The Ministry for the Environment (MfE) has, over recent years, provided leadership to councils and the wider community in promoting urban design initiatives to make our towns and cities more successful places. That has been, through the establishment and implementation of the 2005 NZ Urban Design Protocol, a voluntary non-statutory initiative with associated tools and resources including, The Value of UrbanDesign, Urban Design Case Studies, and the Urban Design Toolkit. In November 2008 a Review of Urban Design Case Law was released, which identifies how urban design is being considered by the Courts in New Zealand.
The MfE engaged MWH New Zealand Ltd (MWH) in November 2008 to undertake research into the nature and extent of urban design related provisions contained in statutory plans and policies prepared under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA). The purpose of this research is to provide MfE with:
- baseline information to help inform future Urban Design Protocol tools and resources
- a foundation for any future urban policy analysis.
The research involved three phases as follows:
- A pilot study to test the proposed methodology
- Full research of a representative sample of local authority RMA policies and plans
- An analysis of relevant plan changes to the selected RMA policies and plans.
Phase 1 of the research was undertaken in December 2008 and January 2009. Five RMA planning documents were selected for assessment in the pilot study, in order to test the appropriateness of the methodology developed by MWH. The details of the selection process for these documents, is discussed in Section 2.2 of this report. From the pilot study, it was determined that, with some minor changes, the proposed methodology was appropriate for the full research project in Phases 2 and 3.
The decision was made to undertake Phases 2 and 3 concurrently, as it was considered to be more efficient to assess any relevant plan changes to a selected planning document following the assessment of that document, as opposed to following the completion of the assessments for all selected planning documents. This work was undertaken in January - April 2009.