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Interview: Pat Hayes at Ealing Council

Wed 14 January 2015, 3:29 pm

In an exclusive interview, Ealing Council's executive director of regeneration and housing, Pat Hayes, caught up with 3Fox International publisher of Ealing in London magazine and organiser of property event, Sitematch, revealing thoughts on how the regeneration of the borough is progressing and where he finds inspiration

Ealing Council's executive director of regeneration and housing, Pat Hayes

Which projects are you most proud of being involved in?

I think I am most proud of the fact that eight years ago we were a dormant suburb of the capital, with no interest from developers. Now we are seen as one of the most attractive investment locations in London and one of the most proactive, ‘go-ahead’ local authorities.

What three developments or enhancements would most benefit Ealing?

The delivery of 12,000 new homes, which are affordable for people to rent or buy on normal salaries, a 50 per cent reduction in vehicular traffic on Uxbridge Road and a comprehensive Dutch style network of segregated cycle ways.

Which three developments outside of Ealing do you most admire and why?

Malmö's Western Harbour in Sweden, Kings Cross in London and La Rive Gauche in Paris. I admire modern developments that retain vibrancy and character without pastiche architecture or a corporate feel. I least like Canary Wharf because it is soulless and full of security guards.

What was your first impression of Ealing when you started out working there?

Moribund and complacent.

What things have surprised you about working in the borough?

The level of development we have been able to attract and the difference we have made. When I started, I thought I would do well if I could get a Pret A Manger into Ealing Town Centre and now we not only have one, but also many more top quality end users, as well as Berkeley Homes, British Land and Land Securities all bringing major developments forward.

What makes developers good partners?

Developers have an interest in getting things done. We aren’t naive and will strike a hard bargain, but at the end of the day we want homes and jobs. We want to enjoy the cut and thrust of getting good quality projects and treading the fine line between maximising public benefit and compromising viability.

If you could change one thing about working in Ealing, what would it be?

To get rid of a lot of the processes, which, encouraged by Mr Pickles, try to prevent us taking quick and radical decisions.

Which three people have inspired you the most – either at work or in your personal life?

Peter Bishop and Fred Manson would be two – truly innovative regeneration directors who inspired me and showed that a motivated individual can really make a difference and that local authority senior officers don’t just have to act as neutral regulators. 

From afar, Janette Sadik–Khan, who as New York's transport commissioner, really started to change the way the city looks and feels and who took on the car lobby. We really need someone like her in London. 

If you could visit any country in the world, where would you go and why?

I love Scandanavia for its egalitarian society and aesthetic, but France in July following the Tour [de France] is probably when I am happiest. I hated it when it came to England as it wasn't the same.

Which book has had the biggest influence on your life?

Professionally, the works of Danish urbanist, Jan Gehl. From a personal point of view, I always go back to novels of Graham Greene and Albert Camus.

When did your most memorable meeting take place and what made it so special?

Probably a meeting with the late Alan Cherry [founder of the developer Countryside Properties] at MIPIM [the annual international property event in Cannes, France], as it was first time we got a major developer really interested in Ealing. To an extent, everything else has flowed from that.  

What is your favourite gadget and why?

Professionally my iPad, but I couldn’t live without my bikes.

What is your biggest professional achievement? 

I will let others decide that.

For more exclusive interviews with senior officers and councillors from London's local authority's, visit the borough profiles on the Sitematch London website. 

Ealing Council will attend the upcoming Sitematch London event on 10 February 2015. To secure your place contact Sophie Gosling on 020 7978 6840, or by emailing sophie@3foxinternational.com.

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