Vishal Chandra, Company Leader and Principal Planner at vUrbs Planning Services, says that his company is diverse in location and organic in nature – they spread and grow without boundaries. vUrbs has staff across Aotearoa, projects beyond our borders in the Australian states of Victoria and New South Wales, and an extensive history of work in the pacific. The work they do is equally diverse. They are also the latest company to join our NZPI Supporter Initiative Programme.

Who are vUrbs?

vUrbs are a team of planners working in Auckland, Hamilton, Gisborne, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown. Vishal founded the company in 2019 and has over 18 years of experience working as a planner in New Zealand, Australia and across the Pacific. He is an Independent Hearings Commissioner and has provided advice to Governments in Fiji and Tonga, forged strong connections through the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) and has lectured at the university of the South Pacific.

Vishal takes pride in the work they do across the country and their services range from plan-making, major consents, to work in both the rural sector and growing urban environments. He says the team has shared values that are communal and personable. Despite their geographic spread they are a connected team and don’t consider that their work is individual.

“We look at the past, acknowledge the present, but our aim and our focus is on the future. Our values are about looking after who comes after us and how we use the resources we have to ensure the next generation will have the same if not better”.

Aotearoa Pacific Practitioners Group

Vishal was a founding member of the Aotearoa Pacific Practitioners Group (APPG) and was until recently the Chair of this SIG. Vishal originates from Fiji but has lived much of his life in Aotearoa. Although he has little family left in Fiji, his connections to the Pacific are strong. He first became involved with NZPI and also the Fiji and Pacific Planners Associations when he helped to coordinate the Commonwealth Association of Planners conference in Fiji in 2016. He worked closely with representatives from PIA, and this has led to vUrbs projects in Australia.

Vishal talks about the approach in the islands to natural disasters and climate change. He says that extreme weather events are part of their common and cultural practices. “These people have lived with natural processes, disasters, and they carry on”. The mindset of the chiefs is not just to avoid risk but to live sustainably, grow your own produce and work with your environment.

Vishal always thought there was a greater risk of major disaster in the islands than in New Zealand, “but this year proved us wrong” and it’s happened here too. NZ is the same. Vishal says his company gives him flexibility to stop and consider projects, drawing on his vast experience across the sector. He employs people who carry those same collaborative values.

Why Become a Supporter of NZPI?

Vishal says that covid made it difficult to continue momentum after coordinating successful conferences in the Pacific in 2016 and 2019, and he transitionally stepped away from the role of Chair at APPG ending the role in 2022 to allow someone new to provide a new perspective on the role. As well as his extensive international engagement with other planning institutes, Vishal has a history of mentoring others in the profession and has recently signed up to the Auckland / Northland Branch Mentoring programme . This programme involves matching mentors who are full NZPI members with emerging planners for a 12-month voluntary period. He has only recently become aware of NZPI’s supporter programme, having previously assumed that it was for the largest companies. He says it’s a great initiative. He wants to be part of the programme and continue to support NZPI, and in particular the APPG SIG. He has lots of ideas and energy around supporting planning in the Pacific in the future.

NZPI Supporter Initiative Programme

The programme has been designed to forge stronger links between employers of planners and the Institute. Its supporters encourage all planners within their organisations to become and retain membership of the institute. This can occur in a number of ways including financial incentives, training and encouraging involvement in CPD activities. Supporters are also encouraged to explore opportunities for their organisation to assist the NZPI and its members, for example by offering to create CPD courses or workshops and encouraging members to participate in their local NZPI branch.

We’re grateful to have vUrbs join us with their support. If members or their companies are interested in becoming a Supporter, please see below ...

NZPI Supporter Initiative Programme