Bid made to place urban design on government agenda

by Ksenia Stepanova13 Jun 2018

A statement paper has called for the Government to establish a national urban design committee to help develop “a national programme of making better places through design.”

This follows last month’s Urbanism New Zealand Conference held in Wellington, which was opened by Wellington Mayor Justin Lester and Minister of Housing and Urban Development Phil Twyford. The conference focused on the economic drivers shaping New Zealand’s towns and cities and explored the influence of planning regimes, urban design and residential supply and demand, among other factors.

According to conference spokesperson Gerald Blunt, a post-conference workshop took the topics under discussion and refined them into the key issues that have arisen as a result of long-term poor planning and urban management in New Zealand. A five-point proposal has been put forth to the Government, along with a process for urgently engaging Twyford and other officials on options for taking the proposal forward.

The main problems facing New Zealand’s towns and cities were identified as housing unaffordability, overly complex legal planning systems and insufficient planning to respond to environmental shocks, growth pressures, economic changes and energy shortages.

As a result, the proposal’s main pitches include an improved policy framework to address urban matters, a national design review process to monitor projects such as KiwiBuild, a national policy statement on Urban Form and a coherent design response to climate change.

“This proposal could not be more timely given the newly announced Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, and the planning that will be going into creating a more robust network of supporting mechanisms around the new Ministry to make it a success,” said Blunt.

“We believe that such a committee would fill the gap of acting as a technical advisory group to relevant ministers and the public. It would not be a development agency, but it could eventually evolve into something similar to the UK’s Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment.”


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