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A Simple Plan?

  • 2 August 2016
  • Author: Graeme Scott
  • Number of views: 205
  • 0 Comments
A Simple Plan?
The Auckland Unitary Plan Independent Hearings Panel’s recommendations to Auckland Council are clear, and as simple as they could be following the two-plus years of submissions/mediations/expert conferences and hearings involving almost everyone in Auckland’s design and planning community.  

Gone are the peripheral concerns around matters that are, or should be, dealt with by other regulations, such as dwelling and room sizes, ceiling heights, window sizes and insulation standards which, in the Panel’s view, are Building Code matters.  Arguments around socially aspirational outcomes (affordable housing, universal access) have been swept aside. The much debated rural-urban-boundary, following agreement by our national politicians that it’s a bad idea, has been predictably neutralised as an issue, although it’s still there in name.  Gone are the so-called urban design rules on such matters as garage door setbacks, windows to the street and front fence heights.  Requirements for parking on private land are, thankfully, mostly gone.

So, a simple plan; a plan that is, as they say, focussed on outcomes and integrated both vertically and horizontally.  By way of example, in the residential rules (the main area of my involvement), the outlook requirements from habitable rooms are now common to all the main zones, and I never did understand why, in the originally proposed plan, the mixed housing zones had yards and height-in-relation-to boundary-controls, while the terrace house and apartment zone had stepped setback dimensions to achieve much the same end.  All these zones now have a common set of rules, covering such matters as coverage, building separation, outdoor living and fences.

The Panel has taken the Auckland Plan very seriously, and has modelled their recommended plan on the principles set out in the 2010 document.  But more than that, it has actually delivered on the compact city vision, with almost 60% of the planned 422,000 dwellings over the next 30 years to be located inside the 2010 Metropolitan Urban Limit.  Some of the increase in the planned numbers above the originally proposed 212,000 came from mediated changes to the zone rules during the hearings process (it went up to around 296,000 as a result), but the huge increase to the present number appears to be largely a result of applying the zones differently on the maps.  Density around centres and transport corridors has been emphasised.

So this is the good news, but the other part of the Auckland Plan’s vision for the quality compact urban form is the “quality” part, and this is where the recommended plan encounters some difficulty.  While “recognising that the need to achieve a quality design is increasingly important as the scale of development increases”, the Panel’s report goes on to say “good design is based on principles rather than rules. Mere reference to good design or the listing of preferred design principles is ill-suited to a regulatory framework which imposes binary ‘grant/decline’ outcomes. Discretionary decision-making must be exercised on the basis of relevant and clear objectives, policies and assessment criteria rather than on subjective preferences”.

Auckland Council’s brave attempt to start to address this issue through the mandatory provision of Design Statements has been ruled out as being costly and ineffective, but there’s little on offer as a replacement, and no mention of peer design review which has proved so successful at Hobsonville Point, for instance.

Perhaps it’s unrealistic to expect an RMA plan to deliver

Entertained, enlightened, educated and invigorated

Fresh from his success at the UDF sponsored Christchurch event, Gil Penalosa presented 8, 80 Cities at Auckland Conversations on Tuesday 5th July

  • 13 July 2016
  • Author: Duncan Ecob
  • Number of views: 307
  • 0 Comments
Entertained, enlightened, educated and invigorated

Dealing with a wide range of topics from equity (not equality) through the dignity of walking and cycling, to designing cities for people not cars Gil covered a variety of issues that are facing Auckland now and challenged us to not be complacent.

Having been a commissioner in Bogota he warned of the peril of the CAVE people (citizens against virtually everything) and of ‘keeping on doing the same thing’.

He had 8 messages for Auckland
1. Change is hard. (Doing what you are doing now, is easy)
2. Don’t be complacent. You may think you are great but you are probably just good! Copenhagen is recognised as a world leader in cycle infrastructure with 41% of trips by bicycle. But they are striving for 50% (and then what)
3. Design for all ages and all abilities. Would you send your 8 year old out to this world or your 80 year old?
4. Equity not equality – some need more than others, don’t give everyone the same. Some disadvantaged need more help. How you treat the most vulnerable is a reflection of the city.  One neighbourhood may have more than it needs, deficient neighbourhoods need attention and respect!
5. Play everywhere. It is for all ages and is a learning and communal experience for all
6. Walk.  Plan for it and make it a priority. Birds fly, fish swim, people walk. Even if it is only at the start or end of the journey (or between L1 and L2)
7. Sustainable mobility. Public transport integrated with walking and cycling. A great city is where the rich use PT
8. Community is the expert. Consultation and engagement is key before the experts get involved. The community knows what works for them. Experts can deliver and design it for them
9. Benefits.  Always tell people about the good aspects of walking, cycling and pt. and make this about outputs, outcomes and impacts.  (quality open space = more people encouraged to use it = improved health and longer lives)
And a final message
STOP TALKING, START DOING!

For those that missed it it is now on the  AKLconversations website as audio 
http://conversations.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/events/8-80-city-creating-vibrant-and-healthy-communities

Link to the RadioNZ interview:
http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/player/201807646

Christchurch articles following Gil's visit:
http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/81725401/Christchurch-officials-should-experiment-more-expert

http://ccc.govt.nz/the-council/newsline/show/774


 

Proposed National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity

Submissions close 15 July 2016

  • 23 June 2016
  • Author: The Editor
  • Number of views: 428
  • 0 Comments
The Government has issued the much anticipated Proposed National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity

Proposed national policy statement on urban development capacity: consultation document (pdf)
Submissions close at 5pm on 15 July 2016.

Purpose of the proposed NPS-UDC
The purpose of the proposed National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity (NPS-UDC) is to ensure regional and district plans provide adequately for the development of business and housing. This is to enable urban areas to grow and change in response to the needs of their communities.

If made operative, the NPS-UDC would be supported by guidance for local authorities on how to implement it.

Visit website

Landscape Architecture Aotearoa E-Magazine

NZILA's e-magazine Issue 1 Winter 2016

  • 23 June 2016
  • Author: The Editor
  • Number of views: 133
  • 0 Comments
Included in this edition:
Urban Opinion: New Typologies
On the Cover: Porirua Revitalises
Legal Commentary: The Desktop Dilemma
Plant Guide: Shade-Tolerant

 

Read Issue 01: Landscape Architecture Aotearoa E-Magazine

The stars are aligned…

Graeme Scott's Radio NZ interview

  • 23 May 2016
  • Author: Graeme Scott
  • Number of views: 602
  • 0 Comments
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.  http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/afternoons/audio/201801310/explaining-the-auckland-housing-crisis 

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