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Featured Authors, Grotton Revisited

Taking time out of their busy schedules Stephen Ankers, David Kaiserman and Chris Shepley answer some in depth questions about their new book Grotton Revisted ( published in conjunction with the RTPI)


"Loved it , I almost had to be resuscitated" - Professor Sir Peter Hall, Bartlett Professor of Planning and Regeneration, University College London, UK

"It is an extremely funny book, but close enough to the reality of planning practice to be unsettling. It will certainly make you laugh, but it will be a rather nervous sort of laughter." – Australian Planner

1. What would be the key piece of advice you would give to someone who has just qualified as a planner?

CS: Don't bother to learn the rules. They'll change in a minute.

DK: The problem with planners is they can always see the other person's point of view. The problem with other people is that they can't.

SA: Think very carefully. Should you consider retraining?

2. What was the main change you noticed when you revisited Grotton?

CS: The publication of that Draft Action Area Plan for Lower Upton on t' Bogg has REALLY made a difference.

SA: I see they've banned that right turn at the bottom of Sludge Street. And none too soon, if you ask me.

DK: The Co-op now seems to sell something called "focaccia". Is it a floor cleaner?

3. What has been the greatest achievement of Grotton County Council in the last 31 years?

SA: The speed, robustness and flexibility of the "No comments" response to the Secretary of State's proposed changes to to the Regional Spatial Strategy.

CS: Staying alive.

DK: To avoid being run by a Tory Lib-Dem coalition.

4. Who has inspired you and why?

DK: Mrs Satterthwaite, my late form teacher at junior school. "Leave Melanie alone" she used to say. Wise words indeed, given where Melanie ended up. Do you want me to go on?

CS: Professor Audrey Grumpie of the Polytechnic of Central Grotton, all of whose lectures I missed.

SA: Lady Gaga, for her holistic and existential approach to the reorientation of resource prioritization and modal shift. That, and the nice frocks.

5. Tell us one unknown fact about yourself

DK: I'm a recovering stamp collector. Honestly.

SA: I sat next to Ryan Sidebottom at an outdoor fish fry in Barbados during the World Twenty20 Cricket. I believe he still talks about it.

CS: I once represented Essex at lacrosse.

Related Products

  1. Grotton Revisited

    Planning in Crisis?

    By Steve Ankers, David Kaiserman, Chris Shepley

    Series: RTPI Library Series

    Some thirty years ago the small Metropolitan County of Grotton found itself bathed in the bright glare of publicity as The Grotton Papers lifted the lid on the inner workings of the six planning departments of this hitherto little remarked corner of England. The intervening years have seen...

    Published June 24th 2010 by Routledge

About the authors

Steve Ankers was Assistant Director responsible for environment, countryside management, economic development, transport planning and road safety at East Sussex County Council. He was previously head of Countryside Planning at Greater Manchester Council and then Director of Greater Manchester Countryside Unit. He has served on various national bodies including the UK Biodiversity Steering Group, National Coasts and Estuaries Advisory Group, Countryside Recreation Research Advisory Group, Countryside Staff Training Advisory Group, and was Advisor to the AMA on Countryside and Wildlife. He now works part-time as Planning Officer for the South Downs Society, while worrying about his global footprint and Liverpool FC.

David Kaiserman worked as a town planner for 30 years with Manchester City Council and the Greater Manchester Council. During this time, he led teams which prepared the County’s Green Belt and the City Council’s first Unitary Development Plan, and played a major role in a number of high-profile public inquiries. In 1996 he left the post of Acting Director of Planning and Environmental Health at the City and joined TRA Ltd as a Senior Associate, providing training and consultancy support for local authority planners and elected members. At the same time he became a consultant planning inspector. Since 2007 he has been trying to avoid having anything to do with writing this book.

Chris Shepley CBE was the Chief Planning Inspector from 1994 to 2002. Previously he was Director of Development at Plymouth City Council (1985–1994), and held various posts including Deputy County Planning Officer at Greater Manchester Council (1973–1985), and at Manchester City Council (1966–1973). He was President of the RTPI in 1989. He is Hon Visiting Professor at the University of Westminster and held a similar post at the University of Manchester (1990–1994). He has an Honorary DSc from the University of the West of England. He is on the RTPI General Assembly, and the Policy Council of the TCPA, has been on the Council of the European Council of Town Planners and the Planning Aid Council, and is a trustee of the Theatres Trust. He writes a regular column in 'Planning'. He now works as an independent planning consultant. He also grumbles competently.