Playle & Partners LLP

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Playle & Partners LLP's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Playle & Partners LLP is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Highlighting best practice
Managing Partner John Farrow
The Textile Building –
Aitch Group
Playle & Partners LLP is a multidisciplinary property
construction consultancy based in Sidcup. Established in
1954, the practice originally started out as a chartered
quantity surveyors and now offers extended services including
architecture, building surveying, contract management, party
wall advice, access consultancy, principal designer and CDM
consultancy and expert witness, providing an all-encompassing
service across a range of projects. Managing Partner John
Farrow tells
The Parliamentary Review
more about the scope of
their projects and Playle & Partners LLP’s manner of operating.
A balancing act
As construction and property consultants, we recognise that every project depends
upon a delicate set of balances, that is, understanding and meeting our client’s
aims while maintaining accurate and tight cost controls. It also means reacting to
the needs of the moment, but still being able to stand back and provide proactive
advice that’s both impartial and genuinely innovative. Also crucial to this effort is the
management of relationships with the client team, architects, other consultants and
contractors while encouraging a drive for continuous improvement. Last and not least,
it’s necessary to balance the needs of today while being alert to futuresustainability.
Managing these balances, though, needs experience, which is why every project
is led by a partner who provides a consistent point of contact, and is personally
responsible for the successful completion of the client’s work. In this environment,
all our teams are expected to deliver high-quality solutions effectively and efficiently.
»Managing Partner: John Farrow
»Partners: Paul Turner, Jon
Badcock, Claire Kennedy and
Luke Turner
»Established in 1954
»Based in Sidcup, with offices
in Ipswich and Redhill
»Services: Construction and
property consultants
»No. of employees: 35
Playle & Partners LLP
We are trusted to bring service,
experience and added value to every
construction project that we are
involved with.
Nurturing talent
As an SME providing multidisciplinary
property construction consultancy
services, we have to compete with
large-scale multinational companies for
talent. This is a real challenge, one that
many SMEs face. Striving especially
hard to be successful is necessary if
they are to gain the competitive edge.
In this spirit, our team has had to come
up with innovative ways of attracting
and retaining the best people, which
we continue to do through offering
a number of tailor-made training and
development programmes.
We also encourage young talent at
school-leaving age by attending careers
fairs and providing STEM ambassador
services. The practice targeted
universities and attended 12 fairs in
2017. In addition to attracting new
talent, we have continued to invest in
the employees that we already have.
Our team does a fantastic job at
recruiting and retaining high-calibre
staff. It is difficult to offer the types of
training and development programmes
that we do, so we have to remain
vigilant of our budgets and ensure the
correct balance between work, studying
and mentoring availability. Ultimately
testifying to this are our employees,
whom we have recruited from a variety
of backgrounds, as well as our raising
of prospects for young local people
through work experience, permanent
positions and by covering the cost of
formal qualification. The success of this
is reflected in our high staff retention
rate and reported satisfaction levels.
In 2018 our commitment to staff
development and talent has been
widely recognised, to which the
following list provides testament:
»We achieved an Investors in People
Gold Accreditation
»We were winners at the
Constructing Excellence South East
& London – People Development
Award, in addition to being a finalist
in the Best SME category
»Bexley Business Excellence Awards,
in which we were shortlisted for
two awards, Best SME and Business
Commitment to Education & Skills
Our Investors in People Gold
Accreditation was achieved following our
first assessment, contrary to the usual
pattern of gaining it only after having
achieved either accreditation or silver. Marcus Garvey Library
– London Borough of
All our teams
are expected to
deliver high-
quality solutions
effectively and
efficiently. We
are trusted to
bring service,
experience and
added value to
project that we
are involved
Highlighting best practice
The executive summary stated:
Playle & Partners has a strong
track record in “growing their
own”, with a huge investment in
degrees, professional qualifications,
chartered membership and
ongoing continuous professional
development (CPD). Most of the
partners, associates and senior
staff have been developed by the
business and this commitment
continues with work experience,
placements, internships and degree
apprenticeships. All staff take part
in the school, college and university
careers fairs and milkrounds.
[The] partners have devolved
leadership responsibilities and all
staff have grown their roles and
take accountability for the success
of the business.
[They are] clearly a values-driven
business focusing on service
delivery. Staff clearly live these
values and enjoy working as part
of the one-team culture.
A word for political ears
We are on a number of public sector
frameworks for professional services.
As a practice of our size, this – as with
recruitment – means competing with
large multinational companies, often
with significantly higher budgets at their
disposal. Additionally, where services
are tendered on an “open basis”, we
are up against smaller practices with
significantly lower overheads, and
in a lot of cases without the same
level of accreditations, management
systems (including quality management
systems to ISO 9001:2015) and level of
professional indemnity insurance.
The government’s target for small and
medium-size companies is for them to
win 33 per cent of public work by 2022,
albeit last year this figure was 22.5 per
cent, compared with 24 per cent in
2014. SMEs such as Playle & Partners can
provide good value for money compared
with the multinationals, as well as an
exceptionally professional service.
Compliance with OJEU regulations must
be client-driven, and detailed feedback
is required for tenders we submit, but
this is not always the case. Furthermore,
a number of public sector clients are
circumventing the regulations. SMEs
need to be supported in this respect to
ensure that the government targets are
achieved together with best value.
A values-driven future
We have been through the second-
generation transition in terms of
partners, and are preparing for yet
another third-generation transition. Our
future growth and sustainability starts
with the recruitment of good-quality
staff, and to this end we expend a great
deal of time and effort in their training.
We cannot entirely shape the future
within which we will operate, but
what we can control is our strong
commitment to the following values:
»Respect for others in all of their work
and dealings within the industry
»Openness, honesty and fairness
when making important decisions on
behalf of a client
»Reviewing any work and learning
lessons from all experiences
»Being proactive in the approach to
our services.
Playle &
Partners can
provide good
value for
with the
as well as an
Oasis Arena Academy
– London Borough of

This article was sponsored by Playle & Partners LLP. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy