Sunday, 2 August, 2020


Jamie Ounan

We believe that the best solutions are yet to be discovered and the best outcomes yet to be delivered. That is why we prepare organisations for change and help them implement it. We do this through an intimate understanding of their business, a relentless focus on delivery, the use of techniques that challenge the status quo and bridge traditional disciplines. We provide a range of services to public and private organisations including project and programme management, property consultancy, change management and strategy development and strategic advice. Contact us to discuss a project.

Sunday, 2 August, 2020

Looking back, looking forward, looking into space.



It’s August Holidays and Inner Circle had a heap of deadlines to meet, but the hard work is worth it for the satisfaction and knowing some of us have a break coming up.


Among many things this month, the team have helped the London Boroughs of Newham and Tower Hamlets produce business cases for Local Infrastructure Loan Applications. The loans will forward fund walking and cycling bridges across the River Lea, the north-south waterway in East London that goes all the way to Luton. The Olympic masterplan did a good job of knitting together the Stratford and Hackney Wick archipelago. However, a travel little further south and the river severs existing communities from jobs, new developments from shops, and services in existing neighbourhoods. The project made us look back at the Lower Lea Valley Opportunity Area Planning Framework that we worked on 13 years ago and it holds up pretty well. Using our Community Impact Model tool to show a synthesis of cost-benefit ratio and the Net Present Social Value, the team provided evidence of significant benefits to communities that arise from reconnecting neighbourhoods and a return on investment of 4-5 times more than the cost. We just hope National government versus London government politics don’t impede this forwarding thinking piece of infrastructure investment and future community wealth building.


The team are also seeing more clients progressing with asset reviews. Working from home, fewer polluting train and car journeys, and more time spent on productive work means many large employers are confirming people will not come back to the office until the new year at best. One large pharmaceutical firm we know is testing 3D, augmented reality meetings – the stuff of the Jedi Council in Star Wars franchise. Whilst there is no digital tool (Skype, Zoom or Teams) that can be a replacement for collective human physical experience, the operative word here is ‘augmented’. Physical and digital must now combine in new ways – the metaverse is closer than ever.


We’re also very pleased to have been appointed to work with North Somerset Council on their future ways of working to create an asset strategy and development programme. As advancements in digital communication shift the polarity of economic geography scarcity principles, we think places like Weston-Super-Mare may just have a new lease of life. Swift action from the Council is just what’s needed to seize the day.



In any recession, ‘little things’ like design standards get dropped. Between times they usually get enhanced. It feels like we’re back to allowing standards to drop once more as new planning rules are announced in the press. The extension of permitted development and the evidence of terrible living standards are appalling. However, the quicker delivery of infrastructure is long overdue. For us, this places responsibility in the hands of developers, advisors, and bold local public sector project managers to choose to design well.  We do not have to use these changes as a race to the bottom. I know Inner Circle will continue to maintain its emphasis on good quality and will always look to the legacy that our advice will leave.


Fear Less, Pippa Grange the sport psychologist that famously helped England win a penultimate shootout. If we ever find ourselves in the position of a World Cup final, we’ll know the trick. Otherwise it’s a great read about how fear can grip us by obvious and insidious means, and great strategies for overcoming it in your life.

We’ve just finished Invisible Women by Carolina Perez. It shows how deep male bias runs through the design that shapes our lives. Car safety, city management, and the office temperature are all examples of stubborn gender bias we must all take time to understand and then act on.


Here’s what’s on our summer holiday reading list. We’ll let you know how we get on:




We’ve got an excellent webinar tomorrow, held in partnership with The Voice of Authority. Some details below:


Achieving inclusive growth and exploring community wealth building tomorrow from 1100-1200.

We know that local authorities want to encourage growth as a means of local economic prosperity. But how do you ensure that local people are benefitting from development, investment and change? You’ve heard talk about inclusive growth and community wealth building. How do these phrases, and the strategies behind them, translate into action? This webinar will explore three case studies, including the political imperatives, the policy development, the practical actions and the outcomes deliveredSign up here.


  • Joanne Drew, Director of Housing and Regeneration, London Borough of Enfield
  • Nabeel Khan, Director of Enterprise, Jobs and Skills, London Borough of Lambeth
  • Nick Kimber, Head of Inclusive Economy, London Borough of Camden
  • Jamie Ounan, Director, Inner Circle Consulting