Meet the team – We take a break with Richard Anderson, Associate at Urbanissta…

by Amanda Hayward

What is your background?

Born, brought up and educated in Scotland I took the trip over the border to start my planning career and haven’t gone back over the border to work since (Mum not impressed but does enjoy the trips to London!).  I am based in London and have worked across the UK from West-End real-estate practices, architectural firms as well as Government employ (MoJ and New Deal for Communities), now at Urbanissta, a fantastic boutique planning practice!

What does a typical working day look like?

Aside from Covid restrictions, very varied, take your pick from 1, 2 or 3 of the following.  Running major residential planning applications (200 units+), client, project and design team interaction/cajoling, reviewing development opportunities/constraints, formal pre-app meetings with planning authorities as well as preparing for and attending the planning crunch day – presentation to planning committee.  Aside from client-focused tasks, business focused areas such as networking/marketing/fee proposals and Business Plan updating and addressing key tasks. 

Then there is one aspect of my work which I relish in-particular – site visits!  Inside operational maximum-security prisons (eyes on you!), Tilbury Docks, The French Embassy/French Ambassador’s Residence (diplomacy all round), National Parks, WW2 airfields, the Cornish coast (for 6-months a summer tour of sites/places/opportunities), crematoria (respectful/sobering), roof-line views of London, Leonardo (was Westland) helicopter factory, Ginger Productions = Chris Evans, The Electric Ballroom (nightclub), Listed former police stations … have been paid to go to these places and many more!

What are the values that drive you?

Client satisfaction = repeat business (ideally), business/team satisfaction = my value/satisfaction when carrying out my work!

What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?

Hill-walking = outside London, discovering parts of London with unique history/interest/architecture (roll-on more Open House London) and dining (waistline watch out!) and volunteering …

What volunteering or passion projects do you do outside of work?

Volunteering for Imperial Health Charity at Charing Cross hospital. 

Started out on the Neuro-rehab ward as Patient Activities Volunteer (5 years ago), then (over the past 2 years when Covid was at its height) across the hospital; meal-time delivery to staff across the hospital, basements to 15th floor and at the free-for staff shop giving hard-pressed/pressured staff food, drink and other “essentials.”  Now, A and E greet/assist/explain with patients and staff where necessary and now back to Neuro-rehab too.  I meet regularly with 2 former Neuro-rehab patients who live locally (bumped into them accidentally long after they had been discharged).

Tell us a little-known fact about you..

Not really me, but a deceased member of my family who I found out about when at primary school!  My father’s namesake, David Anderson founded his own engineering practice which became Mott, Hay and Anderson, now Mott MacDonald and herein lies a London connection …

David Anderson was the resident engineer for the reconstruction of Southwark Bridge (which I used to walk across going to work) and Blackfriars Bridge.  Other achievements for him were the Moscow Metro (attended the opening ceremony in 1935) and Lots Road power station (45 mins walk from where I live).  After his death, the firm carried out many essential WW2 engineering projects including deep-surface bomb shelters in London, Northern Line tube extensions and back up to my birthplace, Edinburgh, the 1st Forth Road Bridge and right up to present(ish) day the then controversial and now abandoned New London Bridge!

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