CAP Newsletter April 2016


Connecting planners and planning across the Commonwealth

CAP Newsletter

Welcome to a new way of updating our members on the activities of the Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP). We’ll be issuing regular newsletters to members with more frequent versions in the months leading up to Habitat III in October. This issue will focus on some of the key projects CAP is involved with around the world on behalf of our 40 000 members (if you are a member of one of our member associations – you are a member of  CAP). CAP has been extremely busy over the last year with Habitat III preparations, a key project in the Caribbean and with possible new projects to help in the implementation of the New Urban Agenda due to be adopted at Habitat III in October. The next edition of the newsletter will focus on activities within CAP member countries and potential changes to CAP executive structure to allow more information sharing and interaction by members.

What is Habitat III and why does it matter to you as a planner and as a person?

Habitat III is a major global summit on housing and sustainable development held every 20 years and due to be held this October in Quito, Ecuador between 17-20 October 2016. The formal title is the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Development. The conference will focus on the sustainable development of towns, cities  and settlements and is likely to adopt a new agenda for that sustainable development known as the New Urban Agenda which will be a new global strategy for urbanization. CAP will be represented at Habitat III by President Dyan Currie and other member groups are also likely to attend this crucial event.

The nearly 200 member governments which comprise the United Nations General Assembly, private sector and civil society are all involved along with inputs from alliances such as the World Urban Campaign (WUC), the Habitat Professionals Forum (HPF) and the General Assembly of Partners (GAP -a temporary initiative of the World Urban Campaign). CAP is a member of the WUC, HPF, GAP and has also been represented on expert panels writing the policy papers for Habitat III. President Dyan Currie has been providing input in multiple working groups for the past year and has received many strong compliments about the commitment of CAP to the working groups.  Habitat III is  of fundamental importance to our profession and more information can be found at urban-agenda/about

The Sustainable Development Goals

The 17 SDG’s and associated 169 targets were adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2015 at a Special Summit on Sustainable Development and replace the previous Millennium Development Goals. The goals include a specific reference to the importance of cities with Goal 11 – Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. The SDG’s came into effect on 1 January 2016. For more information on the goals and targets go to

The City We Need 2.0

The City We Need 2.0 is a consensus document developed by the World Urban Campaign members including the inputs from 26 Urban Thinkers Campuses held over the last 12 months. The finalised document was adopted in Prague in March 2016 and outlines a new urban paradigm. It represents the inputs of 7560 people from 113 countries and 2251 organisations representing 14 constituent groups and defines a joint vision for a better urban future. This reference document can now be used by all dealing with housing and sustainable urban development issues. More information including urban solutions and access to the new WUC TV channel is available at The WUC is now working on the implementation phase for TCWN 2.0 and other initiatives ahead of Habitat III. The WUC website provides many useful tips on how to be involved in this campaign and CAP is proud to be a lead partner of the WUC.

Citiscope (one of the lead WUC media partners) provides excellent update articles at

Strengthening Professional Planning Capacity to Advance a Caribbean Urban Agenda

The Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP) is leading a 2-year project entitled “Strengthening Professional Planning Capacity to Advance a Caribbean Urban Agenda”. The project (funded by UN-Habitat) is being implemented by the Caribbean Network for Urban & Land Management (CNULM) based at the University of the West Indies (UWI), in its capacity as secretariat to the Caribbean Planners Association (CPA).

To date, the project has resulted in the establishment of    two new national associations: The Planning Association of Dominica, and the St. Lucia Institute of Land Use Planners; helped planners from previously under-represented countries participate in the Caribbean Urban Forum in St. Lucia in May 2015 and supported the participation of 103 planners in four webinars events.

The 2016 Caribbean Urban Forum is being held from 27-30 April.

 For more information

Planning for Rapid Urbanisation – A new CAP project supported by HRH The Prince of Wales

One of the biggest challenges facing the Commonwealth is the rapid rate of urbanisation. Combined with a time of climate change and natural resource depletion the need to develop efficient and implementable urban framework plans has never been more urgent. The scale of the challenge is vast, with 2.5 to 3 billion people projected to move into towns and cities by 2050. The benefits  of having implementable urban framework plans will be to create places that can engender wellbeing, safety, prosperity – and guarantee the supply of water, food and energy to efficient and compact walkable communities.

To help address this challenge CAP is working on a new project with the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community, the Commonwealth Association of Architects and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum. The aim of the project, which will be carried out over the next 1-2 years, is to develop a practical online toolkit to help provide planners, local government officials, landowners and communities with the resources they need to plan for rapid urbanisation. It is proposed that the toolkit will be launched by HRH The Prince of Wales to support implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Urban Agenda. At this early stage, it is thought that the online toolkit will provide practical steps to develop resilient urban extensions or new towns and cities, based on universal principles and local variances.

For over 40 years CAP has promoted planning around the world. It has influenced the way people and governments think about planning. CAP captures the very essence of planning with its strong sense of purpose in ensuring planning plays an essential role, a strong sense of identity across the Commonwealth and a strong ethos of working together.

In addition most of its activities are carried out by volunteers from professional planning institutes around the world. Together these institutes have a combined membership of over 40,000 people.

For more information


Contact us

CAP is a charity registered in Scotland SC 034482

CAP YP Webinar Series: 101 things about planning you didn’t learn at university- Recorded Session


If you missed the above webinar or want to listen again please click below:

The link to the recording of Session 1 (Thursday 4 February at 12noon Brisbane for Aus, NZ, Asia and North America):

The recording for session #2 (Friday 5 February at 9am London for Europe, Asia and Africa): .

Thanks to Robin for Presenting and to Amanda for Hosting the Asia, America and Pacific version of  the session.

Kind Regards



CAP YP Webinar Series: 101 things about planning you didn’t learn at university


Dear Friends, you are invited to join us for the second CAP YP Webinar, which is part of the CAP Webinar Series.

Note there are two dates for this webinar, with Robin kindly doing two live versions to help cover the whole of the Commonwealth.
1. Aus, NZ, Asia and North America webinar at 12noon (Brisbane GMT +10 ) on Thursday 4 February ;
2. Europe, Asia and Africa webinar at 9am (London GMT) on Friday 5 February

Featured Presentation By:

Robin King-Cullen LFPIA CPP – author of “Mastering the Art of Planning – 100 Stories from Urban Planning Practice”.
Prior to establishing her own consultancy business in 2004, Robin had nearly 30 years’ experience in local government across rural, regional and metropolitan Councils in Australia including 11 years at Department Head level. Her experience covers rural and urban town planning (both statutory and strategic); public policy development; community consultation and dispute resolution; and governance. After selling The Planning Academy in early 2014 Robin has concentrated on sharing her own (and others’) workplace experiences in planning practice with planning students and early-career professionals. Her current business, “Planning Secrets” , records the real-life stories of experienced town planners about lessons they learned from town planning practice – what they were doing, what happened, what they learnt and what advice they would give young planners as a result.

The presentation focusses on the tricky bits of planning you don’t learn about at university; the joys and perils of being a planner and how to stay focused on planning principles in the face of the political, community and process pressures experienced in planning practice. Presentation content draws on the wisdom of scores of seasoned planning professionals who generously shared their early career learnings in “Mastering the Art of Planning – 100 Stories from Urban Planning Practice” for the benefit of those who follow in their footsteps. Robin will also share one more piece of wisdom that is not included in her book.

For more information, visit the CAP Young Planners Blog website at:

Registration: Please email Viral Desai at to register for the event. Please let me the date and time you plan on attending. We hope you can make it!

Kind Regards,
Viral Desai (CAP YP Co-ordinator)

This Commonwealth Association of Planners Webinar Series event is brought to you by the Caribbean Planners Association with the support of the Caribbean Network for Urban and Land Management “blueSpace” and UN-Habitat.

COP 21

By Viral Desai.


Simply…. This could be the deal we need to help us save the planet.

There is not much more to add to this Blog Post but share your ideas, practice and ensure that the deal that was struck this weekend is not just lip service to the single biggest issue that threatens mankind… Climate Change.

Be innovative, look at your locality and sense that you can make a difference and you can make the transition to a low carbon environment.

Make sure your markets understand the value of green technology and ensure that they deliver the wind turbines, the solar panels and good efficient technology to deliver a better world for ourselves and future generations to come.

Teach our young people, our young planners, the value of living in a sustainable environment, but also it is up to us to deliver this better greener world.

Historic Day in Paris… Lets keep the momentum and make the world a cleaner, greener world!

Globe with turbines.jpg

Share your views and ideas on COP21! Send them to and will post them here at the CAP YP Blog.


Addressing the Oxymoron of Healthy Communities

Author: Christina Sgro


Christina Sgro MCIP RPP is a planner and lawyer based in Toronto, Canada. In addition to her work in program development and education, her practice spans a number of different areas, including community development, law, health promotion and sustainability, and technology.  

On behalf CAP YP…Thanks to Christina for another great article!! 🙂
The sedentary drive-to and drive-through culture of North America has become an undeniable reality, particularly in Canada and the United States. No doubt we are striving to make our lives easier but we certainly aren’t helping to make them longer. Turning the tide in the face of backwards planning methods that dominated for far too long – that is, putting health on the back-end of community planning instead of smack dab in the core – we now feel the wind of change; a mighty gale indeed. From Ontario’s active design policies and California’s smart living mandates, to the visionary Plan Cincinnati, the health-centered planning approach is no longer the tired rhetoric on loop, the wild afterthought, or mere “bonus” planning, but a must for city planners, engineers, and designers far and wide.

Residents in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, have witnessed this calculated shift in recent years. The partnership between the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Ontario Professional Planners Institute was a key first step. This was highlighted by the 2009 release of Planning by Design: A Healthy Communities Handbook, the tenants of which municipalities across the province are continually working to integrate into their policy frameworks. The Handbook was aimed at fully understanding and appreciating the impact of planning and design on lifestyle and health, both physical and mental. This in itself represented a huge foray into territory that historically had been largely ignored.

Take the 19 recommendations outlined in a report released by the Middlesex Health Unit in London, the province’s fifth biggest city. In a bid to encourage more residents to use leg power over gas power, the Unit proposed a series of ideas on how to make the community more user-friendly for walkers, cyclists, and rollerblading enthusiasts. The Healthy City/Active London report, first released in 2012, positioned activities like walking and cycling, not as leisure activities, but as components of an active lifestyle so crucial to a community’s health, economy, and environmental stability, that other alternatives soon began to pale in comparison. Building on that momentum, a number of recent additions have been made to the City’s Official Plan, including barrier-free and aesthetically pleasing urban design linkages such as trails, sidewalks and bike lanes that would be provided and maintained between residential, commercial, employment, industrial, institutional, and open spaces, as part of London’s transportation system.

Similar initiatives are igniting policy changes across the border, as the U.S. navigates similarly choppy waters. San Diego was one of the first cities to up the ante, lobbying the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act (known by its more common moniker, Senate Bill 375). With SB 375, each of California’s metropolitan planning organizations, of which there are 18, was responsible for establishing greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for 2020 and 2035. Each region would also prepare a sustainable communities strategy. The strategies would demonstrate how those set targets could be reached through integrated land use, housing, and transportation planning.

The San Diego Association of Governments, the first California region to implement SB 375 and prepare a sustainable communities strategy, proved to be a true trailblazer. Even in the midst of significant fiscal and political constraints, the region provided an SCS and an updated regional transportation plan. Los Angeles and Sacramento followed suit. Studies around what the public saw as high priorities in active transportation revealed surprising results. One study conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Move LA, and the American Lung Association, found that not only did voters consider expanding public transit over roads and highways, but when asked about their preferences, voters chose walkable mixed-use communities over conventional car-oriented residential neighbourhoods. They also urged further investment in public transportation, streamlined planning and design, and better safety precautions for pedestrians and cyclists. As a result, some progressive mandates have emerged, including a bigger emphasis on multifamily and attached, small-lot, single-family housing. Future growth in open spaces and away from city cores has been cut significantly. Despite a slow uptake, the projected results look positive. If the preliminary number crunching is any indication, the long-range transportation plan should result in a 6.9 percent decline in congested vehicle travel for each resident, increases in public transit use, biking, or walking by 32.8 percent, and a reduction of per capita passenger vehicle travel by 8.8 percent.

The pioneering Plan Cincinnati represents a revolutionary approach “focused on an unapologetic drive to create and sustain a thriving inclusive urban community, where engaged people and memorable places are paramount…” Plan Cincinnati was the result of a three-year process incorporating the viewpoints of 52 neighbourhoods. To allow for the evidence of an optimistic estimation of unprecedented growth, the Plan is being given a ten-year head start before it is re-evaluated. Both Plan Cincinnati and Healthy City/Active London have distributed responsibility fairly, resting it squarely on both the City and the development community, in promoting active and sustainable transportation as the preferred means of travel within the community, creating spaces that echo the cause, and calling on residents to embrace a new, more active travel mode.

Here in Canada, progress continues. In response to a growing restlessness amid avid cyclists wary of wading into Toronto’s endless gridlock, the City has developed a number of initiatives. Toronto’s Green Standard, a two-tier set of performance measures and guidelines related to sustainable site and building design for new development projects, represents a unique approach to sustainability. The Standard includes both mandatory checklists and incentives for going beyond the minimum requirements, and has been applied to a number of projects in each of Toronto’s boroughs. The City is also working towards a more careful consideration of pedestrians. The PATH underground walkway system in Toronto’s downtown core is a popular pedestrian linkage to public transit, accommodating hundreds of thousands of daily commuters. Pedestrian countdown signals are no longer anomalies, nor are longer walk times for signalized crossings, or zebra crossing pavement patterns marking our city streets.

The health-first approach to planning and design continues to be a hot button theme in both Canada and the United States. Symposiums on “talking the talk and walking the walk” in Ontario have garnered much attention. The province’s Transit-Supportive Guidelines continue their call for a new course of action; for instance, the need for built-up areas to better incorporate public transit into community planning by transitioning high-volume arterials into more transit-supportive corridors. District-level plans have also been proposed, which would provide detailed place-specific policies to guide transit-supportive development. These would include secondary plans and corridor studies, and would help to achieve the province’s vision for guiding the development of transit nodes, corridors, or specialized uses. Other ways the Guidelines continue to be implemented moving forward? Enacting zoning by-laws that support transit-supportive land use and using site plan control to evaluate how development applications can address the above issues and/or contribute to transit-supportive environments.

According to the Guidelines, those primary components that make up a successful Official Plan include having target areas for intensification that are focused on major elements of the rapid transit network (central area, mixed-use centres, main streets, and town centres); having arterial main streets that host denser developments to support transit service; promoting intensification for lands within 600 metres of existing or future rapid transit stations and lands that are no longer viable or potentially developable, like older industrial areas or forgotten transportation corridors; monitoring and reporting annually on the pattern and amount of residential and non-residential intensification; and creating a series of new transit-oriented guidelines for all development within 600 metres of a rapid transit stop or station. The approach is laudable and, more importantly, logical. The evolution of such a multi-layered method will be interesting to observe.

The ‘00s have ushered in a shift towards a more sustainable and health-centered approach to planning. This movement has gained a following, though our work is far from over. As our city centres continue to grow and our population numbers soar, the intersection of sustainability, health, and planning will play an even larger role in the design framework. Opportunities to integrate community health in the built environment are aplenty, ripe for the picking every day. Carpe diem.

CAP YP Webinar ‘Planning for our children’s, children, children’- Thoughts

On Thursday, we had our first CAP YP Webinar. It went superbly with over 20 people listening in and 50 people across the Commonwealth registered, some who expressed interest to listen after the session. Thanks to CAP for organising the logistics for this event, especially to Michel and Christian for hosting us.

The presentation was given by Pam Ewen who has been in charge of the Strategic Development Planning Authority for the Dundee and Perth City Region in Scotland which put together the TAYplan, which begun in 2009.  Within 3 years TAYplan won the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) overall UK award for Excellence in Planning, the Silver Jubilee Cup. Pam is Convenor of RTPI in Scotland during 2015.

’Planning for our children’s, children’s, children’ set out the importance of involving young people and how they can shape the future of their places. The presentation explored the different ways in which TAYplan has engaged with young people and the success this has had. The presentation intended to share good practice and to stimulate discussion with young planners across the Commonwealth and other areas of good practice.

Pam highlighted some the different techniques that were used for both Primary and Secondary school children. One of my favourite points was not actually using the word ‘planning’- I think by getting children to think strategically about the place that surrounds them, the issues they encounter and what they want to see in the future. By not reflecting the negative connotation that older people associate with planning I think this has allowed TAYplan to engage children effectively in not only thinking about future development but to show them what a career in planning could actually be about.

This is further reflected in the ‘Placemakers’ scheme which I think is what we need to do more of across the UK, but across the Commonwealth too, to promote the profession to young people who are looking to impact social, environmental and economic issues that we tackle as Town Planners. This allows them to see from a young age, before University, the importance a profession like ours has on all areas of society. For me, we need to shout more loudly about what we do as planners and what we achieve. It is arguably the only way we can keep ensuring polices across all levels of government that as humans we need to deliver sustainable development and sustainable growth in all facets of life.

The Youth Camp’s reflect great practice. By getting children from different backgrounds, to discuss issues, but also using the Placemakers to encourage their peers to shape place reflects what is required to improve participation from this very underrepresented group in the planning process. The Youth Camp’s for me reflect good practice in getting people to input into the planning process. Pam did highlight issues that myself I have encountered- getting the initial contacts and footholds in the community to make this effective. It is clear that TAYplan have done this effectively and this is something we need to learn from.

I think Pam’s conclusions on what a difference engagement has made need to be repeated:

  • Young people’s views directly influenced the content of the Main Issues Report, for example health and active travel.
  • Schools, youth groups, individuals, community groups are now better informed and continue to be engaged with TAYplan and Tactran in helping to shape how their places could change.
  • TAYplan’s profile has been further enhanced through events and media resulting in further engagement such as the association of geography teachers event.
  • Overall, this project demonstrated positive results for the future of our region, shaped by those who live, invest and study

For me the key issue of health that was identified by the children involved was very interesting. This is a very current area of planning here in the UK, which needs to be developed further in relation to Public Health and Planning. I think if children are thinking about this issue, it illustrates the importance of consulting this group. It gives further justification for policy makers and decision makers to ensure that they are including young people in development planning consultation processes.

In terms of further techniques, using technology to involve children is a great way to make consultation fun but also for them to become more engaged. The use of Minecraft by TAYplan aimed to build capacity amongst young people to enable them to become active citizens. By aiming to  show children the art of drawing but also by helping them to develop these ideas into 3D models, I think it gives children the opportunity to show their vision and make them feel useful in the development process.

The final, and for me the most important part of what we need to develop, is to make planning a part of the education curriculum. Pam mentioned this in relation to the work she was doing with primary school children. By linking to geography projects, history projects or design and technology projects I believe that not only would children become more engaged with planning and development, but will also help us promote this important profession to future young planners.

Thanks to Pam and TAYplan for sharing their ideas and practice with CAP. You can listen to the webinar (Webinar 5) and others at

If you have any further comments, ideas or things that other planners could learn from please post below and let’s get discussing and making young people a focal point of the Planning process.

Post by Viral Desai

Free Webinar- CAP Webinar Series: ‘Planning for our children’s, children, children’

Dear friend, you are invited to join us for the CAP Webinar Series.

Date: Thursday, September 3, 2015 from 4 to 5 PM GMT, 10-11 AM Belize, 12-1 PM Toronto, 7-8 PM Nairobi

Featured Presentation By:
Since TAYplan’s inception in 2009 Pam Ewen has been in charge of the Strategic Development Planning Authority for the Dundee and Perth City Region in Scotland.  Within 3 years TAYplan won the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) overall UK award for Excellence in Planning, the Silver Jubilee Cup. Pam is Convenor of RTPI in Scotland during 2015. Before moving to TAYplan she worked for 9 years as a planning manager with Fife Council leading strategic planning, economic policy, research and information, and the development of the 7 large strategic developments areas across Fife.  After graduating in the early 1990’s from Strathclyde University she commenced her career in Local Government in Ayr before moving to Central Region and then Clackmannanshire working across development management, project implementation and development planning.  Pam has a degree in Town Planning and an MBA.  She is a member of the RTPI, member of Heads of Planning Scotland Executive and is a Board member of the Scottish Cities Knowledge Centre. Pam is moving to Fife Council in late September to head up planning.

The presentation ’Planning for our children’s, children’s, children’ will set out the importance of involving young people in how they can shape the future of their places. Pam will explore the different ways in which TAYplan has engaged with young people and the success this has had. The presentation is intended to share good practice and to stimulate some discussion with young planners across the Commonwealth and other areas of good practice.

For more information, visit the CAP Young Planners Blog website at:

Registration:  Please email Viral Desai at  to register for the event.  We hope you can make it!

Best Regards.
This Commonwealth Association of Planners Webinar Series event is brought to you by the Caribbean Planners Association with the support of the Caribbean Network for Urban and Land Management “blueSpace” and UN-Habitat.

Developing Links with New Zealand Young Planners

We are delighted that links are now developing with our colleagues across the globe. New Zealand YP are a very active group and are strongly supporting the development of our Network and hopefully we can move forward to share, practice and ideas with this great planning nation! 🙂

The New Zealand YP have a great blog, please take a look, comment and share your ideas.

Below is the article currently on the New Zealand YP blog:

The Commonwealth Association of Planners


The Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP) seeks to focus and develop the skills of urban and regional planners across the Commonwealth to meet the challenges of urbanisation and the sustainable development of human settlements.

CAP has links with its members, with other professional associations, and with non-governmental organisations involved in the struggle to improve human settlements, to alleviate poverty and to move towards sustainable development. CAP welcomes opportunities to participate in activities which bring together planners and communities and /or other professionals.

The NZPI is currently forging ties with CAP, and Bryce Julian, Chair of NZPI Board, is currently sitting on the CAP Executive Panel as Vice-President for Australasia-Pacific. Emma Howie, National Young Planners Representative, is currently looking to strengthen the relationship of New Zealand Young Planners Group with the CAP Young Planners Group.

The CAP Young Planners Group has been set up under CAP and is focused on creating a network of young planners across the commonwealth to share, build and discuss fresh ideas. The CAP Young Planners Group is looking to arrange webinars targeted at the interests of Young Planners in the Commonwealth, and all young planner members of the NZPI will be given access to these webinars for free. These will be run in conjunction with the recently launched 2015 CAP webinar series – check out the CAP Website for updates on the next webinar.

For more info on the CAP Young Planners Group, check out the following links:

CAP Young Planners WebsiteFacebookBlogTwitter/@CAPYoungPlan 

YP Congress Report – 2015 Urban Legends – 14 April 2015, Auckland

The Auckland Young Planners Committee is pleased to report that this year’s Young Planners Congress, held on 14 April at Auckland’s Viaduct Events Centre; was a roaring success. With over 170 delegates, the 2015 Congress was the largest gathering of young planners in the NZPI’s history. A stellar line-up of speakers ensured that everybody went home with their minds provoked.

ABOVE: ScribbleAKL icebreaker at the YP Social Event, 13 April 2015

The festivities began with the social evening on 13 April held at Ponsonby’s Little Easy pub. About 70 young planners turned up on a bitterly cold evening to eat, drink, socialise and participate in the planning-themed icebreakers organised by ScribbleAKL. The evening’s fun and folly was generously sponsored by Eighty4 recruitment.

ABOVE: The audience watching on at YP Congress, 14 April 2015

The Congress theme of ‘Urban Legends’ was intended as an allusion to mythbusting, to narratives, and to our speakers themselves. On each of these facets, each speaker delivered in spades. Ngarimu Blair opened the day with fascinating insights into local history, and offered his views on Maori participation in planning today. Julie-Anne Genter reflected on her personal journey from planning into politics, and on the interdependency that exists between planning and politics. Nat Cheshire discussed the improvisational ethos he has brought to urban renewal in the Auckland CBD. Nick Williamson put forward the case for planners taking on the role of story¬teller in public participation processes. Rounding out the local contingent, the panel discussion on housing (between David Clelland, Amelia Lindsay, Martin Udale and Phil McDermott) covered significant ground on the relationship between urban form, regulation, infrastructure, and housing affordability.

ABOVE: Charles Montgomery speaks at YP Congress, 14 April 2015

The two international speakers complemented the locals with fresh perspectives from overseas. Charles Montgomery, the Canadian author of Happy City drew fascinating links between urban form, social cohesion and human happiness; convincingly making the case that planning and urbanism have a direct effect on our emotional well-being. Melbourne’s Lucinda Hartley finished the day with a discussion on tactical urbanism as a means of inclusively achieving quick-wins in place-making. To apply the theory first-hand, delegates were sent outside to get creative with place-making. Within a half-hour, members of the public were playing with our contraptions of chalk and wool.

ABOVE: YPs engaging in tactical urbanism with Lucinda Hartley, 14 April 2015

The 2015 YP Congress could not have happened without the generosity of our sponsors, so a big thank-you to Harrison Grierson, Beca, Eighty4 Recruitment, Auckland Council, MWH, Woods, Thomas Civil & Environmental Consultants and the University of Auckland. It also would not be possible without the herculean efforts of our 16-strong organising committee, and the help of Jason Grieving and Gurv Singh.

Thank you all, and we look forward to seeing everyone in Dunedin next year for what will be an equally fantastic YP Congress in 2016.

Big Thank you to the NZ Young Planners for this article… Please keep visiting there blog

Reflections 2015 Planning Congress (Austraila)

The past few days has been EPIC! I’ve been at my first National Planning Conference & I’m exhausted; physically and mentally! Back to back sessions, consecutive late nights & study tours have made for an incredible experience in Melbourne; apparently Australia’s most liveable city…

As I sit on the plane, I’m thinking about the moments and experiences from this Congress that will remain with me & inspire me when I return to the real world of planning for the City of the Gold Coast.

As expected, the highlight of the week was Mitchell Silver – New York Parks Commissioner. Mitch is inspirational planner who instilled so many take home messages – here are a few;

1. Demographics – planning for the different generations (they all have unique needs and wants) & understanding the population statistics of your City is super important! Gens X,Y and Z collect experiences.

2. Ethics – planning is driven by ethical decisions. It is our role as planners to make judgement calls based on ethics and fairness.

3. Problems of 21st century (climate change, aging infrastructure, household sizes, greying population etc) don’t have solutions yet – by choosing status quo or saying no to change, you are saying yes to current trajectory. Is that what is best for the city?

I also enjoyed hearing from Rob Adams, chief planner at City of Melbourne. Rob delivered the Keeble Lecture in Brisbane last year, & has a real knack of simplifying the outcomes sought for cities.Rob has been in the role for many years and has led the transformation of Melbourne. He said;

1. Great places are great streets. Streets need to work harder & we need to make decisions on what each street will cater for – pedestrians, public transport, traffic, services, dining, art, parking, entertainment. Repurposing of our streets and public spaces to promote more efficient use & increased activity.

2. Land use activity surrounding public spaces and streets needs to encourage lingering & meetings. People are social beings. Active frontages are a must on all streets; if not kiss of death!

3. 7 to 8 storey buildings are perfect scale within a city. Achieve desirable densities and of human scale. Barcelona is most dence city in world – yet predominantly mid rise buildings.

4. Sustainability: Street trees – beautifulication + cooling of city. Stormwater harvesting – trapping, storing & reuse of stormwater within inner city.

Andrew Dixon, Sarah (Urbis), Cheong Koon Hean & Jane Munro were also stand outs. Some key ideas were;

1. Innovation – open space is no longer an add on; it is a land use which essential to urban communities & becomes a differentiator/ competitive advantage of developments. Should not be designed as a tack-on!

2. Learn how to walk in other stakeholder’s shoes. Developers are not the enemy & neither is community. Communication & understanding motivations is key.

3. Leave space for artists. Many many rules are redundant & planners should never say “because that’s how it’s always been done”. Don’t be afraid to test/consider alternatives & experiment.

Overall, the message was to innovate & challenge the norm!

Can’t wait for Brisbane in 2016!

Thanks to Nicole Wills, please follow her blog at