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Planning for a better future

Planning for a better future

A desire to make a difference to New Zealanders' built environment was the drive behind the long hours of study Lee Beattie put in to his PhD.
Lee, who teaches at the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of Auckland, will graduate this week alongside many of his students, with a Doctorate in Urban Planning.

Born in Auckland, the Grey Lynn-based resident grew up in Sydney before returning home with his family and completing secondary school in South Auckland at Papatoetoe High. He then went on to complete a Town Planning degree at the University of Auckland, followed by a Masters degree in Environmental Science at Birkbeck College, University of London.

An urban planner for twenty one years, Lee has worked in both private practice and local government, and it was while working as an appeals manager for the former North Shore City Council, that his PhD research project was formed.

“I was really concerned about the state of urban planning practice, especially the quality of our District Plans, which set out the future direction of our cities and towns and property rights. I was losing appeals (from council decisions) in the Environment Court primarily because of weaknesses in our District Plans, which was a difficult and testing experience,” he says.

As a result he started analysing District Plans in Auckland to see if they were delivering their intended outcomes and whether these outcomes were even achievable. His extensive doctoral thesis won the Wallace Ross Graduate Research Award from the New Zealand Planning Institute in recognition of excellence in research. Lee hopes the results of his study will start to impact on urban planning practice.

“Urban planners need to have a good understanding of design and land use economics, and this has now been incorporated into new degrees I have helped establish at the University of Auckland, like the Bachelor of Urban Planning (Honours) and the Master of Urban Planning degrees. Good urban planning is essential. The designs for our cities have a huge impact on people’s lives, so we must be planning for a better, more sustainable future” he says.

The University of Auckland’s National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries comprises the Elam School of Fine Arts, School of Architecture and Planning, the Centre for Art Studies, the School of Music and the Dance Studies Programme.


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