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Planners stress need for housing, land-use research

Friday, October 3, 2014
Planners stress need for housing, land-use research

More research is needed to counter the impact of ongoing reform that is likely to weaken environmental protection legislation, says a Massey planning expert at a planning educators’ conference at Massey today.

Associate Professor Christine Cheyne, head of Massey’s planning programme, says the conference theme Planning, Politics and People was particularly relevant given the recent general election in New Zealand.

She was welcoming planning educators to the Australia and New Zealand Association of Planning Schools (ANZAPS) conference at the Manawatū campus, which runs from October 3 to 5.

She highlighted the challenges of climate change, increasing global population and poverty and inequality, and pressure on ecosystems and resources.

“The National government has initiated major reforms to the Resource Management Act over the past six years, which many believe weaken the framework for environmental management,” Dr Cheyne says.

“Reform is expected to continue. Central government intervention in the land-use planning system supposedly to improve housing affordability is to the fore of the political agenda. Questions arise as to the changing nature of environmental governance, and the implications for local democracy and community planning of this intervention.”

She says independent, rigorous research by staff and students in planning schools – especially postgraduate students – is critical for evaluating these reforms and informing policy.

“The graduates of our planning schools face enormous challenges in creating the liveable, sustainable and resilient environments that politicians aspire to deliver,” she says. “The knowledge, competencies and attributes that are developed through their planning education must be of the highest quality.”

Planning educators from Australian and New Zealand universities gathered to hear keynote addresses and papers on a range of aspects of planning education, including by internationally recognised Massey planning historian, Associate Professor Caroline Miller. Her keynote address, titled Planning Heroes & Heroines, explores leading figures in New Zealand planning.

Professor Trevor Budge, from Melbourne’s La Trobe University, discusses the importance for planning students of experiential learning. His research on a university-city council partnership demonstrates the role and capacity of students to make meaningful contributions to city planning.

“This conference provides us with a valuable opportunity to share good practice and to reflect critically on what, and how, we teach,” says Dr Cheyne. “ANZAPS is a very important network for planning educators in this part of the world and through it we are also connected to other, much larger associations of planning schools around the world.”

Massey’s Planning programme, part of the School of People, Environment and Planning, has recently undergone a rigorous external review by the New Zealand Planning Institute’s Accreditation Committee, led by senior Australian academic, Professor Robert Freestone. Both the bachelor’s and master’s degrees have been successfully reaccredited.

For more information about the conference please click here

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