As one of the graduate planners at Collie, I recently attended a series of four planning master classes for young professionals hosted by the Victorian Planning and Environmental Law Association (VPELA).

The classes covered a range of planning topics designed to provide young professionals with an insight into various planning related issues.

These topics included:

  • decision making in planning;
  • how to present at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT);.
  • urban design;
  • noise attenuation;
  • planning feasibility.

Some of my key observations were:

  • when presenting at VCAT adopt a conversational tone and explain rather than try to persuade;
  • always answer a question whilst looking at the VCAT member, regardless of who asked the question;
  • urban design is about encouraging people to use and engage with public spaces rather than simply passing through them;
  • public seating is one of the most effective ways of encouraging people to utilise public spaces;
  • unlike land use planning, ‘existing use rights’ do not apply to noise attenuation with conflicting land uses between commercial and residential development often requiring complex considerations;
  • when determining employment generation rates per square metre of retail space, the following can be used as a general guide:
    • Small shop – 1 employee per 25 square metres.
    • Average size retail – 1 employer per 30 square metres.
    • Larger shop (Department Store / Bulky Goods) – 1 employee per 70 square metres.

For planners who have recently qualified, the classes are a useful additional exposure to perspectives within our industry.

Given the successful response to these master classes, VPELA intends to host them again next year. I highly recommend them to young planners.

Enquiries: James Million jjm@colliepl.com.au