It is with great sadness that I advise of the passing of one of the truly great people in planning, David Whitney.
After a short illness, David passed away peacefully on Saturday morning, 11 March.
David was renowned for his integrity, passion, dedication and total commitment to planning in Victoria. He was a man whose honesty was always at the forefront of all that he did, whether it was through his planning practice at Perrott Lyon Mathieson (and its predecessors) and then Whitney Planning, his role as a Sessional Member at Planning Panels Victoria, his review work for the Victorian State Government for Melbourne 2030 and the series of 'Whitney reports', and the establishment and successful operation as general editor of the Victorian Planning Reports for 21 years.
David was involved in many organisations that promoted and advocated good town planning. He was a former President and Life Fellow of the Victorian Chapter of PIA, and holds Lifetime Achievement Awards from PIA for both Victoria and Australia. He was honoured with the Richard J Evans Award from VPELA in 2004. He was a Victorian judge for the UDIA Awards of Excellence for seven years. David was a sought after speaker at many conferences, forums and events where his honesty and integrity always shone through. This, amongst many other achievements, culminated in David being awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2013.
David leaves behind an incredible legacy in planning, and the planning legal professions. He was a much sought after expert planning witness for 30 years, and indeed, he was the number one to go person for planning and compensation cases until he chose to bow out of that part of practice. He could always be relied upon for honest advice and he called it as he saw it, he was the ultimate and pre-eminent independent expert witness.
As a consultant, he truly understood the important and constructive role of strategic planning, and there are many excellent planning outcomes throughout Melbourne and Victoria that have emerged because of his involvement. One of his personal favourite contributions is the water pump symbol that has become the emblem of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs, and I still have a copy of the strategic planning review that we did in the mid 1980s where he hand drew that pump, and recommended that Council profile it on all of its signage. It was one of the first examples of planning being used to successfully image an area.
Sadly, David lost his wife Andrea in October last year and when he was stricken with an illness from which he knew he would not recover, he said he was not dying of cancer, but from a broken heart. He is now at peace and with his beloved Andrea.
David's loss will be felt by many who have had the pleasure and honour of working with him in his various roles, or who have crossed paths with him through planning and planning law.
Personally, David was a great, great friend and mentor to me, and I know to many others in our profession. He taught me a lot, both professionally and personally. He was incredibly supportive to me throughout my career and I humbly share the outpouring of grief that is being felt by his family (and especially his children, Michael, Andrew and Kathryn) his colleagues and his friends at his untimely passing.
Chief Panel Member, Planning Panels Victoria, and Immediate Past President, VPELA