Leicester Urban Observatory

Remembering John Dean: 1st November 2018

On the 1st November 2018 around 200 people attended the latest City Series Lecture, given by Sir Peter Soulsby, City Mayor of Leicester and former RTPI President Martin Bradshaw, to remember and commemorate the life and work of John Dean.

All six at the Memorial lecture

Right to left: Peter Wilkinson, (FRTPI), John Acres (MRTPI), current President of the Royal Town Planning Institute, Alwyne Dean, City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby (Hon MRTPI), Martin Bradshaw, former Past President of RTPI, and Grant Butterworth, Head of Planning Leicester City Council

John was City Planning Officer for Leicester for over 22 years and was a past President of the Royal Town Planning Institute- his personal contributions to the City and the profession were immense.

The Lectures followed a moving Memorial Service held at Leicester Cathedral for family, friends and former colleagues earlier in the day, following John’s passing in August this year.

Reflections on 70 Years of Planning: Martin Bradshaw

Martin B

John was due to give a major talk to give his take on 70 Years of Planning since the introduction of the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act- Martin Bradshaw (ex- Civic Trust Director and former RTPI President) kindly agreed to step in and reflect on the life of John and his own recollections and observations on a career in planning which gave a powerful and unique reflection of two substantive contributions to planning.

Martin was a close friend and former colleague of John’s- his stories of work experiences and fascinating anecdotes- from Leicester to Cheshire, and Harold Wilson MP to John Selwyn Gummer MP- were very much appreciated and enjoyed by the audience.

Planning today is very different from the times of John and Martin, but it was clear that the energy, intellect and application of Martin and John could so easily address and overcome many of the challenges and tests we face, and there is much to be learnt from them.

Reflections on John Dean’s Contribution to Leicester: Sir Peter Soulsby, City Mayor

Sir Peter then gave a heartfelt tribute to the very significant contribution John made to the development of Leicester since the 1970’s, recognising that no-one individual had done more to shape the City throughout the period John worked.

From recognising the importance of neighbourhood renewal, and challenging indiscriminate clearance- through to protecting and enhancing the natural and historic assets of the city, John led his teams to the great benefit of the whole City.  The legacies of fighting Centre 21 and transforming the City ‘s retail core through regeneration which went with the grain of the place, such as St Martin’s and The Shires, was a crucial foundation for the vibrancy and success of the city today. This successes is being further enhanced by the City Mayor’s Connecting Leicester, tourism, transport and regeneration programmes.

Natural assets delivered in the 70’s, such as Watermead Country Park and Aylestone Meadows compliment the ongoing transformation of the Waterside Regeneration area today.

John’s innovation and leadership in planning for the cultural diversity of the city was also widely recognised and praised by many former colleagues who had returned to the City for the service and talks.

Please see Sir Peter’s presentation here: John Dean final and for a documented collection of memories and reflections of John’s career, please click here:  JD

Honorary Member

A further highlight was the attendance of John Acres, current President of the Royal Town Planning Institute, who took the opportunity to present Sir Peter Soulsby with Honorary Membership of the Institute in recognition of his contribution to planning in Leicester.

Sir Peter and John Acres

John was delighted to hear of the proposed award:

“An excellent idea re. Sir Peter. He would be a perfect recipient for an award like that. And it would show real flair on the part of the Institute!”

…and we think John would have enjoyed the day.

Eco Town
Photo courtesy Leicester Mercury


Sincere thanks go to Alwyne Dean and family; 

to Sir Peter Soulsby, Martin Bradshaw and John Acres for their contributions;

and to Peter Wilkinson, Justin Webber and Annie Provan for the organisation of the event.

In addition, thanks to all those who attended and shared reminiscences and memories which made the day feel so special, and a worthy tribute to John.