Outside interest: running a conservation group

Written by: Jez Abbott
Published on: 25 Nov 2015

Peter WilkinsonLandmark Planning managing director Peter Wilkinson is deputy chairman of the Friends of New Walk, the main pedestrian route in Leicester. The mile-long thoroughfare was laid out in 1785 and is lined with Regency, Victorian and contemporary commercial and residential buildings.

How did you get into the Friends of New Walk?

I'm very proud of this part of the country and the New Walk is one of the things that distinguishes and uniquely characterises the city. I was keen to get involved with caring for the immediate environment, so this was an obvious way of becoming practically involved.

What does it involve?

I've been with the group for about seven years and we raise money for things like statues. I help with conservation management plans and try to balance the need to protect the environment with sensible improvements and modernisation where necessary.

Why do you do it?

I have been in planning for over 35 years and still enjoy it. I get a real buzz from examining and working with urban environments, but there is also a professional side to my outside interest: it's part of the practice's corporate social responsibility, something I take very seriously.

What’s the toughest thing about it?

It can occasionally be hard balancing the need to run the organisation along business lines when your team is made up of people from such diverse backgrounds. 

What’s the most rewarding thing about it?

Taking a stroll in town and seeing a new statue or a piece of restoration that we have had some involvement in making it happen makes me feel good.

Are there any similarities between your day job and helping to run Friends of New Walk?

There are big similarities between my day job and outside interest. Keeping New Walk safe and traffic-free, achieving a tree management policy and promoting improvements to the townscape of parks, gardens and buildings all have strong echoes of what I do in the day job.

Do you have any unusual interests or hobbies that you would like to tell us about? If so, please email planning@haymarket.com