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Mayoral Taskforce on Urban Design

15 August 2006

First year success for Mayoral Taskforce on Urban Design

The first year of the Mayoral Taskforce on Urban Design has been marked by major successes to secure good urban design in Auckland city.

The taskforce, set up by Mayor Dick Hubbard in May 2005, signalled an urgency to address the city's urban design issues and stimulate public debate on the matter.

Mr Hubbard says the taskforce rose to the challenge of overhauling standards and its recommendations are already beginning to have an impact.

"This is a significant milestone in the history of our city. It says something about the commitment this council has demonstrated to good urban design.

"The taskforce has been the driving factor behind this council lifting its game and saying 'No' to bad design.

"A year ago, the taskforce recommended a raft of actions and we've taken those on board. We are now firmly in the business of turning down shoddy developments and encouraging the creation of memorable places and spaces," Mr Hubbard says.

Initiatives over the past year include the:

* appointment of an urban design manager to champion urban design

* recruitment of additional staff members to focus on urban design

* initiation of a programme of urban design training for council staff

* notification of plan changes to encourage good urban design, such as those setting minimum limits on the size of inner city apartments

* launch of the People's Choice Mayoral Urban Design Awards

* co-sponsorship of the urban design awards with the Property Council.

The chair of the Environment, Heritage and Urban Form Committee, Christine Caughey, says the council can be proud of the initiatives it has taken in the past year.

"This council has made a strong stand on good urban design and that is now widely recognised within the development community.

"We have also worked to collaborate with developers to ensure that they understand our vision and can respond by bringing quality designs to the table.

"I believe the path we are now on means we will see Auckland starting to develop a robust and unique sense of place in our urban environment," Ms Caughey says.

She says she's pleased the council has also seized the opportunity to offer incentives for developers to pursue good urban design through initiatives such as the co-sponsoring the Property Council Urban Design Awards.

The Mayoral Taskforce on Urban Design has identified a number of areas it wants to focus on in its second year of operation, including:

* rewarding good urban design through improvements resource consent processing
* championing urban design initiatives and changes in behaviour among professional groups
* demonstrating best practice urban design in the council's own projects
* reviewing district plan rules to ensure they do not allow for poor urban design.

ENDS

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