Australian Councils have been recognised at the 2022 Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) Planning Excellence Awards, with the winning categories including Climate Change and Resilience, Technology and Digital Innovation, Community Wellbeing & Diversity Award and Best Local Government Team of the Year.

Western Australian Awards

City of Wanneroo

The City of Wanneroo was awarded the Best Local Government Team of the Year (Band 1) award, which recognises outstanding achievements of Western Australian local government planning teams. 

Entrants were evaluated based on the services the team provided, projects that had been undertaken, challenges faced, ability to work in challenging or complex stakeholder environments and client satisfaction.

The City’s Planning and Sustainability team was recognised for their exceptional commitment to customer service, collaboration, and good planning outcomes while navigating challenges presented by COVID-19. 

PIA Western Australia said the team had implemented improvements to the City’s local planning framework to ensure high quality planning outcomes for the community and demonstrated dedication to customer support. 

The City will now progress to the National Awards, with the winners to be announced in 2023.

City of Cockburn

The City of Cockburn was a finalist in two categories of the awards – in the Climate Change and Resilience category for its ground-breaking Climate Change Strategy 2020-2030, and in the Improving Planning Processes category as a joint finalist with Development WA for the Salt Lane residential project at Shoreline in North Coogee. 

The Climate Change Strategy 2020-2030 made the City the first local government in Western Australia to set a zero waste target, cementing its 22-year role as a leader in climate resilience and sustainability.

The strategy was shaped by over 300 participant responses as part of an extensive community-driven consultation that earned the City and its partner Town Team Movement a prestigious International Association for Public Participation core values award in October 2021.

The City’s inclusion as a finalist in the Climate Change and Resilience category highlights the strategy’s roadmap of bold aspirational targets for 2030.

The targets include corporate targets of net zero emissions and a transition to 100 per cent renewable electricity.

Other objectives include the Council working with the Cockburn community and the State Government to achieve net zero community emissions by 2050, in alignment with the Western Australian Government’s proposed emissions reduction target.

The City established a Greenhouse Action Fund in 2011 and has since financed projects worth more than $2 million, including a 1MW solar power system at Cockburn ARC.

Its Sustainability Policy enables three percent of the total project costs of all new City facilities with budgets exceeding $1 million to be set aside for Environmentally Sustainable Design initiatives.

Another recent innovative investment was the installation of a trial wave attenuation reef at C.Y. O’Connor Beach in North Coogee, in an effort to reduce the future impacts of coastal erosion in the area.

Consultation for the strategy was achieved largely online following the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, making it the City’s first paperless community engagement.

The consultation attracted one of the City’s highest ever visitation rates on its Comment on Cockburn online project page, with more than 2,000 visitors in addition to nine digital and COVID-safe face-to-face workshops.

With limited access to stakeholder groups, communication and engagement methods needed to be tailored to each audience. 

For example, Instagram was used as a primary channel for sparking interest and raising awareness among young people.

A targeted youth campaign, which included canvassing members of the City’s Children’s Reference Group and the Youth Advisory Collective, resulted in project information reaching more than 5,000 young people. 

About 40 per cent of workshops were attended by people aged under 25.

Salt Lane in North Coogee, a joint finalist in the Improving Planning Processes category, was recognised as a high-quality medium-density residential development that prevents urban sprawl by meeting a growing demand for affordable, compact homes positioned near public transport and sought-after lifestyle locations.

Beginning with a series of design workshops in 2017, Development WA and the City worked collaboratively with key project partners to investigate options for the project before starting the detailed planning and design process.

The City was a key enabler of the project’s ultimate design. It amended its Local Planning Policy to include the new Mixed Residential Typology built form, and approved a local development plan to achieve planning approvals and building permits for the unique proposal, at a time when the State had no medium density code in place.

This work has played an important role in the development of the draft Medium Density Code being developed by the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage, and is expected to be rolled out in its final form in 2023.

Project partners included the Australian Urban Design Research Centre as facilitator, the Office of the Government Architect Western Australia, and the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage along with design consultants, builders and developers.

Its unique ‘demonstration through innovation’ model has inspired the design of adjoining private sector developments at the walkable coastal village. 

The development incorporates 31 architecturally-designed sustainable terrace homes and utilises shared access streets featuring soft landscaping with a pedestrian-friendly focus that promotes slow traffic.

Salt Lane will ultimately cater for 171 homes on a 1.61ha land parcel.

New South Wales awards 

Bayside Council took home two prestigious planning awards at the 2022 Awards for Planning Excellence for New South Wales.

Bayside Mayor, Dr Christina Curry, congratulated all staff involved in New South Wales Planning Portal project, which won the Technology and Digital Innovation Award.

“Bayside’s integration with the New South Wales Planning Portal is leading the way for local government in New South Wales. Integration means that we have seamless, automated transfer of information between Council’s systems and the Portal, which improves efficiency and customer experience,” Mayor Curry said. 

“While most New South Wales Councils have had to employ additional staff to undertake manual administrative processes to work with the Planning Portal, the automation that comes with Bayside’s integration solution has allowed us to redeploy administrative resources into other areas of Council that deliver direct services to our community.”

The Council’s child-orientated community engagement around the Sir Joseph Banks Masterplan received the Stakeholder Engagement Award.

Council shares this Award with Cred Consulting and Collective Impact Arts who were engaged by Council to help deliver the community consultation.

The Award recognises the best practice public engagement and collaborative process Council undertook in planning the regional play space which is now under construction.

“The engagement for Sir Joseph Banks regional play facility was intentionally focussed on the children that the facility is being provided for. The feedback was so insightful that it allowed our designers to shape and tailor the facility in a very purposeful and meaningful way,” Mayor Curry said.

“Bayside is very grateful to the kids and families who participated in this innovative engagement. Now we know that the adventure play facility ticks the boxes of the kids who will use it, we are confident it will be a huge success.”

Victorian Awards

On 11 November, three Councils in Victoria were recognised at the Victorian Awards for Planning Excellence at the PIA Victorian Celebration of Planning Dinner at Federation Square.  

With 20 council nominations amongst over 50 submissions, judges had the difficult task of selecting the winning planning and environment projects and council employees. 

Maribyrnong City Council, in partnership with Public Realm Lab and Victoria University, took home the Community Wellbeing & Diversity Award for its innovative project Mini Maddern. 

The three-month pop-up project in central Footscray allowed children and families to build on the infrastructure provided, encouraging creativity and participatory design. 

Tree Educator in the Statutory Planning Team at Whitehorse City Council, Belinda Moody, was honoured with the prestigious Planning Champion award for her constant dedication to working with the community and developers on the management and maintenance of trees.  

A Statutory Planning Officer at East Gippsland Shire Council, Kyra Collins, won the award for Young Planner of the Year, for her voluntary participation in several improvement projects within her community and her abilities as an emerging leader. 

Additionally, two councils were given commendations under the Improving Planning Processes Category. 

Yarra Ranges Council was awarded for its Reimagining your Rebuild initiative, which provided storm impacted residents with a holistic and trauma-informed program to repair the emotional and physical damage. 

A commendation was also awarded to Casey City Council in conjunction with Lovell Chen Architects and Andrew Hogg Design for the ‘Heritage Handbook – Practical Guidelines for Owners of Historic Buildings’, which provided local owners of heritage properties with an illustrated, step-by-step tool that promotes the conservation and protection of their properties.

PIA VIC President, Gabby McMillan, said, “It’s important for us to recognise the good work of the planning profession and build up the reputation and value of planning to the public. 

“I hope that the Awards for Planning Excellence can help raise the profile of planning within the industry but also in the community, and ideally we can show the value of good strategic planning over the long-term. 

“The quality of nominations we received this year is indicative of the incredible year for planning 2022 has been. The winning projects reflect a thriving profession with an exciting and innovative future.” 


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