Leaders Plus Mentors

Each Leaders Plus candidate is paired with a senior mentor from Future of London’s extensive cross-sector network. These mentors provide a ‘safe space’ sounding board for candidates, as well as invaluable experience and insights from their own careers. See here for more about mentoring.

Leaders Plus Round 11 – Mentors

Dr Phil Askew
Director – Landscape & Placemaking, Peabody

Phil is an experienced landscape and urban designer who has spent the last 15 years as an expert client leading significant projects including the design and delivery of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the regeneration of Thamesmead in SE London for Peabody. He is a respected leader in the industry sitting on design review and judging panels and is a Design Council Ambassador. He is an empathetic leader, passionate about design and focussed on the challenges and opportunities that public space presents. He is creative, strategic and detail focussed, calm and modest with an interest in people and place.

Mark Baigent
Corporate Director of Regeneration & Culture, LB Redbridge

Mark leads on housing delivery, town centre regeneration, planning, corporate property, libraries, leisure, and culture services. He has worked in local authorities for over 30 years, including senior roles at Haringey, Tower Hamlets, Lewisham, Greenwich, and Kensington & Chelsea. Mark has led a number of partnership and collaboration projects, including setting up Capital Letters (the pan-London procurement hub for temporary accommodation). He has also worked as a consultant advising on council-owned local housing companies and published several practical guidance books on housing companies, capital investment and emergency housing responses.

Ken Baikie
Director of Regeneration, Winchester City Council

Ken is a planner and has over 30 years’ experience of working in London/Essex/Herts  for a variety of Councils on planning, transport and housing delivery.  For the last 15 years he has spent much of his time working on some of London’s most interesting regeneration projects, including Thamesmead for Peabody Trust, Barking Riverside for both the council and English Partnerships/HCA, and latterly on estate regeneration projects for Notting Hill Genesis (NHG) at Grahame Park and the Aylesbury Estate as well as a number of interim assignments for a range of Local Authorities.  He has just started a new role as Director of Regeneration for Winchester City Council.  He has previously mentored Future London Leaders and Leaders Plus candidates and was awarded FoL’s first ever Outstanding Contribution for mentors in 2021.

Virginia Blackman
Principal & National Head – Site Assembly & Compulsory Purchase, Avison Young

Virginia’s particular interest is in getting involved from the start of the project through to delivery, ensuring site assembly is integrated with the commercial, planning and wider project process and team, and communication and engagement with the local community. She is a regular speaker for the Compulsory Purchase Association, Waterfront Conferences and Westminster Briefings. Recent projects include five garden communities, West Hendon Estate Regeneration, Vicarage Fields Barking, High Road West, Kings Landing Maidenhead, Calverley Square Tunbridge Wells, growth plans at Bristol City Airport and advising a number of those affected by HS2 at Euston. Clients include London Borough of Haringey, Metropolitan Housing Association, Barratt, London & Newcastle, and Regus. She is a member of the RICS Working Group on Compulsory Purchase, an experienced expert witness, and a Registered Valuer. Virginia has worked with the Future of London Diversity Speaker Network and has mentored colleagues.

Barbara Brownlee
Chief Executive, Soho Housing Association

Before joining Soho Housing Association as Chief Executive, Barbara spent 4 years as Executive Director of Growth Planning and Housing in Westminster developing and delivering the city’s ambitious affordable housing programme and transforming the housing delivery service. She went on to lead the city’s wholly owned housing development company, Westminster Builds. This follows 15 years working in London Boroughs and the private sector in development and regeneration. Barbara is on the Board of Sovereign Network Group a G15 Housing Association and is co-owner of a home gallery in Islington.

Tracey Downie
Chief Executive, Women’s Pioneer Housing

Tracey has delivered a range of social housing services at senior, executive and non-executive level for over 15 years. Tracey began her career tackling racial harassment in some of the most deprived areas of south Birmingham and, throughout her 25 years in the housing sector, has continued to be an advocate for inclusivity and diversity. Tracey remains committed to delivering good quality social housing including through non-executive roles and she has recently been appointed Chair of Ekaya Housing Association.

Matthew Essex
Executive Director – Place, RB Kingston

Matthew has worked in regeneration, project management and property for more than 25 years in a variety of roles across local government, the non-profit sector and development corporations. Matthew is an experienced mentor and a regular contributor at conferences and round tables on local authority led housing companies, mixed-use developments and placemaking. As Executive Director of Place at Kingston, Matthew is responsible for planning, property, regeneration, housing and the Council’s capital programme – leveraging the value of the council’s significant landholding to drive an ambitious development programme across the leisure, commercial and housing portfolios including the regeneration of the Cambridge Road Estate through a long-term JV with Countryside.

Claudette Forbes
Director, CAF Consulting

Claudette is a highly experienced urban regeneration professional, with 25 years of experience at a senior level within local and regional government in London and the southeast. As Director for Regeneration at the London Development Agency, she spearheaded the agency’s £125m per annum London-wide regeneration programme. More recently, as a Director at CAF Consulting Ltd, she has developed an impressive body of work assisting local authorities and registered providers, advising on, and leading their regeneration efforts. She is also on the Board of Directors for Future of London.

Caroline Harper
Deputy Managing Director, Be First

Caroline is a strategic thinker who pays attention to detail, has a great love for cities and the built environment and enjoys working with good people who like to get things done. A planner by background, she recognises that planning is but one piece of overall regeneration. In her current role at Be First, the urban regeneration vehicle for LB Barking & Dagenham, her role has broadened to encompass regeneration, inward investment and business development. She’s a regular panellist, podcaster and conference presenter, and in 2023, joined the Future of London Board. Prior to Be First she worked as JLL’s first female Planning Director in London and at CBRE before that.

Gerry Hughes
Managing Director, Gerry Hughes Consulting

Gerry has earned a reputation as a highly respected hands-on leader, passionate about enhancing people’s lives through the buildings and places we create. An urban planner by training, he is recognised as a skilled ringmaster who successfully formulates inspirational place strategies and masterplans and translates them into delivered developments, always with an eye on the implications for local residents and businesses. Gerry was GVA Chief Executive for several years and steered GVA through private equity ownership back to partnership, via the merger with Avison Young. On becoming a Principal at Avison Young, he led their European business for several years before leaving in 2022 to set up a consultancy focusing on urban regeneration and placemaking. Gerry is a passionate advocate for equality, diversity, and inclusion and for the modernisation of the real estate and planning professions to open opportunities to talent from all sections of society.

Alexander Jan
Chair, Central District Alliance BID

Alexander is former chief economist of Arup where he managed teams delivering a wide range of projects tackling problems and opportunities facing London and other major cities on matters ranging from infrastructure plans to business rates reform. He is currently chair of the Central District Alliance and Hatton Garden business improvement districts which cover Camden and Islington between and around Farringdon and Tottenham Court Road Elizabeth line stations.
Alex is chief economic advisor to the London Property Alliance (City and Westminster property associations) and is an independent advisor to the EC BID in the City of London. He is currently writing a biography of Lord Ashfield (1874-1948), the creator and first chairman of London Transport.

Rob Krzyszowski
Assistant Director – Planning, Building Standards & Sustainability, LB Haringey

Rob is an Assistant Director at the London Borough of Haringey covering planning, transport, infrastructure, land charges, building control and carbon management. Rob has previously worked at Brent, Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham, Ealing, and Birmingham City Councils. Rob co-founded Planning Out, a professional network for LGBT+ planners, is the Chair of the RTPI’s England Policy Panel and has previously chaired the London Planning Summit and the national Young Planners Conference. Rob was listed as one of Property Week’s RESI Trailblazers in 2018.

John Lumley
Strategic Director – Assets and Regeneration, L&Q

At L&Q John has Group-wide responsibility for asset management; stock rationalisation; homeownership and leaseholder services; London Living Rent and intermediate products; all new build sales & marketing; and L&Q Estates – L&Q’s strategic land and development business. Prior to re-joining L&Q four years ago he was Director of Regeneration at Hackney Council, responsible for creating and leading one of the largest direct delivery programmes of council housebuilding in the country, as well as housing strategy & policy, economic regeneration, and private sector housing. Before Hackney, John worked at L&Q in a variety of development and regeneration roles for ten years. He is a board member and the treasurer of Future of London, a Board member of Future of Greater Manchester, and a trustee of the New Cross Gate Trust.

David Lunts
Chief Executive Officer, Old Oak & Park Royal Development Corp.

As CEO at OPDC, David oversees the evolution of the regeneration strategy and the team in light of ongoing planning and funding challenges. Until 2020, David led the Mayor’s housing, land and development functions and prior to that, he was HCA Executive Director for London, and GLA Executive Director for Policy & Partnerships, responsible for planning, regeneration, environmental and social policy. Before joining the GLA in 2005, David was Director of Urban Policy at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. David began his housing and regeneration career in Manchester, including leading the City Challenge renewal of Hulme in the early 1990s. He moved to London in 1996 to run the not-for-profit Urban Villages Forum; was founding chief executive of the Prince’s Foundation in 1998; served on Lord Rogers’ Urban Task Force; was Chair of the Future of London Board from 2011-2016, a board director to 2023, and an award-winning mentor. David is also a trustee of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Ed Watson
Director, Ed Watson & Associates

Ed runs his own strategic planning and place consultancy, EW&A, having previously been a senior leader in local government. He works with a range of public and private sector clients including Arup, British Land and Be First. He is a non-executive director of a small architectural practice. At Westminster City Council he led the West End Partnership (WEP) as well as being the Executive Director for Growth, Planning and Housing. From 2009 to 2015 Ed was at LB Camden leading the Environment, Planning and Regeneration Directorates, where he led on Kings Cross, HS2 and the Council’s own development programme – the Community Investment Programme.

Joanne Woodward
Chief Planning Officer, LB Hammersmith & Fulham

Joanne has over 30 years experience of planning in the public sector in London and has held senior leadership roles in other boroughs across the capital. She has led the delivery of strategic plans and corporate programmes that deliver good quality development and successful regeneration, working across the public and private sector. Her experience includes the delivery of multi-million-pound projects, whilst negotiating significant benefits for local communities. She is currently responsible for the council’s award-winning civic campus programme – a joint venture delivering a mixed-use development of 200+ new homes, commercial and creative space around a restored listed town hall in the heart of hammersmith town centre. She’s a chartered town planner, member of the RTPI and holds an MBA. Jo is a member of the New London Architecture Expert Panel on Planning and an expert assessor of the annual NLA awards.

Follow this link to see the mentors for Future of Greater Manchester’s Leaders Plus.