SESSION THEME | Vision of Planning


Or Are We Losing Our Minds?!

Wednesday 1 April,  

We've all had those frustrating times when we feel like our planning voice is not being heard. No matter how many times you ask, the planner is still called for at the last minute to "save the day".  We need to apply our training, experience, and vision to make sure our voices are heard through in the valuable work we do.

We also need to protect the value of the profession, and make sure planners are not consigned to the annals of history as glorified administrators or copy-and-paste specialists, replaced by artificial intelligence and tick-box software.  It is not good enough to just be a collator of information, to avoid forming opinions, or to "hide behind" technical experts.

You might be thinking to yourself - "I'm not one of those planners" - but we are probably all guilty of it from time to time.  A further information request for engineering matters outside the scope of the consent, conditions which are not directly related to an environmental effect or are ultra vires, applications which quote assessment criteria at great length without actually doing any assessment.

Too often, we fail to apply our planning "filter" to the information in front of us, asking ourselves the key questions "is this relevant?".  Planners need to be able to absorb technical information and expert evidence, consider it and evaluate it, and make a call.  This is what we are trained to do - but it seems to get beaten out of us somewhere in the grind of day-to-day priorities.

We don't pretend to have all the solutions - but with all the smart people gathered here we hope to engage the audience in this discussion.  The future of our profession depends on us challenging these issues.  We need to re-discover our voices and our minds, and place value on what we do.


Presenters:  Simon Banks, Steph Brown & Andrea Harris

Team Leader - Planning and Engagement, WSP

Simon leads the WSP planning team based in Tauranga, working on a wide range of projects across the Bay of Plenty and upper North Island.  Simon has over a decade of planning experience in New Zealand and the UK, working in both the private and public sectors.  From 2006 to 2008 he was the Young Planner Representative on the NZPI National Council, and he is currently the secretary of the NZPI Bay of Plenty Branch.

Technical Principal - Planning and Environment, WSP

Steph is a Technical Principal for WSP based in Christchurch and has had a diverse career in environmental management, initially in science and now as an environmental planner.  She has over 20 years' experience, predominately in delivering infrastructure projects for local communities.  She is passionate about using collaborative approaches as a way of achieving improved environmental outcome

Planning Manager / Technical Principal - Planning, WSP

Andrea is a Technical Principal and Planning Manager for WSP in Palmerston North.  She is on the Central North Island Branch committee and is a Member of the NZPI Board.  Andrea has over 25 years' experience in planning, working with local authorities, government departments, utility operators, iwi, stakeholders and the community.  Andrea specialises in policy analysis and development and is currently working on a variety of plan changes.  


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