This week, we are shining a light on our winners, and who better to start with than our Property Award winner?! And how better than to reproduce Annie’s acceptance speech in which she reacts to her Award win, reflects upon her successful career in planning and looks ahead to more immediate challenges, both for herself personally and the sector as a whole…
It is a huge honour to be the recipient of the 2020 UCEM Property Award, particularly in recognition of the property luminaries that have received it in previous years.
I am particularly thrilled as a Planner, as we do not always get the best press coverage. I hope, well done, we are a force for good and positive change.
It is always wonderful to be recognised for doing something which was stimulating, evolving and, for most of the time, a pleasure!
In my over-40 years in the public sector, I was involved in some fascinating projects and was fortunate to spend 25 years as Planning Services and Development Director at the City of London Corporation with a further six years as their Chief Planning Officer.
A key part of the role involves safeguarding some of the most important heritage in the country, both in terms of buildings, spaces and views whilst delivering the floorspace requirements and needs of a World Financial Centre with a working population of more than 550,000 people.
In the early 1990s, London was in the doldrums and recognised the need to lift its spirit and to build the infrastructure needed to compete as a global city, and my time in the City saw an unprecedented level of development and change.
I was involved in a wide range of projects that have shaped London and its skyline image.
Most memorable were the replacement of the area around St Paul’s with Paternoster Square, the Millennium Bridge, the repurposing of St Bartholomew’s Hospital and the Royal Exchange; as well as The Gherkin followed by the emergence of the city cluster of towers now so recognisable on the skyline.
I have learnt along the way about all manner of material considerations I didn’t anticipate needing to know as a young town planner:
aviation flight paths,
wind, and why buildings cook eggs due to solar convergence,
why bridges wobble, and
the impact of the curvature of the Earth on views,
but I have learnt other lessons as well…
Planners achieve nothing on their own. They need to persuade and convince the property industry to share their aspirations. This needs collaboration, negotiation and drive.
Be brave and push boundaries. Ideas once fringe will, if well considered, become adopted as good practice.
Surround yourself with a first-rate team, both within and outside your organisation, who are as diverse in their contributions as possible, and most important, listen to them.
‘A significant global moment’
As well as COVID which has prevented us being together today, I believe we are at a significant global moment.
Climate change, sustainability, new ways of working and communicating, wellbeing and the need for social inclusion demand our attention.
How we respond to them will shape future generations. The property industry has a key role to play. We need to grasp this moment, and positive planning should be a seminal part of this.
I am looking forward to these continuing challenges and to my continuing role as the Chairman of the London Diocesan Advisory Committee looking after 600 London Churches and as a newly appointed Trustee of the Theatres Trust which could not be at a more prescient time.
For all those involved in UCEM I wish you every success in your post-centenary year and for all those starting out in your careers in property, you have chosen well.
And most particularly, congratulations to all the other Award winners.
Have a very happy virtual celebration.
I thank you again for this wonderful Award and thereby for an association with UCEM.
Finally, I am particularly fond of owls and will look after Oswald [the Owl – UCEM mascot represented on the UCEM Property Award] well.