The 2017 National Awards for Planning Excellence, presented by the Planning Institute of Australia at a ceremony in Sydney on 3 May 2017, awarded people and projects from around Australia for outstanding achievements in planning.
Three of the award categories celebrate best practice in planning processes. The Hard Won Victory Award recognizes a planning initiative, effort or leadership that has resulting in positive planning outcomes in the face of difficult or trying circumstances. The Improving Planning Processes and Practices Award recognizes the achievements of planners, planning authorities and development entities in translating good planning policy into improved processes and practices in the workplace and ‘on the ground’. And the Public Engagement & Community Planning Award recognizes initiatives in best practice public engagement that achieves an outstanding and innovative contribution to social planning practice and outcomes.
Improving Planning Processes and Practices
Award: Implementing Bushfire and Biodiversity Controls (WA)
Project team: Shire of Mundaring Planning and Environment Team
Jury comment: Development challenges emerged as landowners and the Shire of Mundaring struggled to reconcile mitigating bushfire risks whilst preserving and protecting the Shire’s high biodiversity values. To address this, the Shire has created a suite of implementation tools and services that encourages the early consideration of both bushfire and environmental factors in the design and development process before there has been significant investment by the landowner.
By examining the site-specific risks and avoiding generalisations, the Shire of Mundaring has simplified the process for landowners.
As a result, this approach is improving development, environmental and land management outcomes and contributing to a positive planning culture in the Shire.
Furthermore, this approach can be easily transferred to other local authorities thereby making the process simpler for landowners, streamlining the approval process and reducing costly delays. As the risk of bushfires increases across Australia with higher summer temperatures, this initiative is timely and innovative.
Commendation: Gold Coast Flora & Fauna Database (Qld)
Project team: City of Gold Coast
The Hard Won Victory
Award: Planning for Future Flood Risks: Marks Point and Belmont South Local Adaptation Plan (NSW)
Project team: Lake Macquarie City Council
Jury comment: Against a backdrop of scepticism, a defiant press and little confidence in its policies, this Council brought together a community through engagement and openness.
The story of how Lake Macquarie City Council developed their first sea level rise adaptation plan starts with conflict between the community and Council, and culminates in a collaboration to produce a plan supported by the community and Council. Concerns about increases in insurance premiums, reductions in property values, disbelief about climate change and anger that Council wanted to make decisions based on something that “might happen” a long time in the future, made it difficult to engage people. Council did not dismiss concerns out of hand. Instead of prescribing the process that would be followed to develop the first sea level rise adaption plan, Council invited the community to co-design the process. This helped transform community opposition into collaboration.
Through collaborative effort, the science of climate change, the prospect of sea level rises and future flood risk are to be managed locally through implementation of this bold adaptation plan. A truly hard won consensus.
Commendation: Connecting Greater Bendigo: Integrated Transport and Land Use Strategy (Vic)
Project team: City of Greater Bendigo
Public Engagement & Community Planning
Award: Camping with Custodians – Imintji Community (WA)
Project team: Tourism Western Australia and Imintji Aboriginal Community
Jury comment: This is a significant initiative, which provides a unique opportunity for visitors to regional Western Australia to stay at an Indigenous owned and operated tourist accommodation, whilst providing sustainable economic and social benefits to the local community. Tourism WA together with the Imintji Aboriginal Community, through the Camping with Custodians Project, has provided a model development, which demonstrates how public engagement and community planning can deliver a tourist outcome, whilst providing an ongoing source of income and employment for members of the community.
The immersion of the project team with the local community was integral to its ultimate success. It provided Tourism WA with a greater understanding of the existing community knowledge and aspirations whilst actively involving the Imintji Community members through the stages of land assembly, planning, approvals and development. The Camping with Custodians Project has enabled the Imintji Aboriginal Community to develop a capacity to manage their land and resources as part of a network of community enterprises and to use it as a platform upon which to develop further value adding activities.
Commendation: City Road Master Plan (Vic)
Project team: City of Melbourne
Commendation: Ginninderry (ACT)
Project team: Land Development Agency and Riverview Developments