Victoria Hesson joined Gladman Developments as a land and planning director before her current role as managing director. She qualified in architecture at Liverpool University and did a masters in town and regional planning at Leeds University while a graduate trainee for Persimmon Homes. Hesson has over 12 years’ experience in the housebuilding industry, specialising in land and planning. She has worked in planning consultancy, for Turley, and for a number of major house builders, including Redrow, Miller Homes and Linden Homes.
What are your objectives in your current role and how are you measured against them?
Much of my work is on the day-to-day running of our business, which includes 13 senior planners together with a further 20 planners and graduate planners. I provide strategic advice to our project teams on each of the sites we promote through the planning system. I also, where possible, still try to get involved in examinations, inquiries and expert witness work. We don't have hard-and-fast measures to assess performance: planning is an unpredictable environment with lots of shades of grey and only a few black-and-white areas. We do however aim to submit at least 10 planning applications each month.
What key lessons have you learned during your career that help you to fulfil these objectives?
Wherever there's a problem there's always a solution. Whatever the planning problem, there will always be an answer, as long as you persevere and use a little lateral thinking from time to time - it might not be the answer you thought but there will be one.
Collaboration is crucial. No one in planning should work individually: every application is put together by a significant proportion of people, all of whom are important to the process.
Be prepared. I will never turn up to a meeting unless I'm 100 per cent prepared and have done all the necessary background research, be it for an application or to give evidence.