Interview: Shane Baker at Hounslow Council
Fri 28 November 2014, 2:53 pm
Area planning manager at the London Borough of Hounslow, Shane Baker, speaks to Great West magazine about his role and interests.
What has surprised you about working in the borough?
The number of large parks, found right across the borough from Chiswick House to Hounslow Heath; the scenery of Strand on the Green. There is probably scope to improve access through creating better cycle and pedestrian links to the parks, but I think the best way of making use of open spaces is just to protect them. Also, it is surprising that Hounslow is not more well known, given how well located it is between Heathrow and central London.
What three developments or enhancements would most benefit Hounslow?
Tunnelling the A4 through Chiswick; opening some cinemas in Hounslow town centre; and providing a new rail link to Brentford from Southall and Willesden Junction (linking to Crossrail) to open up the potential of the Golden Mile.
What makes developers good partners?
A willingness to listen to the views of existing residents and businesses; ensuring the quality and accuracy of documents that support applications, and making sure they are easy to understand; providing honest, detailed information in response to queries; and knowing the difference between being assertive and being aggressive.
When people find out you work in Hounslow, what are the most common things they ask?
Is it near Heathrow? There are many businesses in Hounslow that work in and around the airport but we could improve the public trasnport links between Feltham town centre and the airport.
If you could visit any country in the world, where would you go and why?
Australia, that's where I'm from, so I go to see family and to go surfing. I go once a year - mostly to the beaches between the Gold Coast and Sydney.
Is there anything going on in regeneration and development down under which you think could work in Hounslow?
As in London, lots of former dock areas and industrial land along Sydney's foreshore have been redeveloped with housing and leisure uses. Brentford especially needs to make the most of its frontage to the river.
When did your most memorable meeting take place and what made it so special?
At the School of Artillery, North Head, Manly, Australia – spectacular views of Sydney Harbour from what was at the time a restricted area. The commanding officer was impressive.