Geoff Payne

Housing and urban development consultant focusing on developing countries


I was born in January 1942 in Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset, UK. I studied architecture at Nottingham and qualified in 1968 but found urban planning research more interesting and went into that as a career. After a spell working at the Salvation Army International headquarters designing a new national meeting hall, community centre and commercial unit in Oxford Circus, central London, I obtained a Commonwealth Universities Scholarship to do research on squatter housing in India and that set the pattern for the next fifty years. En route to India in 1970,I was invited by the British Institute of Persian Studies in Teheran to act as the architect on an archaeological excavation of a Median temple and fortress complex in western Iran which is the world’s oldest – and intact – fire temple. I was invited back the following year to contribute to the excavations of the first capital city of the Parthians in the Great Salt Desert.

In India, I spent a year doing research on squatter housing settlements in Delhi and other cities and it was here that I received my real education and met my wife Rita, who is from Assam and at the time was a newsreader and disc jockey with All India Radio. Rita and I were married in Assam in November, 1971. On returning to the UK, I was awarded funds by the Social Science Research Foundation to extend and write up the research and this led to a book on urban housing in the Third World. Later research projects followed in Turkey and other countries, which were complemented by periods of consultancy and training. I have also lectured in UK and other universities. During the last fifty years, I have been lucky to have opportunities to work throughout the world on housing, land and urban development issues.

I live with my wife Rita in Ealing, west London, where I established Geoffrey Payne & Associates in 1995. In addition to work, I am a keen glider pilot and have competed in regional and national competitions, plus participating in expeditions to Germany, France, Macedonia and South Africa. I have been an instructor for over 30 years.

Rita retired in 2009 as Asia Editor for BBC World television where she had worked for 29 years. She was elected International President of the Commonwealth Journalists Association and remains Chair of the UK Branch. Rita organises meetings on a variety of issues, such as India-Pakistan relations, the impact of the World Cup on South Africa’s development, India’s foreign policy and the impact of cuts to the budget of the BBC World Service. She is also the Editorial Director of GLOBAL magazine.

Our daughter Tania was born in 1975 and left her post in marketing and promotions for Fuji Cameras UK in late 2008 to travel around the world. She spent five months in Africa, four in Asia and short periods in Australia, New Zealand and the USA and then seven months in Mexico where she established a business teaching English to fund further travels in South America before returning home. During her travels, Tania has worked briefly for NGOs working on housing issues for the urban poor. On her return to the UK she worked as a client care manager at the Leica Camera Company until December 2013, when she decided to leave and take a course on teaching English as a foreign language for business people. She is now an independent teacher, writer and photographer and has an extensive portfolio of photographs recording her travels and some of these are available online. Tania and her husband Vijay who kindly redesigned the GPA website and sons Nico and Mika share our house in London enabling us to enjoy their company and Vijay’s brilliant cooking!