Communication is the key, says Dandara Eastern's new Land & Planning Director

If there’s one thing that Dandara Eastern’s new Land & Planning Director, John Baines, has learned in his long career in the field, it’s the importance of good communication and building relationships across the industry – which he brings to his new role.

Taking on the senior position in the newest division of independent property developer Dandara, John will be responsible for both sourcing and acquiring new land in the Eastern region and obtaining planning permission for proposed new developments. “My key goals are to grow the business in a sustainable way, by acquiring good quality sites in desirable locations and delivering planning permissions for schemes where our customers will be proud to live and call home,” he explains.

John’s background means that he is familiar with all sides of the planning process – including the conflict it can provoke. “I studied Town & County Planning at the University of Manchester and started my career working as a local authority planning officer at Rochford District Council in Essex in 1997,” he recalls. “My first job provided a good grounding in the murky world of the planning system. I learned the rules of the game, and that the role of the planner should be to bring people of divergent views together to find common ground and facilitate development.”

After working for a number of local authorities, John moved into consultancy and started his own business in 2004, providing advice to individuals and developers hoping to gain planning permission. From there he became a Planning Manager at Fairview New Homes, followed by a similar role at Hopkins Homes and promotions to Planning Director and Land & Planning Director at Vistry Eastern (formerly Linden Homes), before joining Dandara’s new division earlier in the year.

“I was attracted to Dandara because the role offered the opportunity to start a new regional division in an area of the county that I know well, with an excellent employer and with ambitious growth plans. The vast majority of my career has been spent in the Eastern region, and I think that the main thing I have learned is that good relationships and communication are the most important factors in most things in life. I feel that what we do makes a difference in people lives. We impact local residents in the areas which we develop and I hope that we provide benefits to existing communities in the social value that we bring to an area.”

John has a huge amount of enthusiasm for his new role. “What I really like about working in property is that no two days are ever the same. There is always a different challenge to be overcome and that keeps things exciting. We provide new homes to our customers who are often making the most significant investment of their lives. This all starts with the land opportunity and the planning permission that is obtained. I love going back and seeing completed developments which I remember from the first concept sketch.”

John’s career highlight to date has been developing the Brunel Street Works in Canning Town, where he delivered planning permission for Linden Home’s flagship project of 975 units, hotel, retail and commercial space fronting Silvertown Way. Now he is excited about Dandara Eastern’s new flagship project which will be launching in the spring, to build 575 new homes, plus schools and community facilities, on the outskirts of Braintree at Towerlands Park.

It is planned that Dandara Eastern will deliver around 500 new homes a year in the prime commuter belt housing market of Essex, Suffolk, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire, with further developments already in the pipeline for Elsenham in north Essex, so John will be out and about in the region looking for the perfect place for a new Dandara development. Interestingly, he will be working with others in the senior management team, including Regional Director John Stanton, who have also worked previously at Linden Homes. “I have come across numerous former colleagues and contacts over the years,” he says. “It is always good to catch up on what is going on with their careers and how their lives have changed in the intervening period, and I’m delighted to discover that at Dandara I am now working with some former colleagues from my early Linden days.”