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arch-peace member takes PIA to London

London Planning People

Richard Lemon talks to Javiera Maturana, the chairperson of the newly formed UK Branch of the Planning Institute of Australia

With the ever growing number of Australian planners working in London, it comes as no surprise that the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA), the equivalent of the RTPI in Australia, has launched a UK Branch. Javiera Maturana, a planner at consultancy Scott Brownrigg, is one of the leading figures in the new branch.

Born in Chile, Maturana moved to Australia aged five, and was inspired by her parents to pursue a career in planning: her mother is an urban designer and architect and her father a public artist. A planning course at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology followed, and by 2004 she had worked as a planner for both the City of Yarra and the Shire of Mitchell. Her move to the UK came in 2004 when she took up a position as a retail planner with Savills in Manchester, before a move south to join Scott Brownrigg in London.
Javiera Maturana, chair of the UK Branch
of the Planning Institute of Australia
‘There are over 250 PIA members working
outside Australia, and over 50 of these are in the UK,’ Maturana says. Australian planners are helping to address the shortage of planners in London, and can take home valuable experience when they return to Australia. But there are particular issues facing Australian planners in the UK, so it made sense to set up a UK Branch.’

PIA UK was launched in June 2006 at a reception at Australia House, with presentations from both Sue Holliday, the President of PIA, and Rynd Smith, the RTPI’s Head of Policy and Practice. Since then it has been working to support its members. ‘PIA UK provides Australian planners with information which is particularly relevant to them,’ Maturana says. ‘For instance, we held an event with [advisers to highly skilled migrants] 1st Contact in late 2006, providing guidance on issues like sponsored visas. PIA UK is also a way for Australian planners to share their experiences of working in planning in Britain, and an opportunity for them to network and socialise.’

There’s no doubt that making the transition from the Australian planning system to planning in the UK is far from easy. ‘We have a zoning system in Australia,’ Maturana explains. ‘And it can be difficult to get out of this mindset. But working in a plan-led system has quite a few benefits. It improves [Australian planners’] understanding of planning in its widest sense. Particularly for young planners starting their careers in development control, planning can get too technical and procedural, and working in different systems can challenge our ideas about development.’

Despite being busy with her work at Scott Brownrigg and leading PIA UK, Maturana still finds time to act as membership secretary for Architects for Peace. ‘Architects for Peace is a forum for architects, urban designers, and other built environment professionals,’ she says. ‘It seeks urban development based on social justice, solidarity, respect and peace, and provides pro-bono services to try to achieve this. Most of its work is in the Asia-Pacific, but membership secretary is a role I can perform from the UK.’ She also worked as part of the design team for Architecture for Humanity UK’s ‘Crisis Open Christmas’ project, which provided accommodation and services for homeless people over the Christmas week.

Under Maturana’s leadership PIA UK looks set to go from strength to strength. ‘We want to provide a forum for sharing our professional experiences and provide practical support on issues such as visas and membership to the RTPI, whilst ensuring that Australian planners keep abreast of planning issues in Australia through their continued membership,’ says Maturana. ‘We’re also looking forward to discussing opportunities for joint working with RTPI London.’

Age: 24
Education: BASc (Planning), Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology; currently studying RTPI conversion course at Leeds Metropolitan University
Career: 2002-03, City of Yarra; 2003-04, Shire of Mitchell; 2004-05, Savills; 2005- present, Scott Brownrigg
Other roles: Member, Architecture for Humanity; Membership Secretary, Architects for Peace
Interests: Travelling throughout Europe; Latin dancing; sewing

This article first appeared in the March 2007 edition of RTPI London’s journal ‘London Calling’ and is reproduced with permission. For more information on RTPI London visit


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