05/11/2019 • General update
It’s very complicated. And we’re very good at it.
Development Director Emma Foster joined Mount Anvil four years ago, with a wealth of experience across planning roles. She’s been integral to our biggest scheme in east London – Royal Eden Docks – so we sat down with her to talk about managing relationships, maximising planning, and delivering the right scheme in the right place.
Hi Emma, tell us a little about you. How did you get into your role at Mount Anvil?
Before Mount Anvil I worked on almost every side of the planning coin – initially as a planning officer with a local authority, then as a planning consultant, before moving into working for developers.
I was with Ballymore, and then at Berkeley. I wanted more variety, challenges, and an opportunity to use everything I’d learned. That’s what led me to Mount Anvil.
Can you tell us a little about your role here?
Well, by the time I get into work I’ve already faced down some big challenges – I have two young kids that I have to get up, give breakfast and get to school, so everything after that feels like a walk in the park…
My role is pretty far-reaching. I lead on the development of design ideas and getting them ready for planning submission. But on any given day I could be working on anything from land acquisition deals right through to planning permissions and meeting local residents. Ultimately everything boils down to ensuring we’re designing and delivering the best scheme we can for everyone involved.
Sounds like you’re a busy lady! You’ve been integral to Royal Eden Docks – a scheme that has won a fair bit of national media attention. What can you tell us about the development?
I can tell you it’s big and it’s complex! ExCeL is our JV partner and the GLA is the freeholder. We're talking almost 800 new homes, 5,000 sq. m of green space – that’s nearly a quarter of the whole site – and a whopping 17 resident amenities focused on health and wellbeing, including a gym & spin studio, cinema room and even a rooftop running track.
I love Royal Eden Docks. I’ve always been drawn to big, complicated developments.
Was it difficult to secure planning for Royal Eden Docks? Why do you think the GLA chose to work with Mount Anvil on the scheme?
It’s definitely been a journey! When I joined Mount Anvil four years ago, my first job was to secure plan for Royal Docks West.
That was a difficult permission. The site had already been partially built, and despite several previous permissions, various owners had struggled to deliver anything on site. We had no knowledge of what structure was in the ground, and it was in a different ownership.
It was just one more thing that had put other developers off. We dealt with it and delivered the scheme in two years. It was really exciting to be a part of.
I think seeing our build quality and the way we approached and handled the job really set the ball rolling for Royal Eden Docks, and laid the foundations (sorry!) for what has become a great ongoing relationship with London Borough of Newham and the GLA.
Is it hard juggling all those different priorities?
It’s what we’re here for. We’re at the centre of that web of stakeholders, managing all of their strategic priorities around maximising the land, affordable housing, access and much more – and we’re designing a brilliant scheme that ticks all those boxes. It’s very complicated. And we’re very good at it.
What would you identify as your superpower?
I’ve been told I’m strategic and a creative thinker. Often people have one or the other – I think the ability to understand strategic challenges and find creative solutions to them just comes from the breadth of experience I have.
What’s your favourite part of your job?
How varied it is, I think. I can be talking design one minute and numbers the next or talking to lawyers before lunch and then getting grilled by local residents straight afterwards.
No two days and no two schemes are the same. And we can design and deliver these schemes because of the drive and ability of our people. It’s the most capable team I’ve ever been a part of.
Do you have a favourite Mount Anvil development?
Lexicon, without a doubt. I just love it – such a beautiful building, such clean lines. Standing at ground level and looking up the tower is amazing.
Interested in being a part of the team here at Mount Anvil? We’re always looking to meet the kind of collaborative, driven and talented people who can thrive here. Visit our careers page to find out more.