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4 Learnings from PIA ‘Tips for Success in Local Government Planning’ Panel

4 Learnings from PIA ‘Tips for Success in Local Government Planning’ Panel

over 2 years ago By Emma Murphy
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Last week the PSP team sponsored a ‘Tips for Success in Local Government Planning’ hosted by the Planning Institute of Australia. A panel of experts from Local Government represented a breadth of planning experience, statutory, strategic, enforcement, regional and metro. While there, we learnt how to get the most out of your Local Government career and how to appreciate your role in the council. 

These are our four key takeaways...


Focus on the big picture

Planning can be challenging, as a planner you face so many different pressures, externally from the community, internally from the organization, not to mention time pressures, etc. It’s important to take a step back and remember why you do what you do. Try not to get lost in the process and remember planners are the key to the community to achieving their dreams! 

A really good tip from Amanda Cuxson (Statutory Planning Coordinator, Investigations and Projects at Nillumbik Shire Council) - was to go out and view some of the applications you have approved in the area as it might look different in real life. It may have made sense at the time and on paper but when you see it in reality, it might not. Or on the other hand, it may look awesome and it will remind you of the impact one of your decisions can have.


Understand the organisation

There are so many different elements within planning for you to get involved in, that was reflective in the breadth of experience in the panel alone. There are many avenues you can take your career and you don’t need to feel ‘stuck’ in one area or in one organization. 

Get involved in process improvements, take the opportunity to learn and grow your skillset when given the chance. Learn from those around you, don’t be afraid to ask questions and use the senior team members to tap into their knowledge and experience.

A tip from Natasha Swan (Manager of City Planning – City of Monash) - Integrate with other departments in the organization. You’ll find you get a lot more achieved and in a shorter time frame when you take the time to understand the people around you and what their drivers are. When you are waiting for another team to come back on something, walk across and ask in person, instead of sending an email. You also have the opportunity to learn from other disciplines this way, too.


Applicants are people too!

The planning scheme can be tricky to navigate for planners, let alone for people who are not qualified, imagine how they feel trying to understand the legislation and how to interpret it. Planners have a tendency for being too technical at times, perhaps it’s time to bring it back to basics for the customer. Be open and honest with applicants and you will quickly form relationships and build rapport with the community. Breakdown the barriers between applicants and yourself by empathising with them.

A great tip from John Ciavarella (Manager of Statutory Planning – City of Ballarat) - Do not tell the applicant how they CAN’T do something, instead show them how they CAN!


Power of Planning

Planners are the frontline troops, delivering the community's hopes and dreams. Every small decision you make leads to an accumulative change. 

The smallest application can make a difference to the community or even one street. Chad Griffiths spoke about ‘death by a thousand cuts’ and how each minor planning decision could lead to the eventual death of an area – so think of that in reverse, each minor decision can change a place for the better. Try not to get disheartened if you find yourself doing 20 sheds and remember the possible impact. 

A great tip from Chad Griffiths (Principal Strategic Planner – Brimbank City Council) - “Don’t underestimate the power of your influence.”

(Side note, my director said if Chad was running for a political party he would vote for him, this will give you an idea of how empowering this sentiment was!)

We left the event with a broader understanding and respect for the planning profession and are excited to support more planners on their journey to success within Local Government. 

If you are interested in exploring opportunities in Local Government, connect with Emma here for a confidential chat.  

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