Chris Shepley was educated at Stockport Grammar School, the London School of Economics, and the University of Manchester.
He began his planning career at Manchester City Council, then moved on (in 1973) to the Greater Manchester Council, where he later became Deputy County Planning Officer. He moved to Plymouth in 1985 as City Planning Officer and later as Director of Development, in charge of planning, transport, economic development, and environmental health. He left in 1994 to become Chief Planning Inspector, and Chief Executive of the Planning Inspectorate, which deals with all planning appeals, public inquiries, and related matters throughout England and Wales. He left at the end of 2002 to become a private planning consultant. He chaired the steering group for the “Tomorrow’s Planners” project, designed to bring people from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds into planning, which he initiated. He Chaired the EiP into the Regional Spatial Strategy for the North West in 2006 and the EiP into the Further Alterations to the London Plan in 2007. He Chaired EiPs into the Island Plan for Jersey in 2010/11 and in 2013. He has been Chair of the National Retail Planning Forum.
He was President of the Royal Town Planning Institute in 1989, and was Visiting Professor at the University of Manchester from 1990-1994; he is now Visiting Professor at the University of Westminster, and he has written and spoken widely on planning issues. He writes a regular column in “The Planner”. He has an honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of the West of England. He received a CBE in 2002.
He has been Chairman of the Bath Festivals Trust, which runs the Bath International Music Festival, Literature Festival and other events. He was until recently also a member of the Theatres Trust, and has been a member of the Arts Council’s Architecture Advisory Panel. He is a member of the General Assembly of the RTPI, and was for many years on the TCPA Policy Council.
He is co-author of Grotton Revisited, published in June 2010,– a follow-up to the Grotton Papers, which he wrote with two colleagues in 1979.
He is a member of the Raynsford Planning Review Task Force and also of the Labour Party Commission on the Future of Planning.