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News and views from our members.
Views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the Urban Design Forum or its supporting institutes.

The stars are aligned…

Graeme Scott's Radio NZ interview

  • 23 May 2016
  • Author: Graeme Scott
  • Number of views: 25
The stars are aligned…
For better or worse, we now have cross-party agreement that Auckland’s proposed rural-urban-boundary is a bad idea.

Supposedly responsible for escalating residential land prices, it now looks unlikely to be included in the Independent 

Hearing Panel’s recommendations to Council.  That of course begs several important questions, such as:

Will the outward expansion be satellite cities, planned communities, or just ordinary sprawl?
Who will pay to install services in the vast areas envisaged to be opened up thereby reducing price?
How will transport be organised in the new areas, or will we just build roads?

Anyway, the announcement by the Labour party last week triggered this interview on National Radio between chairman Graeme Scott and Jesse Mulligan. 

Housing supply: it’s complicated

  • 13 April 2016
  • Author: Graeme Scott
  • Number of views: 276
Housing supply: it’s complicated

Respected business commentator, Brian Gaynor, writing in the NZ Herald on 2 April 2016, examines the changing role of banks over the last 30 or so years.  He outlines the history of banking deregulation and the subsequent massive rise in residential lending, from less than one billion dollars in 1984 to $211B this year.

His conclusion that “aggressive bank lending has been a major contributor to the sustained rise in house prices over the past few decades” adds yet another ingredient into the complex mix affecting housing supply.

Together with economists’ frequent references to our favoured tax treatment of houses, the growing view of houses as investment products rather than homes, the anecdotal evidence of dwellings standing empty in Auckland, and the significant proportion of the building industry being diverted into reconstructing leaky buildings, it’s a rich mix that warrants some serious attention from the government.

How disappointing, then, to read the Productivity Commission’s view that “planning has massively increased the price of urban land by not zoning and servicing enough land for new housing”, (NBR 15 January 2016) with only a passing reference to the multitude of other factors involved.

To be fair, the topic they’re investigating is urban planning, but their airy dismissal of the “many reasons why house prices have grown” is very frustrating.

However, in our submission to them, we stuck to our field of expertise and avoided politically fraught topics – you can read it here.  Many thanks to all those who contributed.

If you’re really stuck for something to do, you could read all the submissions at

In their submission, Sir Geoffery Palmer and Dr Roger Blakeley, noting the government’s current multi-headed interest in planning and urban design, went on to say “At the very least, those stakeholders with an interest in planning will suffer from submission fatigue.  Three sets of submissions on related, but not identical, topics are due almost at the same time.
This is a recipe for confusion and policy train wreck. Serious resources need to be brought to a topic like this, and to balkanize the policy resources of a small country in three separate efforts seems both unwise and profligate.”

We can all agree with that!

Better Urban Planning

UDF submission to the Productivity Commission

  • 23 March 2016
  • Author: Graeme Scott
  • Number of views: 276
It’s not often the government invites start-from-scratch thinking, especially on complex matters like urban planning.

However, that’s what their Productivity Commission asked us to do, and a group of members worked on a range of ideas.

The result of our efforts was submitted this month, and you can read it here.

Global Risks Report & NPS on Urban Development

  • 9 February 2016
  • Author: Graeme Scott
  • Number of views: 0
The NZ Herald on 18 January reported that failure to prepare for climate change ranked at the top of the list of global risks assessed by business-people worldwide, the first time an environmental concern has attained that distinction.

More surprising was the list based on just the New Zealand responses, which included “failure of urban planning” as a key risk to our wellbeing.

This rather raises the ante of what we do, at least in our day jobs, and will undoubtedly attract further government attention.

The government’s gaze has already fallen on the planning system in various ways.  First-up is their invitation to comment on a possible National Policy Statement on urban development.

Read UDF's NPS Submission on Urban Development

Tis the season to celebrate Auckland Design Office Case Studies

  • 16 December 2015
  • Author: The Editor
  • Number of views: 1197
Here is the first Auckland Design Manual case study on Our Auckland: 

Point Chevalier's incredible Zero Energy house

They’re publishing one a month on Our Auckland.



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