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The future of Placemaking and Urban Design

Brett Gawn's conversation with Local Government Magazine

  • 17 October 2016
  • Author: Brett Gawn
  • Number of views: 886
  • 0 Comments
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? 

click read more to continue reading

Special Housing Areas - Success or Failure?

Ree Anderson guest speaker at the UDF AGM

  • 10 October 2016
  • Author: Duncan Ecob
  • Number of views: 823
  • 0 Comments
Special Housing Areas - Success or Failure?
Ree Anderson at the UDF AGM (29Sept2016)
When Did the Auckland Housing Crisis Start?
..... was the opening questions from Ree Anderson, the previous head of Auckland Council’s, Housing Project Office (HPO) when she addressed the Urban Design Forum. Over an all too brief, 40 minutes Ree explored the SHA, its successes and the lessons learned, leading to many questions and opinions from the floor at its conclusion.
  

Ree gave insight into how the Council took the initiative in developing the approach to deal with the planning system’s poor decision process through the setting up of the HPO. This was in response to the Housing Accord and Special Housing Areas Act (HASHAA) which intended to speed the delivery of new housing through an integrated planning response. The HPO was led by Planners, coordinating the inputs from all the stakeholders involved in the Plan Variations and resource consent applications under the HASHA. These stakeholders include those Council Controlled Organisations (CCO's) such as Auckland Transport, Parks and Stormwater (now known as Happy Water, sorry, Healthy Water).  The intention of the HPO was that the process was led by Planners with an outcomes focus, not a rigid approach to meet rules. The Planner was empowered to use judgement in achieving a positive outcome to address the housing crisis that Auckland is facing. Bringing in the CCOs who are responsible for the 'hard' infrastructure to enable development meant that everyone had a say, but the final decision was a balanced view of the Planner.

This was considered to be one of the key successes of the HPO although it wasn't tested robustly at the evening. Another key success was the integration of infrastructure and for this to be planned as a response to the emerging SHAs.
Lessons learned ranged from the need to manage expectations, especially with the Press, through to the fixed end-date of the HASHA legislation. The HPO could assist in delivering the land and boost opportunity but there is a construction industry that has to deliver on the ground and this needs further planning and capacity building from the private sector. This in turn lead to discussion on the need for central government to have social housing programmes that would give certainty to the construction industry and its supply chain outside the ‘boom' years . The intent to cease the HASHAA at the time that the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan was adopted was thrown a curve ball by the appeals against the Plan, with the result that the legislation has been extended until late December 2016, but no further.

Further questions remained around how the up-lift of land value can be captured through zoning changes for the benefit of further investment in infrastructure, and the role of the structure plan. Who leads the structure plan when landowners are focused on house numbers (the economic driver) and not the social, open space and transport infrastructure which add real value? Social infrastructure appears to be a major gap in much planning: who will provide health, education and community facilities seems to be an issue few are willing to tackle.

In all it was an enlightening evening; Ree has an abundance of experience which was eloquently shared and raised further questions for the Forum to discuss

UDF opposes Minimum Parking Requirements in Town Centres

  • 7 October 2016
  • Author: John Mackay
  • Number of views: 658
  • 0 Comments
UDF opposes Minimum Parking Requirements in Town Centres

The Urban Design Forum has submitted in opposition to an Appeal by the supermarket chains and other “big box” who are retailers seeking to re-impose Minimum Parking Requirements on the town centres that they regularly abandon when they set up, for instance, a new PaknSave on a nearby traffic arterial.  


The “Key Retail” Group’s appeal was only possible under the Auckland Unitary Plan legislation because the Council (the respondent) chose to stick with their originally notified intention to dispense with minimum parking requirements, despite the Hearing Panel’s recommendation that the requirements be re-instated for retail and commercial floorspace.   The Panel had been persuaded by the “Key Retail” Group that their precious carparks would be over-run by motorists, who would then wander down the main street to spend their money at a café which had no obligation to build carparks of its own.  

We believe that the appeal is not about managing their carparks - it’s about preserving the competitive advantage for their car-based development model over traditional (and stagnating) mainstreet centres. Removing the requirement to provide parking in centres could well be the game-breaker that enables intensive redevelopment with mixed-use residential to start happening.  That’s more likely to be what the “Key Retail” Group are worried about, rather than managing their carparks against people who may want to do some comparison shopping. 

We opposed the Appeal on the basis that “the imposition of Minimum Parking Requirements imposes unnecessary costs on developers, results in poor design outcomes, and is contrary to the principles of a free market.”  In the case of many mainstreet properties, also, it is physically impossible to meet the parking requirements because traffic geometry doesn’t fit within the dimensions or shape.  

We lodged as a s274 party to the Appeals in association with the NZIA and Generation Zero.  The risks are zero, because our position is not as extreme as the respondent Auckland Council, who are additionally trying to impose maximum parking requirements.  We just want to leave it to the market :-) 

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