After successfully launching the Developing Consensus manifesto after only a year in post, we sat down with Chair of Developing Consensus and Executive Director of Pegasus Group, Sandra Manson, to hear more about her first year in post and the newly refreshed vision for Developing Consensus and its members.

What progress has been made over the last year?

After taking up the role of Chair, the first act of business was hosting a workshop to bring together our members and associates from the public and private sector. It was important for us that our members had the space to step outside their day-to-day roles and look at the region as a whole. What are the barriers to growth that we’re facing? What should be our main priorities and what, within our industry, would be the key pillars that we need to lobby on.


From the workshop, we very much confirmed that our pillar groups of Planning, Enabling Development, Infrastructure and Inward Investment were still needed and we appointed members to each pillar group to set out short,medium and long term priorities to focus upon.

This has been a really constructive and positive exercise as each pillar group now has its own set paper listing its ‘asks’ and priorities that is available for all members to access. This meeting of minds and the finalised papers has formed the basis of our newly launched manifesto.

Whilst doing this, we have also found a real ground swell across both public and private sector bodies, and other organisations who align with our approach, such as the CBI, to engage and forward look. The recognition of the importance of Developing Consensus was also acknowledged with a place on the LEP Business Advisory Board – an important seat at the table to influence the emerging North East Combined Authority and its future strategies. 

Finally, the recent establishment of our Junior Chapter to encourage the next generation to have a voice within our ever-changing industry has been a significant step, and members of our junior chapter will sit in and contribute to our pillar groups going forward.

What do you want to see from the new North East Mayor?

We need to see a strong voice, an advocate for our region who can raise our profile both nationally, internationally and globally. 

We have a huge amount to offer and we need someone to shout about it. Strong leadership, honesty, a clear vision of how they see the region and recognition that success will require input and delivery from us all. 

The individual will need to be that glue between the seven authorities with different political make-ups, different issues and ambitions, but we need that to all work holistically to deliver on the Devolution Deal. 

On a more specific Developing Consensus focus, we need a clear regional plan that sets out what our economic, infrastructure and social aspirations are – that grasps that we as a region need to set our own destiny – not top down Government targets/ planning policy that can be hidden behind.  

We need to be brave/ambitious and fearless at what we can achieve. The Mayor needs to be our front and centre Champion of that ambition. 

What are your priorities as Chair over the next five years?

I am thrilled at the interest and renewed vigour that has emerged across Developing Consensus members over the last year, with membership growing, as are the networks that we engage with. That growth is important as the work we undertake is all voluntary by the members. There are no paid employees. So the adage many hands make light work is true.  So to see our membership and diversity of members grow is an important priority for me. 

In addition to this, supporting the pillar groups and our Junior Chapter to facilitate change, where needed, is also really important in my role as Chair. These groups, as far as I’m concerned, will be leading the charge – the Junior Chapter bringing forward the next ambitious generation and the pillar group’s leading on our manifesto.

I am also delighted to be able to represent our members and what we are about and will continue to do so through opportunities such as the Business Advisory Board role. This is a key priority in regard to influencing the Combined Authority and the LA7 on matters close to DC hearts, and essential to deliver economic, social and environmental change.  

To learn more about Developing Consensus or enquire about joining, click here.