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Urban leader - A newsletter for urban design champions

Issue no. INFO 631 | 14 November 2011


Welcome. This regular newsletter contains interesting information to help you champion good urban design in New Zealand.

In this issue we have:

Central Government news

The Government is proposing changes to the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) to better manage the risk of natural hazards.  A technical advisory group has been appointed to advise the Minister for the Environment on any changes that are necessary to sections 6 and 7 of the RMA. Further details are available in the Minister for the Environment’s speech to the RMLA conference.

The Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Bill has been introduced. The bill replaces the current Historic Places Act regulatory framework for archaeological heritage.

Statistics New Zealand has released the results of its 2010 General Social Survey which reports that Kiwis have relatively high levels of satisfaction with their lives.

The Environment Court has updated its practice notes which came into effect 1 November 2011. A summary is provided on the Resource Management Law Association website.

Canterbury news

Over 6000 additional properties in Canterbury have been reclassified from the residential orange zone to green. This means that these properties can now be built on, although some may need remediation.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) has released the Government’s response to Christchurch City Council’s draft Central City Recovery Plan.

The Government has used powers under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011 to make changes to the Canterbury Regional Policy Statement (RPS). These changes can be found on the CERA website and identify areas available for urban development, specify densities, make provision for sequencing of developments and require detailed design plans.

The Ministry for the Environment has released the Canterbury Fact Finding Project report. This report looked at the extent to which information on liquefaction and lateral spreading hazards was factored into development processes for parts of Canterbury.

The interim report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Building Failure caused by Canterbury Earthquakes has been released.

Upcoming urban design events

The New Zealand Planning Institute is calling for abstracts for its 2012 conference.  Blenheim will be hosting A Taste of Things to Come from 1-4 May 2012.

The 4th Urban Street Symposium will be held in Chicago, Illinois from 24-27 June 2012. The symposium will explore improvements in and alternatives to suburban and urban street design practices.

Useful links and current information



  • The OECD report How’s Life looks at important factors that shape people’s lives and well-being. This includes income, jobs, housing, health, work and life balance, education, social connections, civic engagement, environment, and person security. The report finds that well-being and quality of life has increased on average in the past fifteen years.
  •  New research suggests that community planners could use reality TV to increase public participation in urban planning projects.  Rather than trying to pull people away from the TV to attend public meetings, reality TV can be used to create ‘ethical spectacles’ that draw attention to planning issues and create two-way dialogues.

Website of the month

Harden Up is an Australian website aimed to help Queenslanders become more self-reliant during natural disasters. The comprehensive site provides information on historical extreme weather events, how to prepare a ‘harden up’ plan and a special section aimed at children.

Podcast of the month

Jan Gehl talks about his incremental approach to urbanism in this 32 minute interview. He discusses how Copenhagen’s public space improvements have been successful using a slow build up of small projects, rather than master planning.

We want your news items

Do you have news that you would like reported in the next Urban Leader? We welcome your stories, and would like to receive more information from Protocol signatories. Email us at

Submitted articles may be edited by the Ministry for the Environment.


Last updated: 1 February 2013