnic in 1978.

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

My objective is through planning to make places excellent or alternatively to regenerate places to make them better than they were. This encompasses a wealth of different projects. I have an annual review but as a partner in the business they become more an informal chat than a formal evaluation. I am not measured on how much money I bring to the company – that's not our way – senior people are trusted to get on with the work they do and bring it in profitably.

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

A. The quality of the brief determines the quality of the outcome. Form follows function and unless you are clear about the function of your town, plot of land or building you won't be successful in determining what the form should take.

However good your plan the outcome will always be a surprise. Therefore you need plans that can accommodate flexibility and change – I have never been a great believer in blueprints and you should seek to control only the things that need controlling and leave everything else loose.

The quality for the public realm determines how good people feel about the place in which they live, work, shop or play. Architecture is important but not that important: if you get the public realm right, that's what people will remember.