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"Delivering Better Development" in Australia

19 April 2016

RTPI meeting with the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA), Canberra, 19 April 2016

RTPI Past President, Richard Summers, took the opportunity to drop in on fellow planners in Canberra on his travels through Australia recently while visiting his family in Brisbane. Richard is a current member and past chairman of the RTPI International Committee and his visit to PIA in Canberra helped to extend the RTPI's international reach. 

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Brooke Yates (PIA) and Richard Summers (RTPI) at the Mount Ainslie lookout over Canberra

Richard was met by Brooke Yates, a PIA Director and strategic planner with the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Planning Department, and her colleague, Ian Wood-Bradley, an urban design consultant to ACT. They took him on a spectacular "planner's tour" of Australia's capital city starting with a bird's eye view of Canberra from the top of Mount Ainslie.

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Brooke Yates and Ian Wood-Bradley at the Mount Ainslie lookout over Canberra

Canberra was master planned by Walter Burley-Griffin in the style of the English Garden Cities in the early 1900s after Australia had became a federated nation and was looking to design its new national capital. Many features of the original plan including broad avenues, a man-made lake, extensive parkland and major groups of public buildings have been developed as first envisaged. Others have yet to be developed and a ring of satellite suburbs has been added around the central core city.

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The Griffin Plan for Canberra produced in 1918 (Image from the National Library of Australia)

Canberra is located more or less between Sydney and Melbourne as neither city would allow the other to be the capital! It is sited on the winding Molonglo river within a ring of hills and a more distant ring of mountains. Walter Burley Griffin and his wife, Marion Mahoney Griffin, an architect and artist, laid out the master plan on a geometry of octagons and triangles to fit into the limestone valley landscape and following their belief in theosophy. This no doubt worked very well before the advent of the motor car but the subsequent addition of circuitous freeways and one way systems has confused the original orientation and legibility of this beautiful capital city at least to some of its visitors. 

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View of central Canberra looking south from the scale model at the National Capital Exhibition

Later in the day, Richard spoke to a well-attended PIA ACT Division meeting about the international work of the RTPI and its recent publication "Delivering Better Development". He explained how this publication had been prepared for a non-planning audience as a sequel to "The Worldwide Value of Planning" to help persuade people of the global need for good planning and skilled professional planners.

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Richard presenting the RTPI's recent publication "Delivering Better Development"

A lively and wide-ranging discussion ensued. Richard answered various questions about the English planning system and the similarities and differences between it and the Australian system. There was also much interest in comparing RTPI and PIA and particularly their entry standards and their professional development requirements. The final question, echoing APA Past President Mitchell Silver's talks about "Falling in Love with Planning", was about encouraging a passion for planning throughout the profession.

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The Australian National Library and Lake Burley Griffin looking south from the National Capital Exhibition

PIA ACT President, Michael Jollon, and event sponsor, Rebecca Stockley for Knight Frank Planning, thanked Richard for his talk. Richard mentioned that he and current RTPI President, Phil Williams, will be attending the PIA Congress in Brisbane in May and also an "Aussie and Pommy Planners" networking event on the eve of the conference. The evening concluded with the presentation of PIA Lifetime Fellowship to Richard Johnson who then referred to his own passion for planning throughout his long and varied career in the profession. Pia Pic

Richard with Michael Jollon (PIA ACT President) and Rebecca Stockley (Event Sponsor, KnightFrank)

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New waterside development under construction in central Canberra (Kingston Foreshore)