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Jul 11, 2014

Fresh faces (from left to right): Camille, Reyne, Phala and Kelly
We’ve had quite a fresh faces join our ranks in the last couple of months to help with the expanding workload. Our Planning Team welcomes two new Planners, Camille and Kelly, whilst Reyne and Phala have joined our Design Team to provide statutory planning support.

Reyne joins us with experience working as a Town Planner for both local government and private consultancy in a statutory planning environment, most recently working for the Town of Victoria Park. His technical knowledge and experience lays in the negotiation and progression of both built form development and subdivision approvals.

Camille and Kelly have both recently graduated from a Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning at Curtin University. Kelly has already been with us for a year, working as a Planning Assistant, but has recently been appointed to Planner.

Phala also recently graduated from Curtin University, completing her Masters in Urban and Regional Planning. Phala also holds a Bachelor in Interior Design and has worked in private planning consultancy as a Planning Assistant before joining Rowe Group.

We asked the new recruits a few questions about their experiences in the industry and here is what they had to say;


What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
The most challenging part of my job so far is wrapping my head around the complex planning system and the various different planning processes and approvals that are required when dealing with various types of land, and in different locations over WA. Another challenge is ensuring my knowledge on planning policies and schemes is up to date, as they are constantly being updated and amended.

If you could change one thing about the Western Australian Planning System what would it be?
Firstly, to encourage more high rise development within and near the CBD area and in other key urban areas, and secondly, to also increase the current percentage of urban infill to make Perth more compact and vibrant rather than a sprawling, low rise city. I know there have been changes made to encourage this, but I still think we could be doing more.

Is there a person or a place that inspires you as a planner?
There is not one place that inspires me as a planner, there are a lot of places. Many different cities and towns all over the world have unique and inspiring developments that make that city or town stand out and ‘work’. It is exciting, as a planner, to acknowledge these developments and learn about why they ‘work’ and how certain characteristics, could potentially be incorporated into planning in Australia and Perth.


What is the most challenging project you’ve worked on?
A six-storey apartment complex in Victoria Park in an area with city views. It was predominantly surrounded by single storey dwellings and some three to four storey apartment complexes. The application itself was rather straight forward in terms of working through the design and statutory compliances with the Town’s Design Review Committee and the Architect. The project complied with the statutory planning framework however the challenges came with the community opposition.

The project really involved looking past the standard compliance matters and considering ways to satisfy all parties involved. In the end I believe we ended up with a good outcome that everyone was satisfied with.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
Trying to provide high-quality planning outcomes that meet the needs of everyone involved. It can be very difficult to juggle community concerns, local and state planning legislation and still provide for a functional and high-quality planning outcome. Having said that, it is also very rewarding to get a particularly challenging development or outcome across the line, and seeing that outcome implemented into the community with a positive response.

If you could change one thing about the Western Australian Planning System what would it be?
Remove statutory controls such as plot ratio and introduce more form-based controls which allow greater flexibility and look at each application on a case by case basis. Having worked in Local Government I believe as planners we can sometimes get carried away with simply whether an application complies or doesn’t comply with the relevant statutory planning controls, without looking at the bigger picture or what the development may bring to the area.


What is the most challenging project you’ve worked on?
Getting approval for a train depot situated on a freight rail line, located in one of the City’s southern suburbs. Various constraints were present, with the site having a history of pre-contamination, and the provision of entry/exit points utilised for large vehicles which joined onto a main road. In addition, two of the referral authority departments merged during the review process which meant that the application was further held up. We also had to reconfigure a few things in order to reduce the number of conditions imposed on the approval..

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
From the research I completed for my thesis, on the feasibility of rooftop and vertical farming within Perth’s urban fabric, it is easy for me to suggest that new and invigorated ideas and initiatives are not always accepted, with many barriers still existing into sustainable development. In addition, it is also a challenge to keep up with the complexities of the planning system and it sometimes appears to be more context than about achieving the best outcome.

Is there a person or a place that inspires you as a planner?
Canada to me illustrates a City that contains a plethora of forward thinking principles. It contains a multitude of sustainable design initiatives and ideas, which I find really inspiring. It is constantly aiming to reduce its impact on what remaining natural environment is left, while providing high-density, sustainable-living environments with great public transportation networks.