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2022 PIA QLD State Conference


The 2022 PIA QLD State Conference was the best one yet – inspirational, challenging, and very worthwhile.

The three conference themes – Lightbulb Moments, Outside the Bubble and Breaking New Ground – were all about innovative ideas, learnings from outside SEQ and working together in periods of major change.

As part of the Day 1 speaker session, I enjoyed channeling some John Lennon and got attendees to imagine… a city with no zones. Zoning locks us into a use pattern that might have suited needs of the previous century but makes our cities inflexible to innovation. It’s a tool that the planning profession has used for a long time now, but do we continue to use it because its best practice, or simply because we’ve always done things that way. By removing zoning and assessing development applications solely on their merits, do we create places where chaos reigns or do exciting things happen when we plan for more creativity and innovation? If we focus on form and tolerances instead of land use segregation, could we create more tolerant, diverse, and flexible places? I was delighted that my session provoked so much thoughtful discussion.

Steven Burgess, Director at Complete Streets, reminded us of the impact we have as planners – literally – on people’s lives, and shone the light on the outcomes we’ll get if we prioritise cars over people in our cities and regions.

CSIRO Principal Scientist in Strategy and Foresight Stefan Hajkowicz gave a powerhouse presentation on future trends – from the future of food & waste to cyber security & AI and everything in between. Sadly, the future trends in housing include the increase in inequality and in the number of Australians getting locked out of the housing market & rental market, something he reminded us that we as planners can influence and even change.

Closing keynote speaker Andrew Winter, who you’ll know from Selling Houses and its Australian version Selling Houses Australia, spoke about how change is happening in the great Australian dream, and the best performing suburbs are the ones with housing diversity! Good news for all you YIMBY enthusiasts - thankfully, he’s not a block sizeist! Andrew agrees we need a variety of housing styles and lot sizes to fit the changing needs of the population and their preferences and lifecycle stages.

Apart from the fantastic speakers and events, it was an opportunity to catchup with those we know – including Cairns Regional Council representatives who we are working with us on the Towards 2050 Growth Strategy and hosts Mackay Regional Council who our design team collaborated with on the award-winning Mirani Community Centre project.

Another great PIA Conference, looking forward to 2023!

- Words by Natalie Rayment