Maria Atkinson at The Fifth Estate's Sydney Surround Sound for Sustainable Precincts.

Deborah Dearing, Ed Blakely, Maria Atkinson and Sean O’Toole have been announced by NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes as district commissioners of the Greater Sydney Commission.

The Commission was put in place by the NSW Government to help modernise the way Sydney’s major infrastructure and urban planning priorities are delivered.

The structure of the GSC includes a chair (Lucy Turnbull); independent environment, economic and social commissioners; six district commissioners nominated by councils; and three government heads from planning, transport and treasury.

Mr Stokes said Ms Dearing, Mr Blakely, Ms Atkinson and Mr O’Toole had been selected by local councils to represent them on the commission.

“These men and women are renowned experts in their fields and I look forward to partnering with them and their communities to make sure that, as Sydney grows, the public reaps the benefits of that growth,” he said.

“For the first time, the local districts of Sydney will have a seat at the table during major planning and infrastructure decisions. By working together, we can ensure our planning decisions make people’s lives better now and into the future.”

Dr Dearing has been appointed north district commissioner, Ms Atkinson central district commissioner, Mr O’Toole west district commissioner and Professor Blakely west central district commissioner. South and South West districts are yet to finalise their appointments.

“[The Greater Sydney Commission] will move Sydney from its uncoordinated patchwork of local area planning to coordinated and focused planning for the city as a whole,” Mr Stokes said.

Dr Deborah Dearing has over 30 years of international experience in urban design, strategic land-use planning, heritage conservation, affordable housing and property development in both public and private sectors. She has held senior executive roles with the NSW Department of Planning, Architectus and Stockland, and board positions with the Australian Institute of Architects, City West Housing, Livable Housing Australia and the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust.

Sean O’Toole is the former managing director of Landcom, and an expert in land use planning and land economics. Sean is a member of the NSW Building Professionals Board and a member of the Hunter Development Corporation. He is a fellow of the Planning Institute of Australia, a fellow of the Australian institute of Company Directors and an associate of the Australian Property Institute.

Maria Atkinson has over 15 years’ experience on not-for-profit, international institutions and government boards and committees. She is a global operator with a deep understanding of social and environmental markets and trends. Maria has extensive strategic market and governance expertise and experience working with multinational organisations and multilateral agencies in the US, UK, Europe, Asia Pacific and the Middle East.

Professor Edward Blakely is honorary professor of urban policy at the University of Sydney’s United States Studies Centre and the chairman of the Future Cities Collaborative. He is an internationally recognised leader in urban economic development and has been directly involved in strategic planning, financing and real estate development and project management for more than 30 years.

Both Ms Atkinson and Mr Blakely were part of The Fifth Estate’s Sydney Surround Sound for Sustainable Precincts last year.

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