After 8 years as the CEO of the Urban Taskforce Chris Johnson will leave the role at the end of 2019 with a handover to Tom Forest as the next CEO.


“Chris Johnson has been an inspirational leader of the Urban Taskforce over the last 8 years.” says Urban Taskforce Chair Peter Daly. “Chris has repositioned the Taskforce as a leader in presenting visions for the growth of cities like Sydney. He has run campaigns on the swing to apartment living, on the integration of transport infrastructure with future growth and on the need to simplify the NSW planning system. He has developed a strong media profile on behalf of our development industry that has often upset NIMBY groups but his strong messaging has always been about the reality of accommodating future generations in a sustainable and affordable manner.”


“Our incoming CEO, Tom Forrest has a long experience with government and politics in New South Wales having been a Chief of Staff to a Premier and a number of NSW Ministers. He was also an Executive General Manager of Rail Corp and Director of Infrastructure and Strategy within the Department of Premier and Cabinet and over more recent years he has run his own planning and strategy advisory business.” says Urban Taskforce Chair Peter Daly. “We welcome Tom to the CEO role with the Taskforce. Tom will join us later in November with an overlap role with Chris Johnson until the end of the year.”


“I have thoroughly enjoyed my role at the Urban Taskforce.” said CEO Chris Johnson. “My previous roles as NSW Government Architect and as Executive Director in the NSW Department of Planning were very much on the side of government and regulation. But I now see that the real drivers of change are the risk-taking private sector developers who want to produce a good product that communities respect. I quickly learnt that being a developer of property is not easy and I heard war stories after war stories of the endless battles developers go through to make a project happen. I don’t think most people in the community realise that half the cost of a new home or apartment goes into a raft of levies, taxes, excessive reports, long delays and contributions. There is almost a community expectation that the more the developer gives back the better but of course this just drives home prices higher.”


“I am proud that I have begun the Urban Ideas publication and produced dozens of issues, that I began our Urban Taskforce annual conference and was able to use my architectural skills to promote visions of the city of the future in the media. Of course, these achievements were only possible with our small but talented team. In stepping down I will still want to be active as a judge in competitions, as an expert witness or as an adviser, but at a less frenetic pace.”


Urban Taskforce Founding Director and Secretary Treasurer, David Tanevski said “Chris Johnson has been a fearless leader for the Urban Taskforce over the last 8 years advocating for how the development industry can do density and growth better and explaining this to the Sydneysider. He has presented numerous visions of how Sydney can grow around transport corridors and centres over the next 20 years and at the same time strategies to protect suburbs. He has energised the urban density debate with the community as our government decision makers have sat on the hands and run from the difficult decisions that need to be made for accommodating housing growth and more jobs. I wish Chris all the best in his future endeavours.’


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