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NSW Chief Planner Gary White has taken out the top gong at the annual Planning Institute of Australia NSW awards for planning excellence. 

A champion on modern urban design, Mr White was named Planner of the Year at a ceremony at Cockle Bay in Sydney on Wednesday night. 

“This award is a great honour - I’m really thrilled to be recognised in this way,” Mr White said. 

Carolyn McNally, Secretary of the Department of Planning and Environment, congratulated Mr White. 

“We’re very proud that Gary has been honoured with this prestigious award, and after almost 40 years planning experience he couldn’t be more well-deserving,” Ms McNally said. 

Brendan Nelson, Deputy Secretary, Growth, Design and Programs, said Mr White’s win was a reflection of his passion and years of dedication to the planning industry. 

“He is an inspirational leader whose genuine enthusiasm for the job never wavers despite the challenges to manage growth in a way that continues to offer attractive living choices for individuals and families across the state,” Mr Nelson said. 

“NSW is fortunate to have Gary helping to drive the future planning direction for our great state.” 

Raised in Kenya until he was 19, Mr White didn’t plan on becoming a planner – he wanted to be a game warden. 

“I realised if I wanted to play a role in environmental issues, I needed a career that would allow me to do this,” Mr White said. 

“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.” 

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

Mr White 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. 

The Department was also recognised with the Improving Planning Processes & Practices award for its ground-breaking work on the Wind Energy Guidelines, which promote sustainability for NSW. 

The Innovation in Development Assessment Award was sponsored by the Department. It was awarded to Randwick Council for its work on Online Lodgement of Development Applications, while a commendation went to Bayside Council for its Workload Management Tool. 

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