PLANNERS NORTH was established in 1986 as the first dedicated town planning consultancy on the NSW Northern Rivers. Today the firm is a partnership of the practices of Kate Singleton RPIA and Steve Connelly RPIA (Fellow). We provide robust, personalised and client focused advice to government, business and the general public.

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With more than 45 years of experience in local government and private practice, we are committed to working with our clients to achieve planning and development results that are sound, creative and sustainable.

Our focus is to combine our technical expertise and experience with strong project partnerships and dedicated team work to deliver solutions to often complex challenges and to satisfy often conflicting interests.

Impact Assessment

Our practice is built on the fundamentals of getting Ecological, Economic and Social impact assessment right. We achieve this by the rigorous assessment of the complex web of statutory and policy planning documentation in unison with the careful selection of the appropriate technical specialists to blend site planning with externalities to achieve a sustainable conclusion.


To meet the rigors of contemporary statutory planning regimes, quite complex and detailed assessments are required from a range of experts to allow sustainable site planning to progress to a property masterplan. Our expertise is in the astute selection of the appropriate specialists and in interpreting the resultant technical reporting (which is sometimes initially conflicting) to coalesce site planning towards an optimum outcome.

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Public Policy

We provide Public Policy advice at all scales. Kate Singleton and Steve Connelly have been involved in the full gambit of strategic planning advice from urban structure masterplanning, ecological management planning, business planning and policy planning at the local scale (Local Environmental Plans, Development Control Plans, Strategic Planning Policy) through to regional planning (Regional Strategies and State Significant Development Proposals).

Expert Testimony

In most situations, the planning system provides for the orderly and economic use of land without the need for conflict resolution. However, there are times when town planning questions require adjudication by an independent Court or Tribunal. Kate Singleton and Steve Connelly are well-versed in the preparation and delivery of expert opinions to independent assessment, having appeared and provided expert testimony in over 70 cases.

Due Diligence

Nowadays, determining the “development potential” of a property is much more complicated than simply obtaining a Zoning Certificate from the Council. PLANNERS NORTH provides an expert advice service researching published data in terms of constraints and opportunities, and the reviewing of various registers (Councils, Government Departments) to help clients truly determine the realistic development potential of a parcel.


PIA NSW Division – From Plan to Place, Award for Planning Excellence 2018

Habitat, North Beach, Byron Bay

The Habitat is a mixed-use village in the Byron Arts and Industry Estate, planned around the concept of living and working in one sustainable community. Driving the Habitat master plan was the idea that the development should provide a good quality public domain with a focus on best practice sustainability and a high level of permeability to its surrounding context.
After almost thirty years of planning, a vibrant community now exists. A commercial hub forms the heart of the precinct,  centred around a community square set within a subtropical landscape. Live/work buildings are sustainably designed with basic but good quality low cost housing and articulated work spaces, encouraging residents to tap into the  collective creativity of the precinct. The Habitat demonstrates the  successful implementation of mixed-use zoning and a feasible model for a highly sustainable, well designed mixed-use village. It promotes small scale business, enhances Byron’s lifestyle and tourism image and delivers a great place for the community to live work and recreate.

UDIA NSW Division – Best Residential Development 2008

North Sapphire Beach Estate, Coffs Harbour

The land subdivision incorporates a wide variety of residential lots, including an exclusive beachside gated community with the unique advantage of also having a rainforest at your back door. North Sapphire Beach is one of the last waterfront development sites on the Mid North Coast, boasting over 38h of parks and open space.

PIA NSW Division – 2005 Design Excellence Award

North Sapphire Beach Draft Master Plan, Coffs Harbour

Creating a feeling of spaciousness around the development, over half the 71 hectare site is preserved as parks and natural coastal wetlands with 15,000 hectares of protected state forest beyond its borders. The neighbourhood is ribboned with 10km timber boardwalks, cycleways and natural rainforest, nestled in an idyllic setting amidst mountains and the scenic Sapphire beach, with homes leading down to the surf.

Northern Rivers Urban Design Awards 2005 Merit Award

Master Plan for Angels Beach North, East Ballina

PIA NSW Division 2004 Commendation

Northern Rivers Regional Srategy. Villages Study

RAPI NSW Division – 1999 Award

Clarence Valley Residential Strategy

RAPI NSW Division – 1997 Award

Computers in planning. Visit the NRRS website

RAPI NSW Division – 1997 Award

‘Northern Rivers – Framework for a Sustainable Future’


Photographic Credits

  • Graeme Cross via Unsplash.
  • Juan Carlos Fernandez Diaz/National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping. Source.
  • Ciudadela Colsubsidio, Bogotá. Stock photo.
  • Sketch by Eleanor Doughty, Shi Shi Beach source.
  • Book launch promotional visual, Habitat Byron Bay source.
  • Photo of a poster in the Northern Rivers Region – This is a poster at Newy Store (New Brighton).  A local resident who had her yes posters egged regularly during the campaign wrote this on the sign (with the permission of the shop owners).