Media release: Local Government NSW Hosts Inaugural Planning Awards

Six councils have been recognised for leadership and innovation in planning and development at the first Local Government NSW (LGNSW) Planning Awards.
LGNSW President, Keith Rhoades said LGNSW received 23 entries for the awards presented by the Minister for Planning, the Hon Anthony Roberts MP, at a breakfast at Parliament House this morning.
“The two award categories were Excellence in Leadership; and Culture Change Innovation and Excellence, and award recipients came from metropolitan, large non-Sydney, and rural/regional councils,” Clr Rhoades said.
“Individuals and teams within Ku-ring-gai, Port Stephens, Sutherland Shire, Blayney Shire, Central Coast and Goulburn Mulwaree Councils were named winners for their innovative projects and commitment to finding meaningful solutions to planning issues.
“We thank the Department of Planning and Environment for its generous sponsorship of the awards.
“These inaugural awards showcase the enthusiasm and dedication of these planning professionals – and the support offered by management and elected representatives - to look at what they do and how they do it, so they can initiate change and improve outcomes internally and for the community.”
“Finalists have shone a light on their processes; promoted co-operation and participation; taken a ‘customer first’ approach to their planning systems; and embraced innovative ways to streamline their work.”
Clr Rhoades said our councils are firmly forward-focused and committed to delivering the highest standards of accountability and professionalism to the communities they serve.
“There is also growing recognition that the operations of modern councils extend far beyond the old outmoded ‘roads, rates and rubbish’ model,” he said.
"Council’s commitment to best practice and sustainable planning and development shown today, highlights that we have a capable sector making a real contribution to the planning sphere in NSW.”

The following winners were announced at a ceremony held at Parliament House, Sydney:

Excellence in Leadership
Division A: Outstanding individual contribution – Metropolitan Council
Andrew Watson 
Ku-ring-gai Council
Andrew began changing his community’s opposition to increased density and bringing the Council and community together to find common ground. Through strong leadership and by fostering a collaborative spirit, his council is now at 80% of its housing target of 10,000 dwellings by 2036.
Excellence in Leadership 
Division B: Outstanding individual contribution – Large Regional Council
Scott Cox 
Central Coast Council
With the amalgamation of the Wyong and Gosford Council, Scott drove change and brought people with him. He brought certainty and stability, and embraced the opportunity to transform and improve all aspects of the planning business. Scott’s focus on values & behaviours is leading to some real, positive outcomes in efficiency and staff morale.
Excellence in Leadership 
Division C: Outstanding individual contribution – Rural/Regional Council
Mark Dicker
Blayney Shire Council
Mark has played a key role in supporting best practice planning within Blayney and the wider central west region. He has led a significant number of planning projects including the Blayney Masterplan, Cemetery Mapping program and contaminated lands policy project. Mark’s leadership and collaborative style has delivered a positive planning culture and helped ensure the vision of the region is reflected in the Central West and Orana Regional Plan.
Culture Change Innovation/Excellence 
Division A: Metropolitan Council
Sutherland Shire Council
E-submissions - The Civil Objection
Access to an online publication/register of objections to development applications is a simple but innovative idea that has helped drive a community-wide culture change. It has helped remove the emotion around objections to applications and reduced handling by council staff. A side benefit is that objections have become less heated and more targeted at the real issues. This is a significant advance on previous practice that benefits customers, staff and confidence in the planning system - and has a lasting positive impact on community attitudes.
Culture Change Innovation/Excellence 
Division B: Large Regional Council
Port Stephens Council
Leading a customer centric planning culture - one team at a time
Port Stephens created an integrated approach to tackle culture, with the goal of being recognised by customers as the best council they have dealt with. Staff asked themselves ‘if this was your business would you run it this way?’ One important question they asked of staff in the planning team was why they had become planners – answer ‘to help people’. The result was a strong team culture and staff that are proud of customer feedback and improved service delivery.
Culture Change Innovation/Excellence
Division C: Rural/Regional Council
Goulburn Mulwaree Council 
Goulburn Mulwaree Employment Land Strategy
Goulburn Mulwaree has adopted a strategy to ensure the availability of employment lands for its region to drive the future economy. The strategy was embraced at all levels of council, and was a model for cross team projects and consultation. It is a good example of a council-wide, strategic approach and positive management of change, to achieve a series of goals for the future of the region.

Media Enquiries

LGNSW President, Cr Keith Rhoades AFSM: 0408 256 405
Media Lana Thrupp: 0408 831 914