Sara Stace, NSW Cities Unit (left) with Julie Bindon JBA, at last week's BEMP conference.

Sara Stace has been appointed principal policy officer with the little-known cities unit in the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, which has been operating, if not quite under cover, at least under the radar.

The unit, with the official title of Cities Branch, Economic Development, has around 20 staff members.

Ms Stace was previously director planning analysis, with the highly regarded Major Cities Unit in the federal government, before it was axed by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

She has also been executive director of Link Place, associate director at Urbis, general manager of the Esplanade Property Fund and an architect with Tzannes.

The NSW cities unit is headed by Sarah Cruickshank whose background includes assistant secretary G20 Taskforce, part of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet; she has been general manager communications with the federal Department of Industry, and managing director of Ogilvy Earth.

A spokeswoman from the DPC said: “The Cities Branch sits within the Economic Policy Group at the Department of Premier and Cabinet and was established in 2013. The 20-strong team supports the NSW Government in the coordination of major policy reforms and infrastructure projects relating to public transport, urban renewal, arts and culture, sport and public space, and housing supply. The Branch also leads NSW Government’s engagement with the Federal Government on cities policy.”