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VPA's new CEO Stuart Moseley discusses his new role

Last month the Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) appointed Stuart Moseley as its new CEO just prior to the introduction of the Victorian Planning Authority Act 2017 on 1 July, which reinforces the VPA's role as the state’s key strategic and place-based planning authority.

The VPA is a Victorian Government statutory authority that reports to the Minister for Planning and whose main objective is to ensure Melbourne and Victoria’s regions "remain great places to live."

Mr Moseley is a registered planner and PIA Fellow with 30 years of experience in planning, urban management and project delivery, including as chief executive of the City of Adelaide. Before joining the VPA, Mr Moseley worked as the Deputy Director General (Planning Group) for the Queensland Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, and has previously worked in consulting and in the New South Wales and South Australia governments.

Urban Melbourne asked Mr Moseley to provide a bit of insight into his new role as CEO of the VPA and to discuss some of the work the authority does and challenges they face.

The Arden Urban Renewal Precinct is just one of many VPA projects. Image: VPA

Urban Melbourne: Are you able to provide some insight into your role as CEO of VPA? What are some of the outcomes you're hoping to achieve?

Stuart Moseley: At the VPA our job is to unlock growth of state-significant areas, precincts and sites on Melbourne’s expanding urban fringe, in Melbourne’s existing suburbs and in our regional cities and towns.

As CEO it is my role to lead a talented team of planners, engineers, mapping specialists and demographers to ensure we plan for the growth of Victoria over the next 30 years.

As planners we must be adept at casting our minds well into the future to anticipate the infrastructure, housing, employment and other needs of our population. We often create plans that will guide particular areas’ growth and investment for many years to come – having an indelible print on Victoria’s fabric – so it is important we consult widely and get the planning right.

We take a broad, birds-eye view of our state and plan strategically. Local councils also play an essential role in planning for change in their municipality, but as a state authority we take a Victoria-wide approach to planning. I am hoping to strengthen the VPA’s relationships with various stakeholders, to achieve effective planning outcomes for Victorians.

UM: The VPA works closely with a number of stakeholders from developers to local community groups in addition to other government bodies such as Development Victoria. Can you discuss the difference in roles and responsibilities between the VPA and Development Victoria as I think a lot of people have a difficult time keeping up with the various government bodies which focus on planning and development particularly with the numerous restructures over the last 5 years.

SM: I understand there are a lot of government authorities to keep track of! The primary difference between us and Development Victoria is that we are a planner, while Development Victoria is a developer.

We undertake planning and rezoning, for precincts comprising either public or private land, while Development Victoria develops publicly owned land and delivers projects on that land.

The VPA is primarily focused on land use planning for areas undergoing significant change. It is our job to ensure these areas have appropriate infrastructure, planning zones and regulations to succeed. For example, in our growth areas we are often responsible for rezoning land from farming to urban uses, which leads to the creation of new integrated communities. Our priority is to make sure these new areas will be great places to live.

Therefore, our precinct structure plans include land use overlays that reserve land for particular uses – whether that be a new school, a future train station or a park. We collaborate closely with an extensive range of stakeholders – such as education providers, facility providers and VicRoads – to guarantee positive outcomes for the future community.

UM: And further to the above what is the relationship between the VPA and the Minister for Planning's office?

SM: The VPA reports to the Minister for Planning, undertaking planning projects according to the Minister’s priorities.

The Minister has a Department that advises him on high-level strategies (like Plan Melbourne and the regional growth plans), on planning legislation, on the operation of the planning system and the setting of state planning policies. Our job is to give effect to all of these requirements by delivering plans for particular areas and sites.

UM: How does the VPA approach these large scale urban infill projects to achieve the best outcomes for the sites while balancing the needs and desires of the community and other local stakeholders with government policy?

SM: One of our most publicised planning projects is for major urban renewal at Arden. Arden is a future jobs hub in North Melbourne based around a new Metro station that will become an extension of the central city, being a base for 34,000 jobs and 15,000 residents.

Last year the Minister for Planning launched our draft framework plan for Arden, and invited members of the community/stakeholders to have input into this plan. We also held several engagement forums with community members and business owners – standard practice across all of our plans. We are now in the process of finalising the framework plan and will incorporate some of the suggestions raised by community members.

Balancing the needs of various stakeholders and community members is no easy feat, but we pride ourselves on our open door policy and the fact we engage very widely when creating plans. Planners must be strong negotiators, have an ability to adapt plans where necessary and be willing to sit down with a wide range of groups. We pride ourselves on doing just that to ensure we create places that people want to live and enjoy.

UM: And lastly, what do you see as some the greatest challenges facing Greater Melbourne at the moment and how do you see the VPA's role in addressing these?

SM: One of Greater Melbourne’s biggest challenges involves planning for the unprecedented scale and pace of population growth. The VPA plays a key role by ensuring our new neighbourhoods (be they on the urban fringe, in renewal areas or in our regional cities and towns) provide for new jobs, housing and open spaces and coordinating the infrastructure and services needed to support them.

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