Kelly Romero

Kelly has been at Be First for nearly two years and has had a very varied career working in different sectors. Over the past six years she has worked as an Executive Assistant supporting Senior Managers. Her current role as Office Manager focuses on supporting projects to keep the office running to a high standard.

Darren Mackin

Darren has worked at Barking and Dagenham for just over a year, having spent the rest of his career working in roles across housing, strategy and planning for local and central government. In his current role he is the lead for the council for commissioning and working with Be First to ensure their ambitious development programme both drives and supports the delivery of our inclusive growth strategy.

Hannah Lock

Hannah joined Be First in 2019 as Executive Assistant to Managing Director, Pat Hayes and she works on a selection of business development projects. Previously she has worked across a broad range of sectors including retail, property, finance and media where she has provided executive support and event management services.

Darren Rodwell

Darren became the Leader of Barking & Dagenham Council in 2014. Since then, he has established the borough as one of the most important growth opportunities in London and both he and the Council have won numerous awards, including LGC Council of the Year for 2018 and the LGIU Leader of the Year Award

Since 2016, Darren has served on the London Councils Executive – first as the Executive Member for City Development and now as the Executive Member for Housing and Planning. In his current role he has prioritised the delivery of truly affordable housing in the capital, fire safety, reducing homelessness and reducing the use of temporary accommodation.

Darren is also a member of the Homes for Londoners Board, Arts Council England, the Arts Council for London and the Create London Board and with effect of 1st September 2019 has been appointed as the Vice Chair on the Environment, Economy, Housing and Transport Board.

Pat Hayes

Pat Hayes was appointed Managing Director of Be First in August 2017. Previously he was Executive Director of Regeneration & Housing with Ealing Council during which time the borough became one of the most successful in London at attracting new developments and transforming public housing stock. Pat was responsible for bringing forward the Southall Wayerside development with the Berkeley Group, South Acton Estate with Countryside Properties and the delivery of Ealing Film Works with St George. He oversaw the evolution of the council’s housing company Broadway Living as a major build to rent developer.

Before joining Ealing, Pat worked for Transport for London as Director of Borough Partnerships and prior to that, spent four years at Lewisham Council as Executive Director for Regeneration and Environment. Pat has worked for five other boroughs during a twenty five year career in local government.

Deborah Aplin

Deborah has worked at a senior level in property development for the past 30 years, specialising in brownfield urban mixed use and mixed tenure schemes.  The majority of her career was spent with the Berkeley Group, particularly St George, where she progressed to become Land and Planning Director.  Deborah is currently Managing Director of Mayfield Market Towns Ltd, promoting a new market town in Sussex. She is a Non-Executive Director of the Methodist Housing Association, a member of the CITB think tank on construction industry training and skills, and a Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.

Edward Skeates

While at Grosvenor Group, Edward Skeates focussed on place-making; sourcing and securing projects. He worked on Liverpool One, one of the UK’s largest city centre regeneration projects, value approximately £1bn. Edward also worked on several high-profile projects for Cambridge Horizons, Wilson Bowden and Boots.

Caroline Harper

Caroline joined Be First from JLL where she worked successfully with both private and public-sector clients, with a strong focus on residential-led development in east and south London. She recently coordinated the submission of the largest full planning application ever – for Metropolitan’s Clapham Park estate regeneration in Lambeth. She also has extensive compulsory purchase, appeal and public inquiry experience.

Caroline manages Be First’s planning and development control teams while providing planning support to our growing development arm.