JOHN Alker-Jones came to Albury-Wodonga in 1974 fully expecting to see the twin cities grow to 300,000 people by the year 2000.
That was the dream of the Whitlam government, backed by the NSW and Victorian governments of the day.
Grand new satellite cities at Baranduda and Thurgoona with high-rise buildings and a university appeared on the drawing board.
But from 1976 the dream began to fall apart and official policies changed, on average, every couple of years after that.
As a result, Mr Alker-Jones’ role as senior planner changed dramatically.
Despite intending to stay only a short while on the Border, he has remained for 32 years.
Mr Alker-Jones, 62, will retire from the Albury-Wodonga Corporation this week satisfied that he has contributed to several growth centre legacies.
Born in England, he migrated to Tasmania as a child but returned to England to work for Warrington New Town in 1970.
He joined the Albury-Wodonga Corporation when, under Gordon Craig’s leadership, it was planning a huge decentralisation program.
At first, he worked under planning chief David Winterbottom but later became the top man in planning.
Until 1992, Mr Alker-Jones handled all planning permits when the corporation was the planning authority for the cities’ peripheral areas.
In 1992, those powers went back to local government.
“I thought my work had fallen apart then,” he said yesterday.
“But the corporation then focused more on environment issues related to the land bank and this fitted in well with changing government policies.”
He’s proud the corporation always set standards well ahead of its time.
Mr Alker-Jones said the tree planting and parks would be the corporation’s big legacies and he intended enjoying them.
“I’ll still be working voluntarily on the board of Parklands Albury-Wodonga,” he said.
Mr Alker-Jones regrets that two bids to establish a single city of Albury-Wodonga failed and he doesn’t think a third attempt would get anywhere.
“The two cities can still work together in many areas, and Parklands is a good example as the two councils recognise the asset,” he said.
While lack of communication between the cities had long been a problem, he thought certain competition could be positive.
Even with two councils, there should be a united approach so that Albury-Wodonga could compete with other regional centres, he said.