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Q&A: John Lewis, Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation

PUBLISHED: 09:53 18 February 2011 | UPDATED: 18:54 20 February 2013

Q&A: John Lewis, Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation

Q&A: John Lewis, Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation

The new chief executive of Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation, John Lewis, tells Louise McEvoy about plans in the pipeline for the town, and what he considers to be the best thing about the world's first garden city

The new chief executive of Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation, John Lewis, tells Louise McEvoy about plans in the pipeline for the town, and what he considers to be the best thing about the worlds first garden city

Tell us about yourself.
I was raised in London and now live with my wife and two children in Milton Keynes. I have worked for over 26 years in the property industry for both the public and private sector.

What makes you right for the job?
I think it is my experience of working with communities, a good commercial understanding and a real interest in garden cities.

What is first on your list of priorities as chief executive?
I want to embed a culture of openness within the Foundation. I want the organisation to be more transparent, to listen, share and involve so that what we do in the future is driven by the ambitions of the people in Letchworth.

What is the best thing about your job?
To work in the worlds first garden city. Also, it is to have the opportunity to run a unique organisation that reinvests its commercial returns back into the town for the benefit of all who live, work and play here.

Parts of Letchworth town centre have had a major overhaul. What other plans are in the pipeline?
We are about to start work with North Herts District Council, Letchworth Garden City Town Centre Partnership and particularly the residents and businesses to agree future plans for the town centre. The economic downturn has delayed a number of projects, and this has given us the opportunity to ensure future projects are right.

If you could change one thing about the foundation, what would it be?
I would like the Heritage Foundation to be better known for the investment it makes in its charitable commitments to the town. Often it is seen as a property company and so a lot of the work we do to support education, recreation and healthcare, for example, is not very visible.

Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Hopefully I will still be managing the Heritage Foundation. I think it takes time to really understand any organisation, and also the place and people you are working with. So in five years time I hope I have the knowledge and experience that clearly many people have in the Heritage Foundation, and I will have been able to put this to good use.

What do you do to relax?
I find sleeping helps, and also watching my sons under 11s football team. I also walk the dog, but as he is a lively 10-month-old labradoodle I am yet to experience the de-stressing benefits of dog walking!

If you won the lottery, what would be your first purchase and why?
I would hire a live-in dog trainer! Why? See the answer to the question above!

What do you most like about Letchworth?
I most like the fact that one mans [Ebenezer Howards] ideal was able to be turned into a reality which is now home to over 33,000 people. It
is inspiring.

Describe Hertfordshire in one sentence.
A county that loves its green spaces.


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