He wanted Scroby Wind Farm painted in rainbow colours... Great Yarmouth town planner retires

PUBLISHED: 10:29 28 December 2012

Great Yarmouth Borough Councils head of planning Peter Warner who has retired after 30 + years at the council.
Pictured close to Breydon Bridge which was a scheme he was involved in.

Picture: James Bass

Great Yarmouth Borough Councils head of planning Peter Warner who has retired after 30 + years at the council. Pictured close to Breydon Bridge which was a scheme he was involved in. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2012

If you have visited Great Yarmouth, you have already seen his “gallery” of work.

For it includes Breydon Bridge and Scroby Wind Farm, a seafront free of boarded-up hotels and Broads countryside up to St Olaves cleared of unsightly pylons.

If he had his way all the time, the white turbines of Scroby would be painted in rainbow colours - though fears coloured paint would fade saw this idea abandoned.

But Peter Warner, the borough council’s head of planning, has decided now is the right time to retire.

The 59-year-old joined the authority at the bottom of the ladder - as a trainee planner - in 1975, and through hard work and loyalty reached the top in 2005.

And the father-of-two, who lives in Acle, says that he has fond memories of working in Yarmouth.

“I started at the bottom and, if you like, got to the top of my profession,” he said. “It’s been quite a good journey.

“Although I’ve applied for jobs elsewhere during that time, Yarmouth has always proved to be an interesting and exciting challenge because of all the issues.

“Where else could you go in the country as a planning officer and have experience of a port, a holiday industry, a heli-port, a national park on your doorstep - as well as the high unemployment and social issues in town.”

He says he is proud of work on blueprints for Beacon Park at Gorleston and the 600-home Teresa Park development around Prince of Wales Road, Caister.

Other highlights of his 37-year career include getting Broads pylons buried between Yarmouth and St Olaves - as a planning condition when Yarmouth power station was built that cost the developers “a fortune”.

He helped save the railway line via Reedham in the 1980s, got Yarmouth’s Market Place pedestrianised and oversaw the refurbishment of the bus station and the Regent Road entrance to Market Gates.

And Gorleston’s relief road and western bypass were built on his watch.

“I think being able to get schemes off the ground is where I get the most satisfaction,” said Mr Warner. “People say you can’t do it, we say yes you can.”

But it was pure chance that he came to Yarmouth, as after completing his degree at the University of Leicester he wrote to councils up and down the country seeking work - with jobs as hard to come by then as now.

Yarmouth was the first authority to make him an offer, and gave him a loan to complete a masters degree in town planning at the University of Sheffield.

And he has put that knowledge to good use across the borough - saying the biggest challenge was the seafront.

“When I joined lots of hotels were boarded up and we had the challenge of attracting new uses and investment,” he said. “Now we have a zero tolerance policy on boarding up on the seafront.”

He said using all the “tools” available to planners helped turn the Golden Mile around, including permitting run-down hotels to be turned into up-market apartments.

Mr Warner plans to use his newly-found free time to enjoy his hobbies.

These include ballroom dancing, he is a director of the mid-Norfolk railway group, an accredited preacher with the Methodist church and he is also studying part-time for a theology degree at the Anglia Ruskin University.

But he doesn’t intend “hanging up the quill pen” yet - for he is starting as eastern region chairman for the Royal Town Planning Institute in January 2013.

Mr Warner will not be replaced at the borough council, as the role of head of planning has been made redundant in the recent restructure.

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