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NSW Department of Planning and Environment
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Meet chief planner Gary White

  • Date: 18.07.2016
  • Type: Featured Article
  • Author: Department of Planning and Environment

Photo of Gary WhiteOur Chief Planner Gary White admits his career path could have been a lot different if his family hadn’t migrated to Australia in 1972.


Up until then, Gary had spent the first 19 years of his life in Kenya where his father worked for the Kenyan Government.


“I actually wanted to be a game warden but then I realised if I wanted to play a role in environmental issues, I needed a career that would allow me to do this,” said Gary.

“So I studied planning at the University of Queensland and landed my first job as a Nuisance Inspector, or as it’s known today, a Compliance Officer at Redland Shire Council.”


Planning role

As Chief Planner for the Department, Gary is responsible for overseeing projects that will deliver an easier and more efficient planning system as well as providing expert advice on projects that will help our communities in the long term.


With almost 40 years planning experience, Gary has held some of the most senior planning positions both in NSW and Queensland. This includes City Planner for Ipswich City Council, Deputy Director-General for Queensland’s Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning and later as the Department’s first Government Planner, as well as roles within the private sector participating in all aspects of the National Planning Agenda.


“I’ve never doubted my enthusiasm for great planning. My favourite mythical theme aligned to my planning thinking is the phoenix, a creature which despite changes and challenges can keep reinventing itself.”


Gary’s enthusiasm has been at the fore of his career, including one of his proudest achievements was working for Redland Shire Council. In 1989, Gary was instrumental in helping to preserve prime land at Point Halloran Conversation Area. As the council’s town planner, he had the foresight to see the area would be better used for environmental purposes rather than a proposed development.


Today, it is a thriving spot for koalas and native species.


Planning challenges

As our Chief Planner, Gary is well aware of the need for growing metropolitan cities such as Sydney to be prepared for the future.



Sydney is Australia’s global city that is being driven by economic, social and environmental structural changes.

- Gary White, Chief Planner

“The planning challenge is to coordinate and manage growth in a way that continues to offer attractive living choices for individuals and families, not only in Sydney but across the State.”

“Change is happening regardless so we need to act now on the opportunities that growth is bringing to our city by leading the way with best practices and encouraging excellent design.”