Adelaide and the state has a proud history of urban planning and dedicated teaching must be reinstated to ensure it continues, argues Cate Hart.

It’s no accident that Adelaide consistently performs well in global rankings of liveable cities – it’s the result of town planning professionals working hard to create great communities.

Since it’s very foundation in 1836, Adelaide was the planned capital for our state in a way many other Australian cities were not. Our wide boulevards, public squares and surrounding parklands are the result of deliberate choices to create a city surrounded by large amounts of public open spaces.

This is what good planning is all about.

Planners are highly trained professionals who provide the expertise to shape great places that are sustainable, liveable and resilient.

For more than 100 years, South Australia was a leader in planning. We appointed the first State Town Planner in 1916, passed the first planning legislation in 1920, and established Australia’s first university degree in planning in 1949 (at UniSA’s predecessor, the former South Australian School of Mines and Industries).

Fast forward to today, and we need good planning more than ever. We have big issues to solve like climate change, housing affordability, infrastructure, congestion and more. Every aspect of our quality of life is connected to the urban and regional environment, and every aspect of our future relies on sound planning decisions.

Yet we are now the only Australian state without any undergraduate planning degrees because our local universities closed their programs in 2019. Is it any surprise we are now seeing a shortage of local planners?

As the professional institute for planners, we’ve been campaigning on this issue for the past four years. And we’re pleased to see that Premier Peter Malinauskas has taken up the cause as well.

In a letter to South Australia’s universities, the Premier said our state’s future would be “compromised” without more skilled planners. He wrote that “good planning and urban development is a tightrope walk between growth and liveability. But not having the skills and workforce to deliver our bold vision can seriously impact the positive outcomes sought.”

He’s right. Without a locally-based undergraduate pathway for our young aspiring planning professionals, the shortfall of skilled planners could place at risk our councils, state government and private industry from being able to sustain the development required to meet housing demands and sustainable community outcomes.

It is not good enough for universities to hide behind other degrees as an entry point for postgraduate training, or to expect South Australians to go interstate to study and then return.

Every aspect of our quality of life is connected to the urban and regional environment, and every aspect of our future relies on sound planning decisions

South Australia is on the cusp of historic opportunities to grow new knowledge- intensive jobs and ignite new industrial activities. We can also build on significant investments being made in growing our regions.

But to capture these opportunities we need good planning. And we need more trained planners who can do the planning.

Our state is already struggling to find planners to underpin good development decisions, and this will be exacerbated as regional growth in energy, space and defence projects progress.

The planning profession is all about providing expert insights based on research and data to create long-term visions for regions, places and neighbourhoods.

Good planning is a powerful tool to create the futures we want – but without good planning we are more likely to make poor decisions and deliver compromised outcomes.

We need local planners who understand the characteristics of our state and why orderly development is critical to the sustainability of our regions and suburbs.

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We need South Australia’s universities to bring back undergraduate planning programs so that we can unlock our potential and plan effectively for our state’s future. And we need it now.

Cate Hart is SA president, Planning Institute of Australia

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Planning for a liveable city

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16.05.2023

Adelaide and the state has a proud history of urban planning and dedicated teaching must be reinstated to ensure it continues, argues Cate Hart.

It’s no accident that Adelaide consistently performs well in global rankings of liveable cities – it’s the result of town planning professionals working hard to create great communities.

Since it’s very foundation in 1836, Adelaide was the planned capital for our state in a way many other Australian cities were not. Our wide boulevards, public squares and surrounding parklands are the result of deliberate choices to create a city surrounded by large amounts of public open spaces.

This is what good planning is all about.

Planners are highly trained professionals who provide the expertise to shape great places that are sustainable, liveable and resilient.

For more than 100 years, South Australia was a leader in planning. We appointed the first State Town Planner in 1916, passed the first planning legislation in 1920, and established Australia’s first university degree in planning in 1949 (at UniSA’s predecessor, the former South Australian School of Mines and Industries).

Fast forward to........

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