How do they do it? Philip Barnes

Written by: Susie Sell
Published on: 26 Mar 2014

Philip Barnes
Philip Barnes is group land and planning director for Barratt Developments, tasked with helping the business build more homes.

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

My role is to help the business achieve its objective of building more homes. Firstly, to support our 27 divisions across the UK to buy more land on terms which ensure we can build great places. Secondly, to help ensure we work effectively with local authorities to produce planning applications which can be determined smoothly and quickly.

I was part of a small team drafting our business strategy up to 2020. With that now agreed by the board I will be measured in terms of how well the land and planning function performs against the goals, targets and timescales within the strategy.

Another key objective is to continue improving how we engage with local communities when proposing new developments. This means both listening clearly to those living close to the scheme but also seeking out the views of younger people who may have less time to engage but are often directly affected by the housing crisis.

Q. What key lessons have you learnt during your career?

My time in local government was invaluable. It taught me about the day-to-day pressures which hard working planners face day-in, day-out. It also taught me exactly how plans are prepared, how applications are determined and gave insights on the politics of planning. Those hard-earned lessons remain beneficial today.

Leading a consultancy office of 40 professionals taught me that effective leadership is about partnership and collaboration. Having a team of talented professionals all working towards a common goal of producing high-quality work for loyal clients made me realise that when innovative people work together some amazing results are produced. It also taught me that most of the time developers and local planners are working towards the same objective. I learnt that finding and driving forward that common interest, as opposed to dictat or confrontation is most effective.

Joining Barratt has quickly taught me the importance of innovation. Land and planning is an incredibly fast moving and political arena yet the success of multi-million pound, long-term developments depend on robust evidenced-based decisions being made every day. Only by thinking innovatively and looking ahead can we deliver commercial advantage.

And probably the final lesson from my career so far is the one I tell my children. It's hard to beat a person who shows humility but never gives up.