November 12, 2019 Written by: John Glossop

John Glossop on being a Planner (as featured in Planning News Volume 45, No. 10, November 2019)

Director of Glossop Town Planning, John Glossop, was awarded a Fellowship by the Planning Institute of Australia earlier this year. The article below was featured in the November issue of Planning News in acknowledgement of John's incredible achievement! 

It was never my childhood ambition to be a ‘town planner’. Growing up in Wollongong, I don’t ever recall being aware of the existence of town planners or what they did. I actually wanted to run a sailboard shop, but that’s a whole other story …..

When I entered the Victoria University planning program in 1990 I became an instant convert to the cause and have remained that way since. One of our firm’s branded coffee mugs says ‘we love planning’. For me (at least), that’s true.

Looking back, what I noticed as a teenager and young adult was that Wollongong in the 1980s was experiencing a revolutionary change to its identity. Macro-economic policies were causing profound structural change to its key industries: coal, steel and heavy industry. Civic leaders recognised this, and my hometown began a painful transition from an industrial town to a service based economy. That change continues to this day.

When I moved to Melbourne in the late 1980s, I was surprised to see a city that was yet to reach its full potential. Things that I took for granted (such as mid-rise apartments opposite the beach, where my Nanna’s generation downsized to in the mid-1970s), were rare. As a city, Melbourne had turned it back on the Yarra River and the city itself was quiet after hours. The Melbourne I moved to in 1988 is nothing like the City it now is. That’s a good thing.

What I have learned from being a planner is that cities, towns and regions are dynamic. Change is both necessary and inevitable. It can be frightening; it can be exciting. It is always challenging. There are many more challenges ahead of us as a profession and a species. Town planning doesn’t have all the answers to these challenges, but it can be part of the solution. To do this, we must become flexible in our thinking, forward leaning in our decision making and solution focussed in our practices. Regulatory reform is part of this response, but not the only response.
It has been my privilege to work as a town planner in such an incredible City and State for over 20 years. My sincere thanks go to PIA for this award, and a big shout out to my colleagues and clients at Glossop Town Planning for letting me be part of it.

Planning is a difficult love. It’s demanding, impatient and often hard to understand. But it’s also an incredibly rewarding profession to be part of (and probably better than running a sailboard shop).