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Ministry for the Environment’s comment

The New Zealand Urban Design Protocol (the Protocol) has provided a platform for central and local government, property developers and investors, design professionals, educational institutes and other groups to commit to quality urban design. The Protocol, through the requirement of signatories to develop ‘action plans’, encourages action-specific commitments to achieving a better quality urban environment. The Ministry for the Environment would like to thank signatories to the Protocol for their commitment and hard work to date.

This initial round of monitoring provides the Ministry for the Environment and signatories to the Protocol with baseline information on the implementation of the Protocol. It is clear from results of this monitoring survey that the New Zealand Urban Design Protocol is helping to lift the understanding and profile of urban design in New Zealand.

This report provides a sound set of information from which the Ministry can identify successes and develop more targeted support for all signatories. In particular, the survey findings will be fed into the following key Ministry activities and projects:

  1. Urban Design Champions’ network. The Ministry will continue to maintain and build the champions’ network to facilitate the exchange of information and raise the level of commitment in signatory organisations. This will include organising workshops, circulating an urban design newsletter and administering the champions’ webspace. The dialogue between councils, surveyors, planners, designers, engineers, policy planners and developers will also continue to be strengthened.
  2. Action Plans. The Ministry plans to increase the level of support given to signatories developing action plans by reviewing all plans on receipt, progressively holding one-on-one meetings with signatories and by ultimately making action plans available to all other signatories.
  3. Sector Groups. The Ministry will continue to support emerging sector groups and networks such as transport and health achieve their actions. Work will also continue with other sectors such as housing to raise the awareness of urban design and to facilitate communication and collaboration.
  4. Urban Design National Policy Statement. The Ministry recognises the need to create stronger links between planning practice under the Resource Management Act and the principles of quality urban design. Many councils looking to embed urban design within their district plans are seeking clearer guidance and support from legislation. The Ministry is currently investigating a national policy statement on urban design under the RMA.
  5. Development of Tools and Resources. The Ministry will continue to provide guidance and support to signatories promoting urban design best practice by producing case studies, working on joint urban design initiatives and by keeping the Urban Design Toolkit up-to-date.
  6. Addressing Skills Shortages. The Ministry for the Environments’ 2006 Local Government Urban Design Skills and Capacity survey showed that there is a lack of urban design capacity in New Zealand. The Ministry will work with educational and professional institutes to try to address gaps and shortfalls in the current system highlighted by this survey and to investigate other training opportunities there may be in terms of urban design.