Entura receives top accolades at 2023 Planning Excellence Awards Tasmania

December 4, 2023

Entura has received top accolades at the Tasmanian chapter of the Planning Institute of Australia’s 2023 Planning Excellence Awards.

The ‘Stakeholder Engagement’ category was won by Niche Planning Studio and Entura’s Environment and Planning Team, for their joint work on the Seven Mile Beach Local Area Plan. The plan was delivered for their Tasmanian client, Clarence City Council, who was also recognised for the award.

“This win is meaningful and important to the project team and to our client, as it recognises the use of an innovative community engagement method to best meet the needs of our client, and of the community,” said Entura’s Senior Environmental Planner, Bunfu Yu.

“It goes to show how collaboration and knowledge-sharing can lead to success for all parties.”

L-R: Entura’s Water Management Team Leader, Scott Lobdale, Niche Planning Studio’s Director, Nicola Smith, and Entura’s Senior Environmental Planner, Bunfu Yu.

The team took a unique approach to community engagement for the work, conducting what are known as intercept surveys. This was a method they had learnt at a previous Planning Institute of Australia conference, which they put into practice for the Seven Mile Beach Local Area Plan.

“The more general approaches to community outreach are town hall meetings, drop-in sessions, or online surveys. These methods have been used for a long time and while are still successful, there are challenges in engaging with people who may otherwise not have time to participate,” Bunfu explained.

“By contrast, the intercept surveys involved getting out and about in the community. By keeping the questions succinct and uniform, we joined people for their daily beach walk, coffee run, while waiting for their golf tee-off time or in line to pay for groceries, and this led to engagement with a much broader cross-section of the community.”

“Despite keeping the conversations short, the team were able to harness a lot of crucial themes about the community’s thoughts and concerns for the area’s long-term growth. For this particular project, we increased our reach to more than 25% of the community.”

“We are really proud of our partnership with Niche Planning Studio on these strategic planning projects for various local governments, which generally always have a vital community consultation component,” said Bunfu.  

“As consultants, we are privileged to be able to genuinely work with communities and hear their feedback, and convert the feedback into meaningful actions that our client [Clarence City Council] can consider for their next budget or their next development of strategic documents, and together plan for more sustainable and liveable communities.”

Entura was also involved in other parts of the Seven Mile Beach Local Area Plan, including terrestrial ecological surveys by our in-house senior ecologists, while the Water Management Team provided advice on stormwater and groundwater management.

“This project is important to the community to guide the growth of the beachside village, while respecting the sense of ownership and sharing in the pride of the community. The team developed a vision based on community feedback, and the local area plan provides positive and sustainable planning directions for the future of the town, with a focus on social cohesion through quality urban design and vibrant public spaces,” Bunfu said of the work.

Community consultation and engagement are integral components of strategic and statutory planning processes. The opportunity to have meaningful and participatory discussion develops and nurtures relationships and builds trust. No one size fits all, and consultation programs and methodologies should be tailored to best fit the community. As well as the strategic planning projects that Entura have partnered with Niche Planning Studio on in Tasmania, the team are also experienced in consultation for renewable energy and infrastructure projects across the country.