Urban designer George Weeks talks about his work for TfL, his career aspirations, and why he got into planning.
Why have you chosen planning as a career?
I studied combined social sciences at Durham, specialising in urban geography and economics of social policy. I then did an MSc at Glasgow in city planning and real estate development, followed by an MA in sustainable urbanism at the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community. Planning struck me as a way to put theory into practice and create successful urban environments.
What was your first role in planning?
I worked as a research assistant at the Glasgow Urban Studies Department, investigating international examples of best-practice placemaking. The study was commissioned by the Scottish Government. It was interesting work; I travelled to Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, Ireland and in the UK to carry out site visits and interviews.
What does your current role involve?
I am one of 12 urban designers in TfL. We provide specialist advice across the organisation and work with the London boroughs, the Greater London Authority and independent consultants. This can range from one off enquiries to long term involvement with strategic projects, such as the regeneration of Nine Elms and Battersea.
What projects are you working on?
Many! One example is HS2, where we are working to ensure that the urban realm benefits of a new terminus at Euston are maximised. Railway stations generate enormous footfall and this provides a real opportunity to animate an area.
How do you see your career developing?
I'd like to take more responsibility for larger projects at TfL. I want to develop the interdisciplinary side of my career; I'm a member of the Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation, and the Academy of Urbanism, which complement my RTPI membership and reflect the interdisciplinary nature of urban design. This is what makes it such an interesting profession.