Former Government Architect to lead Urban Taskforce

5 October 2011

The former NSW Government Architect, Chris Johnson, will take over as chief executive of the Urban Taskforce.

The Taskforces chairman, Noel Hemmings QC, said that Mr Johnson's appointment signifies a move by the Taskforce to position the development industry in the broader context of the community.


"Chris Johnson is a highly respected person in the development industry, the design professions, within government and the broader community, Mr Hemmings said.


The Urban Taskforce is very pleased that Chris Johnson will be joining our organisation as CEO and looks forward to a repositioning of the development industry as important contributors to Australia's economic future."


The Taskforces Secretary/Treasurer, David Tanevski, said that Mr Johnsons experience places him in an excellent position to provide leadership in urban development.


Chris served as the NSW Government Architect for 10 years and subsequently became Executive Director in the NSW Department of Planning, Mr Tanevski said.


As a former member of the Central Sydney Planning Committee, Chris has firsthand experience with the zoning and approval issues that our community needs to address.


Mr Johnson has written or edited 14 books on urban planning and architecture and for the last three years has run his own consultancy working for many private sector clients.


Mr Johnson said that he was very pleased to accept the appointment as chief executive.


"This is an exciting challenge, Chris Johnson said.


"The development industry, in NSW in particular, has had a difficult image problem mainly related to donations to political parties.


Now that this has been resolved in NSW we need to position development as an important part of the community.


After all, it includes bricklayers, carpenters, painters, the local bank manager, the superannuation funds, the finance industry, building material companies, architects and planners as well as developers and builders.


"I am also keen to change the simplistic debate on density, from being either for or against, to an understanding that there are a range of at least a dozen types of density and each has a place in the city of the future.


The richness of our multi-cultural and diverse society should be represented by a similar diversity of the built form of our cities."


Mr Johnson will commence his new role as chief executive on October 24.


Noel Hemmings acknowledged the work of the outgoing CEO, Aaron Gadiel, who, after four years of service, is joining the legal firm, Gadens.


"Aaron Gadiel has been a strong advocate for the development industry and has made sure that our voice was heard."


Mr Johnson said the most important challenge was to get confidence back into the development industry.


"While rewriting the planning act is important, we can't wait for this to rescue the industry, he said.


We need targeted, immediate actions to help the industry regain confidence so that NSW really can become number one again."


The Urban Taskforce is a property development industry group, representing Australias most prominent property developers and equity financiers.

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