Practitioner in Residence Program


The Practitioner in Residence Program allows an experienced practitioner to undertake a period of supported research in residence at the University working on a project that is of interest to the Trust. The practitioner is supervised by an academic and writes a short and accessible monograph at the conclusion of their residency. In addition, each “graduating” practitioner delivers a public lecture on their findings. Expressions of interest are available for the 2016 program.

The first strategic research project was undertaken by the Trust’s first Planner-in-Residence Mr Giovanni Cirillo. The program is now in its fifth year

Current and Past Practitioners;

James Coleman Stacey Miers Keiran THOMAS Julie WALTON Yolande STONE Donald PROCTOR
Giovanni CIRILLO          

James Colman

Decentralisation – Could it help our fast-growing cities?

James Coleman  

After an intensive period of involvement in Architecture overseas, James Colman returned to Australia and commenced practice in town planning and urban design and later strategic and environmental planning, in both the urban and non-urban sectors.  During his time working, James has written extensively for both the professional and popular press and has published three books on urban planning and heritage.  


Throughout his career he has had many commendable professional affiliations including being an inaugural member of Australia ICOMOS, an inaugural member of the NSW Heritage Council in 1979 and being inducted into the Planning Institute of Australia Hall of Fame in recognition of his contributions to the profession over 4 decades of practice, teaching and writing in 2012.   


More recently James has been working on consulting assignments both abroad and in Australia and working as an expert member of three local independent planning panels. This has lead to maintaining a private consultancy firm in Sydney, whilst teaching part-time.


Outline of Research Project


In the language of urban geographers, planners and policy-makers the word “decentralisation” has long been used to denote the process by which the growth of a big city can somehow be curtailed by shifting some of the growth to other smaller urban settlements – thereby relieving the pressure on the ‘parent’ city whilst simultaneously bringing economic and social benefits to the recipient centre. In Australia, and especially since WW2 (and with few exceptions), governments at federal and state levels have embraced the concept with varying degrees of enthusiasm. But results on the ground are difficult to identify, and policy successes even more so.


This short research project aims to examine the topic from a contemporary Australian perspective. It has been stimulated by recent political interest in the decentralisation debate, and by vigorous discussion within civil society and the NGO sector about Australia’s demographic future and settlement pattern – linked directly to our migration program. It is hoped that the work will deliver an up-date on these matters and set a robust context for furthermore detailed research by the Trust and others.

Stacey Miers

Impacts of the NSW Planning System and Zoning Decisions

Stacey MIers


Stacey Miers’ research investigates the impact of the NSW Planning System on the land holdings of 4 NSW Aboriginal Land Councils (two in metropolitan Sydney, one in western Sydney and one in regional NSW) and the effect of land use zoning decisions on their objective towards economic sustainability. In addition, she has explored ways of supporting improved communication between the NSW Department of Planning, Local Councils, and the Aboriginal Land Councils.

This research project also meets the objectives of the University of Sydney’s Strategy Plan 2016-2020 and its commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures as defined in its strategy ‘Wingara Mura – Bunga Barrabugu’, (‘A Thinking Path – To Make Tomorrow’) which outlines the University’s obligation to expand Aboriginal education, research and engagement and for research in this domain to become part of the core activity of the University.

Miers' Paper








View summary: 3pages


Keiran Thomas

Housing Supply Outcomes From Codification in Sydney

Yolande STONE



Keiran's background is in NSW Government land use policy. He spent a decade with the NSW Department of Planning in major project assessment, assessment systems and strategic regional policy. This was followed by two years with the NSW Department of Industry managing coal seam gas licensing. He has qualifications in international urban planning, sustainable design and public administration and runs his own consultancy. Appendices 2 and 3 of Keiran's paper are separate from the complete document linked to below.

THOMAS's full paper


Keiran is the first Practitioner In Residence under the counsel of the Urban Housing Lab, which is the Trust's first Research Incubator.

Urban Housing Lab

Julie Walton

The Influence of Political Donations in Development




Julie Walton BA LLB, MTCP, is qualified both as a lawyer and as an urban planner (MTCP). She has a wide range of experience at local and State level, including a stint as a City of Sydney Councillor from 1991 to 1999. She was one of the two principal consultants responsible for the development of the Local Government Act 1993, a complete "plain English" rewrite of the 1919 Act.

In 1999 she conducted an Inquiry into the valuation of land in New South Wales for the Premier of New South Wales, known as the "Walton report". In 2003 I delivered a supplementary report to the Premier addressing additional issues raised in new material. From January 1996 until February 2004 Julie was a Director of the State Transit Authority, and was the Chairman’s nominee on the Public Transport Advisory Council.

Most recently Julie was a Principal Officer at the Independent Commission Against Corruption, working in the Corruption Prevention Division.
She has also spent close to four years providing risk assessment advice and developing fraud and corruption prevention strategies in the private sector (at Deloitte, and O'Connor Marsden).

Julie’s area of research as the Henry Halloran Trust's practitioner in residence concerns the use of political donations as a means of influencing decision-makers, with particular reference to development decisions. She believes it is timely to reflect on how best to protect and enhance the integrity of the planning system.

WALTON's full paper

Yolande Stone

Panels in the DA process

Yolande STONE



The increasing use of panels by councils to tighten up the development application (DA) process is a town planning trend Yolande Stone is researching as part of her Planner-in-Residency with the trust. Her research will help councils that are considering establishing panels decide on best practice.

Both state government and local councils are relying more on in-house and independent panels to provide expert advice on development applications to assist in decision making, and sometimes to assume the decision making role. This trend, described as the 'panelisation of the DA process', is occurring across NSW, South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria.
"Increasingly there is unanimous agreement that many council DA processes result in delays and increased costs for applicants and carry corruption risks and the potential for conflict of interest of the parties" says Yolande. "The use of panels has the potential to increase the integrity of decision making, provide for additional stakeholder engagement, reduce delays, strengthen the assessment process, and reduce the risks of court proceedings."

Yolande (BSc, UQld, M Env Stud, UNSW) recently retired after 20 years in the Department of Planning where she headed teams responsible for the planning policy, systems and reform. She is also involved with the University through her occasional lectures to postgraduate students on EIA and DA processes.

STONE's full paper

Donald Proctor

Communities of Practice




Donald Proctor, the second Practitioner in Residence, is undertaking a program on "Communities of Practice (CoPs): contributing to culture change, professional development and organisational innovation".

Communities of Practice, defined as "a group of people who share a concern, a set of problems or a passion about a topic and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an ongoing basis" (Wagner et al 2002) are both ubiquitous and imperfect.

Many CoP participants, including our Practitioner in Residence, have found themselves in a network that is lacking in some way but didn’t understand why or what to do about it. Can it be rejuvenated, or is it time to quit?

This project aims to investigate the literature on CoPs to better understand the essential drivers to success or failure. Existing forums of asset managers in the field of social housing provide a focus for illustrating or testing principles espoused in prior research.

It is intended that this application of research to practice will provide an accessible guide to a broad range of practitioners in strengthening their networks to achieve the benefits of a fully functioning, healthy and productive Community of Practice.

Donald has worked for many years as an architect, planner, project manager and asset manager in private practice, local and state government. Until recently he held the position of Director of Asset Programs for the NSW Land & Housing Corporation, formerly part of Housing NSW. In this position, he was a participant in an informal group of public housing asset managers across Australian States and Territories as well as New Zealand.

Donald has close ties with the University and the Wilkinson Building, having graduated from the Architecture and Urban & Regional Planning programs. While studying, he worked with staff and other students to establish STUCCO, the Sydney University Student Housing Co-operative, which 21 years on provides self managed affordable housing to 38 students in a converted Newtown warehouse.

Having a strong interest in professional development in the social housing field, Donald is a member of the Australasian Housing Institute NSW Branch Committee.

PROCTOR's full paper

Giovanni Cirillo

The Culture of Planning

Giovanni CIRILLO    

The issue of planning culture has arisen in the context of planning reform in NSW. The final discussion document on planning reform in NSW before a new act is legislated, the White Paper entitled A new planning system for NSW (NSW Government 2013), has raised the issue of planning culture as a major reform item. "To create a new planning system with a stronger focus on strategic planning, delivering outcomes and participation, there needs to be a shift in the current culture of the NSW planning system."

But what is planning culture and how could it be changed?
Giovanni has published a short paper on the topic "The Culture of Planning", examining these issues.

Giovanni Cirillo was the Executive Director of Urban Renewal and Major Sites at the NSW Department of Planning between 2009 and 2013. Giovanni’s areas of responsibility at the Department of Planning include Centres & Urban Renewal and Strategic Assessments branches. Giovanni is a graduate of the University of Sydney (Master of International Studies) and the University of New England (Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning with Honours, and a Graduate Diploma in Economics).

He has worked as a town planner for the last 21 years, mostly in local government but more recently in state government. Giovanni was previously the Director of City Planning & Regulatory Services at the City of Sydney. Giovanni was an author of most of the key planning controls that remain in effect at the City of Sydney today.