John Best is a consultant working in the fields of urban development and management, and on the edge of local government. After a period as a professional musician, he trained as a town planner and surveyor and spent 24 years working in local government in London on regeneration and housing renewal before moving to Milton Keynes, the largest and most successful of the UK’s new towns. For 12 years he oversaw the city’s development, first as Environment Director and then for five years as Chief Executive of the unitary authority, responsible for the governance and trajectory of the place and the delivery of a wide range of local services. During his time as CEO, he oversaw the improvement of the council from weak delivery to three star, helped in part by a strategic partnership with a private sector partner.

At the beginning of 2008, he left local government and set up John Best Re.Generation Limited, engaged in helping places work out what they’re good at and how they might become even more successful. His portfolio now includes advising developers, local authorities and design organisations internationally on making and managing successful places, bringing innovation and good practice in a wide range of activities. In particular, in his role as director of Virtual Viewing Limited, he is exploring ways whereby cities can make full use of their digital and virtual environment through innovative use of realistic virtual 3D models.

He can be reached at

Questions and Answers

What’s the most valuable lesson you have learned, and who do you have to thank for it?
That all is potentially for the good and most problems are sent to help us learn.  Not a universal law, but one which works for the easiest 90% of stuff.

If you could talk to your younger self, what advice would you give them?
Take a long view: keep an eye on the future but don`t assume that if something doesn`t happen right away it ain`t going to happen.  Something good will.

What is the single thing you still most need to learn?
That I can wait for things to come to me: I don`t have to chase all the time.

What do you hope your legacy will be?
That people look back and thank me for living and thinking at least partly in the future.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve ever discovered about yourself?
That some (though by no means all) people like me, enjoy my company and believe I`m a good listener.

 What one thing do you think every organisation would most benefit from doing, or doing differently?
Doing some deep thinking about the future and taking specific action as a result.

What is your worst habit?