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ARC challenges councils to commit to protocol

14 September 2004

ARC challenges councils to commit to Urban Design Protocol

The Auckland Regional Council yesterday indicated its support for the Ministry for the Environment's Draft New Zealand Urban Design Protocol, currently out for public consultation.

The ARC has signalled its overall support for the draft protocol and will be making a submission before the end of this month.

Ian Bradley, chair of the ARC's Strategic Policy committee says that becoming a signatory to the proposed protocol would build on some of the work the ARC is already doing.

"Urban growth and development are priority issues for the Auckland region," Cr Bradley says. "It's not just about fitting people into the region, it's also about ensuring that we have a quality urban environment to live in. Having a national protocol that has buy-in and commitment from other agencies will go some way to improving the overall quality of both design and development throughout the region."

"We welcome the draft protocol and challenge other councils in the region, the development industry and professional institutes to sign up and really commit to a better standard of urban design," Cr Bradley says.

Cr Bradley says that while the ARC recognises that there are some gaps in the draft protocol at present, this is a positive step forward in terms of an overall commitment to improving urban design throughout New Zealand.

"The draft protocol is very broad at present and it relies on voluntary take-up. We may still need mandatory requirements for better quality construction and design, which we know the community is demanding," he says. "Ideally we would like to see some more specific mechanisms for how sustainable urban design will actually be achieved on the ground."

Cr Bradley also comments that becoming a signatory to the protocol will help add strength to the ARC's overall role in urban design. He highlights some of the initiatives that the Council has been involved in independently and as a member of the Regional Growth Forum, such as the production of the Terraced House and Apartment Buyers Guide and a video on urban design; the ARC's co-sponsorship of the Urbanism Downunder Conference in 2003; and the co-ordination of a short course in urban design which will begin in October. The review of the Regional Policy Statement currently underway will also include objectives and policies relating to quality urban design.

The ARC has recently collated a number of case studies to demonstrate how urban design principles can be applied in the development process, and the lessons learnt during development. These are showcased on the Council's website: www.arc.govt.nz. (also accessible via www.urbandesign.arc.govt.nz) In developing an action plan as part of being a signatory to the protocol, the ARC will look at what more it can do to encourage better design, and how the Council can support local councils negotiate better outcomes with the development sector.

The Draft New Zealand Urban Design Protocol aims to encourage a higher standard of urban design throughout the country, with signatories making a commitment to work with other sectors to develop and implement initiatives that contribute to the delivery of good quality urban design and development.


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