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Getting behind national urban design initiatives

Auckland City getting behind national urban design initiatives

Auckland City yesterday (11 February 2004) agreed to support two major initiatives that aim to continue to bring urban design to the forefront of urban planning.

The council has acknowledged the importance of urban design to ensure a quality urban environment as Auckland grows. A number of initiatives, including plan changes, the Urban Design Panel, urban design controls in key areas and in-house urban design training for staff continue to emphasise the council’s commitment to improving urban design in the city.

Although work has been happening on a local and regional level for some while, national activity has been slower to happen. However, that is changing with the development of the New Zealand Urban Design Protocol. This is a key action that was identified through the Sustainable Development Programme of Action, and is to be developed by June 2004 under the leadership of Hon Marion Hobbs, Minister with responsibility for Urban Affairs.

The proposed protocol is intended to be a national cross-sector commitment to the importance of achieving good urban design for New Zealand cities and towns. It is seen as a way of promoting discussion and achieving agreement at a national level about ways to improve urban design.

It is anticipated the protocol will lead to a series of actions by government and other stakeholders that will lead to practical outcomes and positive change in the way the design of cities is approached. Once the draft protocol has been developed it will be circulated for consultation.

The strategic direction, priorities and actions for the protocol are being set by an Urban Design Advisory Group. The group comprises 12 members from the urban design professions, central and local government and private practice from across the country.

From Auckland City, the manager of environmental planning at Auckland City, Penny Pirrit, has been invited to be a member of the advisory group.

Councillor Juliet Yates, chairperson of the City Development Committee says, “I congratulate Ms Pirrit on this appointment, which is a tribute to her professional skills, her involvement with strategic issues of growth and quality urban living.

“This appointment also reflects and acknowledges the steps that Auckland City have taken so far to promote good urban design. It also provides a valuable opportunity to ensure that the views of New Zealand’s most urban city are heard in the development of the protocol.”

The second initiative is the development of a continuing professional development (CPD) course in applied urban design. This is a joint initiative between Auckland City and the Auckland Regional Council in conjunction with academic and professional institutes.

The courses will be open to all professionals who shape the urban environment and aim to provide more informed urban design clients, better design briefs and smarter regulatory assessments for private and public developments.

The intensive workshop will explore the reasons why we struggle to build the places we like.

Mrs Yates adds, “Continuing education opportunities on urban design are essential if good urban design tools and practices are to become embedded into everyday processes.”

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