Press release

Planning Inspectorate appoints first ever independent Chairman of the Board

Today, Monday 4 August 2014, The Planning Inspectorate has announced the appointment of Sara Weller as the independent Chairman of its Board.

The appointment follows a review of the Inspectorate’s Board and its wider governance, which identified a need to build capacity for strategic leadership. In her role as Chairman, Sara will work with the other Non-Executive Directors to provide support and challenge to the Chief Executive and executive management team through an advisory Board.

Sara has considerable experience from her executive and non-executive career to date that is directly relevant to the Inspectorate and its strategic goals. She has an extensive background leading successful, customer focused, private sector organisations, culminating in 7 years as Managing Director of Argos, where she led the expansion of the company’s business on the high street and online. She now holds a number of directorships across the private and public sector, including being on the Board at Lloyds Banking Group and United Utilities.

Sara is also the Lead Non-Executive Director at the Department of Communities and Local Government. This gives her an excellent understanding of the context in which the Inspectorate operates.

The Planning Inspectorate’s Chief Executive, Simon Ridley, said: “I’m delighted that Sara Weller has agreed to join the Inspectorate as its first ever independent Chairman of the Board. Sara brings a wealth of relevant experience to our organization. Having an independent Chairman provides an important line of separation between my role as Chief Executive, in which I am accountable to DCLG, and independent support and challenge to our strategic direction.”

Sara Weller said: “This is a very exciting opportunity for me to take up a senior role in an organization that is such an important part of the planning system and supporting economic growth. I’m looking forward to working closely with Simon and his management team.”

“The Planning Inspectorate is absolutely central to delivering high quality decisions and advice that fairly and impartially ensure sustainable development. I’m already familiar with the role of the Inspectorate and the extent to which it is held in high regard by such a diverse range of partners, from members of the public to planning professionals, government departments and Ministers. It’s in all of our interests for the Inspectorate to retain this strong reputation as it continues to strive to be the foremost national body on planning knowledge and expertise”

Ends

Notes to editors

The appointment runs from 1 August 2014 until 15 December 2016. The Chairman is expected to spend two days per month on Planning Inspectorate business, including chairing the board meetings.
The post is held at the discretion of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in England and the Minister for Housing and Regeneration in Wales. An honorary fee of £20,000 per year is payable. A photo of Sara Weller is available upon request