Michael West obituary

Other lives: Architect and planner who co-ordinated the policies of London boroughs and worked in private practice

My colleague and friend Michael West, who has died aged 80, had a long and distinguished career in architecture and planning. After early years in private practice, in 1970 he was appointed director of the Central London Planning Conference, which co-ordinated planning throughout the central London boroughs, and in 1975 became borough planner of Southwark.

He commuted by train daily from Ipswich, Suffolk, to Liverpool Street, and from there charged south to his office on Peckham Road on a folding bicycle, dressed in a long leather overcoat and a sailor’s cap in the winter, with plastic bags over his shoes when it was particularly wet.

In 1981 he returned to private practice with Twigg Brown & Partners, and founded the Twigg Brown West planning consultancy, which in 1992 became West & Partners. A founding member in 1988 of the Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects, Michael was elected as its master for 2001-02.

He was born in Liverpool, to Catherine (nee Robson) and William West; the family soon afterwards moved to Surbiton, south-west London, and Michael was educated at Tiffin boys’ grammar school in Kingston upon Thames. He was proud to call himself a Liverpudlian, and returned to study architecture and subsequently to undertake a master’s in town planning, at Liverpool University.

He then took up appointments in private practice with Eric Lyons, Shankland Cox & Partners and Sir Hugh Wilson, before a period at the Greater London council and Westminster city council.

He met and married Shirley Loades in 1969 and they set up home in Coddenham, Suffolk. The first year of their marriage was spent in Bermuda, where Michael was deputy director of planning. Their daughter, Catherine, was born in 1972 and their son, Simon, in 1974. In Coddenham Michael served as chair of the parish council, was an active member of the country club and regularly attended St Mary’s church. He designed the new village hall that opened in 2004.

Michael’s great love of classic cars began when his father helped him purchase a 1927 Rolls-Royce, and he later owned an AC Ace and two Alvises. His children remember fondly the annual outings in the Rolls-Royce for the Ipswich to Felixstowe vintage car rally.

He shared a birthday with Prince William and for each of the prince’s first 21 years undertook a meticulous small drawing depicting a specific example of classic architectural design, which he had framed and sent to Kensington Palace.

Michael was an admirer of the writings of CS Lewis and Clive James, and an occasional collector of political cartoons. He remained creative and in recent years enjoyed pottery painting with his grandchildren.

Shirley died earlier this year. Michael is survived by Catherine and Simon, and by a granddaughter, Rachel, and grandson, Samuel.

Chris Francis

The GuardianTramp

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