Verna Nel grew up in Johannesburg and qualified with a Bachelor’s Degree in Town and Regional Planning at the University of the Witwatersrand. She later completed a master’s degree (with distinction) and a doctorate through Unisa.

On completing her bachelor’s degree, she was employed at the Johannesburg Municipality, and later worked for a private firm and then a state department, being involved in a range of tasks including structure plans and layouts for new developments. In 1987 she was appointed to the Verwoerdburg Town Council. As a senior town planner she undertook the entire ambit of town planning work including spatial development planning at all scales, urban design, land use applications and spatial policy formulation. She was also responsible for the outdoor advertising policy, informal trading policy and economic development portfolio of the local authority.

In 1998 Verna Nel was appointed as Chief Town Planner in Centurion Town Council.
With the creation of the City of Tshwane she was requested to co-ordinate the local economic development function and later the city planning function. She acted as head of City Planning from July 2001 until August 2008.

In 2008 she received the City of Tshwane’s Top Achiever’s Award for her leadership and management abilities.

She left the employ of the City of Tshwane and joined the University of the Free State in February 2009. She is currently a Professor in the Urban and Regional Planning Department at the University of the Free State. Here she has taught various subjects, supervised over 50 Master’s and Doctoral students to completion of their dissertations. She has published in international journals, contributed to academic books and presented numerous conference papers. Her primary research interests are land use management in a South African context, developmental local government and resilience as applied within urban and regional planning.

She is married with 2 children and a grandchild. Her hobbies include reading and bird watching.

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