I grew up in industrial Oldham, Lancashire on the edge of the Pennines – so moors and mountains are part of my folk memory even though I now live in the softer chalk downlands of West Berkshire.
I studied my BSc Environmental Science at the University of East Anglia graduating in 1973, staying on to do my PhD on ‘The Evaluation of Landscape Quality’. I gained my Town Planning Diploma at Leeds Polytechnic and Membership of the Royal Town Planning Institute in 1980, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1998.
Unlike many LRG Director colleagues, no academic research for me, since I pursued a career in planning and related environmental work. I started as a Planning Assistant then Senior Planning Officer at Kirklees Metropolitan Council. I moved to Humberside County Council as Countryside Officer in 1984, and then to Berkshire County Council in 1988 as Head of Environment, responsible for strategic planning, minerals and waste planning, landscape and nature conservation, heritage and archaeology, and countryside access. From 1993 to 2000 I worked in environmental and planning consultancy as Divisional Director with Babtie Group Ltd, before joining the Audit Commission. In August 2008 I was appointed as Director of Service Delivery and Head of Planning at South Northamptonshire Council, in charge of the council’s planning, environmental health, waste management and related activity, retiring in December 2011. I was then appointed as an independent member of the Environment Agency’s Thames Region Flood and Coastal Committee, being re-appointed for a second term until the end of 2019.
I became a committee member for the original Landscape Research Group in 1978, and was appointed Treasurer in 1980. A key first task was to transform the Group in 1983 into its current status of a private limited company and registered charity, becoming a founder director and Treasurer. I have been a director and the Treasurer ever since, and was Company Secretary from 1997 to 2017.