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State Govt's Planning director quits

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The director of the State Government’s Planning department has quit, just months after the rollout of a new statewide planning and design code and little more than a year after the agency was split from its former home in Transport and Infrastructure.

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Anita Allen resigned today to join the private sector, after 17 years in the public service – the latest in a spate of departures from Government’s planning agency in recent years.

In a statement, she said: “After 17 years, I have decided to leave the State Government’s Planning and Land Use Division and join [town planning consultancy firm] URPS [where] I will be taking up a Principal Consultant position and working closely with their policy team.”

She is expected to remain in her role under executive director Sally Smith until December 10.

“I have had an exciting career working within the public service and have had the benefit of working with a passionate group of professionals that continuously drive to achieve positive outcomes for the South Australian community,” she said.

“I have truly loved the diverse range of opportunities I have had and the amazing people I have had the privilege of working with.

“I am so proud of what we have achieved together over the past five years with hard work, dedication and a strong sense of belief in what we do.

“However, I am now ready, with all the skills and knowledge I have gained in working with great leaders and mentors, to take the next step in my career.”

She said that “creating sound planning policy, helping people to understand it and then deliver on its intent is important to me”.

“This has always been my focus during my career with the State Government and will continue to be at URPS,” she said.

Attorney-General Vickie Chapman thanked Allen “for her 17 years with the Planning Department, during which she has overseen major planning reform”.

“For the past five years she has been integral in developing, delivering and implementing the once-in-a-generation reform, which has streamlined and improved our state’s planning system,” she said.

“I thank her for her tireless work and wish her well in this exciting new opportunity.”

URPS posted a statement on its LinkedIn site, saying Allen would “work principally in our policy team with a focus on code amendments, regional planning, master planning and infrastructure planning”.

“Many will know Anita as a driving force in delivering the South Australian Planning and Design Code – a colossal effort by any measure,” the statement said.

The code and the Government’s new e-Planning portal experienced a troubled gestation, with the project delayed twice amid an employee exodus, including State Planning Reform Director Marcus Bal.

His replacement, Sydney-based Ray Partridge, was later sanctioned for “falling short of expected standards of conduct” after he arbitrarily sacked a contractor who questioned his edict that a project team was no longer allowed to work remotely in the midst of the coronavirus lockdown in April last year.

The department was then moved under the auspices of the Attorney-General in a reshuffle prompted by the resignation of former Planning Minister Stephan Knoll amid a broader country members allowance scandal.

But the planning code finally went live in March, nine months after its original target.

Knoll today commented on Allen’s public statement via LinkedIn, saying: “The new system would be nowhere without you.”

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