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Views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the Urban Design Forum or its supporting institutes.

Will Thresher muses on transport and other issues

  • 4 April 2017
  • Author: Will Thresher
  • Number of views: 80
Will Thresher muses on transport and other issues
A few things that caught my interest over the last week or so. 
Bob Dey provided a heads up on the OECD’s state of the (environmental) nation review 
Having teased with this summary comment on the Urban Planning findings:
•         “broadening the scope of the national policy statement on urban development capacity to encourage good urban design outcomes & principles for sustainable urban development, …”
I was compelled to take a closer look at the document itself. The report discussions dense v. compact … and infrastructure ... (and urban planning a little bit).
It says: The review also looks at New Zealand’s fast-growing cities and suggests that a simpler urban planning system, less restrictive land-use regulations and better co-ordination between land, transport and infrastructure planning could help ease the pressure.
All of which made me curious - how were we doing with recent transport and infrastructure and planning - transport infrastructure in particular? 
A clutch of Transportblog stories helped enlighten me. 
On the subject of motorway infrastructure the Waterview tunnels shortly come into service however news that they will need light controls was a surprise , while perhaps the opportunity missed to provide continuous busways along SH16 was more predictable. Having said that, the urgent need for unanticipated SH20 widenings and local road improvements is another cause for at least mild astonishment - comments about the basis of running cost comparisons also make interesting reading. 
Miscalculations appear not to be limited to Auckland with Tauranga’s TEL provoking different questions.
On the enthusiastic adoption of (public) transport infrastructures (once provided) Auckland February public transport ridership is increasing beyond an average 200,000 bus and 70,000 rail boardings per day . How has your Mad March been?
What have we learned? Thinking about SH16 it has to be a concern if public transport connections are not optimised or created when transport links are at the planning stage. Looking at you NCI  and you EWL .
Good news that the need for a City Centre-Airport transit connection is

A curatorial architect: Sir David Adjaye

example of new typology for affordable housing?

  • 28 February 2017
  • Author: Stephen Olsen
  • Number of views: 204
A curatorial architect: Sir David Adjaye

Written on Thursday 16 Feb. 2017 - by Stephen Olsen

Of interest is the Sugar Hill, Harlem project that Adjaye Associates completed in 2012 and that has been lauded as a new typology for affordable housing.

The precast exterior, as chosen by the community, is tinted black and a local history of rose growing was borrowed from as the inspiration for a pattern of rose-like indentations on the outside walls to give a subtle light-shifting texture.

Adjaye explained that his approach to this remarkable multi-use vertical village for people at risk of homelessness was both site-specific but also a form of inclusive “city making”.

Linking houses prices to income, forever!

Community Land Trusts, a collaboration to help deal with the housing crisis?

  • 25 January 2017
  • Author: Duncan Ecob
  • Number of views: 370
The approach to the Auckland housing crisis will need a variety of methods to be resolved.  Whilst most will look to the private and government sectors to supply new homes to meet the demand there is a ‘Third Sector’ approach that has its roots in the 1960’s American civil right movement, Community Land Trusts, (CLT).  In the  USA the largest CLT has over 2000 homes and over the last decade CLTs has found increasing and popular support in the UK. 

CLT’s are set up and run by the community with the (UK) legal definition1

…. to further the social, economic and environmental interests of their communities, and be democratically accountable to their communities’  

These objectives are very similar to those of many levels local authorities and are often seen as a community vehicle to deliver affordable homes.  One of the strengths of the CLTs is that they are able to deliver affordable homes in perpetuity by linking the sale price to the local wage level and selling them at a much lower level than the local market price.  A condition of the sale is that any future sale price remains pegged to local earnings, forgoing the potential windfalls of the property lottery.  This is very different to the ‘right to buy’ of local authority housing which removes the bought property from the affordable and social housing markets.

How they can sell homes at a “wage related affordable cost” is related to the acquisition of the land at low to zero cost.   The land that CLTs use for development is surplus Local Authority or  government land  which is often sold to help ‘ balance the books’.  But the authorities are not obliged to sell to the highest bidder rather   to dispose of their land on the basis of the “best consideration” reasonably obtainable, which should take into account long-term value. Social and economic benefits can justify the sale of land below market price –  by working with CLT’s the benefits for the area in the long-term often outweigh cash raised upfront.

Catherine Harrington is the director of the UK’s  National Community Land Trust Network and says

“People are demanding more of a say about what regeneration looks like, instead of sitting back and being told what the future of their area is going to be,” she adds.

“It’s about changing the narrative of housing: building homes rather than investment units; having security and stability in a particular place, rather than being forced to move every six months; and mobilising popular support for development.”

The nature and purpose of CLTs can be hard to generalise because they are each responding to the specific local housing need in their respective areas, they are community led and operated so address particular community needs and aspirations.   A few examples include some set up with the following objectives


Christchurch Urban Design Panel Refresh

In October of this year, the Christchurch City Council sought Expressions of Interest (EOI) from leading built-environment professionals as part of a refresh of the Christchurch Urban Design Panel which has been operating since 2008. 

The EOI was an open call and received almost 60 expressions of interest, supported by nominations from fellow professionals. A total of 20 panellists have been appointed for a two year term of service, with 18 from within Christchurch/Canterbury area. 

Representation from the property development sector has increased, in line with a recommendation of the independent review of the Panel in 2015. The refreshed Panel benefits from the skills and experience of both existing and new Panellists. 

The support of the Urban Design Forum alongside other professional institutes and organisations has been recognised. UDF looks forward to seeing the Panel continuing to provide advice that adds value to urban development in Christchurch and raises the profile of urban design. 

The updated Christchurch Urban Design Panel membership is now live on Council’s website:

Urban Design Forum members appointed to the Panel are:

Tim Church
Janet Reeves
Robin Simpson

The future of Placemaking and Urban Design

Brett Gawn's conversation with Local Government Magazine

  • 17 October 2016
  • Author: Brett Gawn
  • Number of views: 885
The future of Placemaking and Urban Design

In May this year Local Government Magazine published an article on this topic. The article is a good read and can be found here. UDF committee member, Brett Gawn contributed to this by answering the following questions posed by Mary. 

When it comes to place-making and urban design how will the role of local authorities change over the next 10 years? What can local authorities do to make the most of these changes?

Good urban design and the creation of great places within existing urban areas often requires larger sites than generally exist within one lot or contiguous ownership. To achieve a good urban design outcome requires the aggregation of a number of lots to provide scale. The private sector has difficulty in doing this. Councils and or Govt may need to consider assisting with this by facilitating the aggregation of land into larger holdings and vehicles for development of those areas. (An example of this is the Tamaki Redevelopment Company.)

Another change I believe is for Local Authorities to be able to form teams of people from their various departments to work together both within Council and with the developer’s design team to work up master-plans for these larger development sites so that when formal planning applications are lodged there are no surprises for the LA or the community. Some of the learnings from dealing with Special Housing Areas needs to become norm for Councils.

Another change that I would like to see is a more macro and risk management approach to responding to development proposals – a bit less of inefficient sweating over minor matters. This would mean that an assessment of a proposal might start with the question “is this proposal on balance a good thing for the community?” If so – can the Council staff take a facilitative approach to working with the applicant to make it happen?

Councils are likely to face more standardisation over planning codes and guidelines through amendments to the RMA and National Policy Statements that will likely include urban design criteria.

In terms of placemaking and urban design, what are the 3 big issues that local authorities will need to consider in the next 10 years?  

o What challenges will local authorities face in achieving this?  

o How can they overcome these challenges? 

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