RTPI President Phil Williams was recently a guest of the Planning Institute of Australia, the national body representing planning and the planning profession, and attended their annual Congress in Brisbane.
The Congress attracted over 600 delegates, including many international visitors, and Phil was able to take part in many formal and informal discussions covering areas such as planning and transport, the role of the modern planner, advances in technology and shifts in community expectations. Phil was also able to holding meetings with Brendan Nelson, President of PIA, Bryce Julyan, President of the New Zealand Planning Institute (NZPI), Mitchell Silver, the former President of the American Planning Association (APA), and Dy Currie, a Past President of the PIA and current President of the Commonwealth Association of Planners (all pictured above, left to right).
Phil Williams said:
"I was very impressed with the scale and quality of development in Brisbane and the Gold Coast. The positive influence planners were making to the urban fabric and sustainable transport agendas was evident. There was an emphasis on managed and sustainable growth to cities in Australia, primarily as a result of direct action by planners, and their influence in the political arena."
Past RTPI President, Richard Summers (pictured left, with Phil and Dy Currie), was also in Australia and helped to organise two events involving Phil: a presentation on Neighbourhood Planning to Brisbane City Council and a very popular "Aussie and Pommy Planners" networking event, which was also attended by RTPI members working in the city.
In New Zealand, Phil held further talks with Bryce Julyan and was the guest at a special question and answer event organised by Tracy Hayson, Chair of the Bay of Plenty Branch. Phil also visited Rotorua, Hamilton and Tauranga to see examples of rural planning. The New Zealand Planning Institute was established in 1949 and enjoys close ties with RTPI.
Phil Williams said:
"I enjoyed the opportunity of visiting and seeing first hand the contribution planners were making to the quality of life for communities in urban and rural environments."
"I was particularly impressed by the enthusiasm and appetite of planners to make a difference, and how key challenges of affordable housing, increased employment opportunities and creating a sustainable relationship between where people live, work and spend their leisure time was central to the planning agenda. Sharing innovative solutions and the positive benefits of the RTPI and NZPI membership were recurring themes in the discussions I had with practicing planners."