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Stephen Wilkinson jumped at the chance to head planning and regeneration at Lee Valley Park after seeing an adverti...
Stephen Wilkinson jumped at the chance to head planning and regeneration at Lee Valley Park after seeing an advertisement in LGC, says Suzanne Simmons-Lewis

Stephen Wilkinson, Head of planning and regeneration, Lee Valley Regional Park Authority

Advertised November 2005

Started work March 2006

Reports to Director of regeneration


Masters in business administration

Diploma in land administration

Degree in town and county planning

Biggest challenge

'Putting this authority on the map.'


Local government manager, Audit Commission

CPA inspector, Audit Commission

Value for money auditor, Audit Commission

Area planning officer, Westminster City Council

Area planning officer, Islington LBC

Deputy team leader, planning, Enfield LBC

Planning officer, Haringey LBC

Best part of the role

'The sheer variety and challenge in one organisation.'

Describe your job

I am head of planning and regeneration for Lee Valley Regional Park Authority. It covers 26 miles, from Ware in Hertfordshire to the River Thames at East India Dock.

What are your main responsibilities?

We are not a local planning authority but we prepare plans of future development proposals to guide local

authorities. I work with partners to deliver improved facilities and access to all areas of the park across London, Hertfordshire and Essex and am responsible for developing a community engagement strategy to encourage participation in events and put the authority on the map.

What attracted you to the role?

I joined from the Audit Commission, where I spent eight years in the public sector. I was interested in a move back to local government to be part of the regeneration challenges in east London and the unique opportunities the 2012 Olympics will bring to the park authority. This role is at the centre of a lot of planning and regeneration as it includes two growth areas, the Thames Gateway and the London, Stansted, Cambridge and Peterborough corridor.

Why did you get the job?

My experience and enthusiasm. I am a planner by trade and have worked for four London boroughs. Two of those, Enfield and Haringey, are adjoining boroughs to the park authority. Also through my work at the Audit Commission, I developed a good understanding of issues which face

local authorities and their relationship with central government. I was able to demonstrate that I have the knowledge to tackle the challenges faced by the authority and the ability to focus on partnership working.

Which parts of the role do you like best and what are the biggest challenges?

Most enjoyable is the sheer variety and challenge contained in one organisation that can impact on so many other parts of London, Hertfordshire and Essex. The biggest challenge is putting this authority on the map. We have been around for 40 years but many people in our area don't know we exist, even though they use some of our facilities, like the ice rink.

What's been the most surprising thing you've experienced as part of the role?

The sheer range of facilities across the park, its diversity in terms of landscape. The facilities range from the regional centre of excellence for ice skating and the Lea Valley Athletics Park (an

Olympic venue) to nature reserves and country parks. There are eight sites of special scientific interest.

How is it going?

The growth areas funding has gone well. We got£1.8m for the London, Stansted, Cambridge and Peterborough corridor and we are planning a range of exciting schemes. For example we are opening up Tottenham Marshes; there will be new access, additional signage and schemes to support local biodiversity.

Name one thing that would help you do your job better?

Enough time to digest the wealth of policy initiatives from government, partners and stakeholders, to inform and shape our core vision.

What advice would you give to someone seeking a similar role?

Anyone involved in a role that takes strategy forwards needs to be clear about what they want to achieve and be clear about how to communicate that message to a wide range of stakeholders and partners.

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