UC planners Top ACT Prize Pool

Fri 11 January 2013

A University of Canberra researcher and a student took out the ACT’s top gongs at the Planning Institute of Australia 2012 Awards for Planning Excellence.

These annual awards – which are judged by peers – celebrate, recognise and reward outstanding planning and planners.

Urban planning lecturer Richard Hu received the Cutting Edge Research and Teaching Award for a national project that explores local economic development in coastal communities due to an influx of sea-change seekers.

Fourth-year urban and regional planning student Lucas Carmody received the Outstanding Student Project Award for his economic analysis on the Yass Valley.

Dr Hu’s project, entitled ’Local Economy in Australian Sea Change Communities’, has been examining how population changes have impacted local economic development since 2007.

“We have been looking at the new opportunities that arise at communities which mainly rely on primary industries for their economy, and how the communities adapt to these opportunities and to the arrival of new people,” Dr Hu said.

Traditionally, it’s been thought that only retirees move to the coastal communities, but Dr Hu’s research sheds light on the new trend of 40 and 50-year-olds, “with skills that can be of use to the community, making the sea-change.”

Dr Hu’s research also discovered that cities are losing artists and writers to the sea communities, which are benefiting from the economic growth opportunities that they bring along.

“Our findings have an important impact on policy making for coastal planning in terms of services, infrastructure and amenities,” he said.

In his final year of urban planning at the University, Mr Carmody, 21, decided to submit his research project, which had started as a University assignment, for the Outstanding Student Project Award.

Mr Carmody, who grew up in Yass, decided to look at the industry trends in his home town for the project.

“I wanted to learn which industries were slowing down, which were growing and then make some policy recommendations,” Mr Carmody said.

He found that Yass had relied on traditional industries such as farming and agriculture but there was a shift towards services like construction and administration industries.

“I put a lot of effort in the project because I was passionate about it and also curious about it, but I never expected to get an award for it,” Mr Carmody said. “It’s pretty amazing!”

As one of his lecturers, Dr Hu said Mr Carmody’s award is very meaningful given that he is part of the first generation of urban and regional planning graduating students in the ACT.

“Our university planning program is a very young initiative and it is very encouraging that our students’ work quality is being recognised,” Dr Hu said.



Author: Claudia Doman

Sourced from The University of Canberra: Monitor Online

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