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Section 5: Implementation Tools

Establishing Processes and Organising People and Resources

Implementation tools offer different mechanisms for the delivery of quality urban design outcomes, and are used by a range of professionals to manage, motivate and organise urban design projects. While disparate, the implementation tools focus on the means of building quality urban design projects. Implementation can therefore be considered through all stages of an urban design project.

A number of the tools focus on discussing and resolving design issues before the construction of a project. Implementation tools can help clear roadblocks in the design process, provide collaborative management structures, and develop creative design solutions.

This section describes:

Business Improvement District

What it is:

A defined area in a city or town where a partnership between public and private interests plans and manages events, marketing and the public environment in order to enhance local business. A ‘business improvement district’ or BID can be used to collect a special differential rating that is applied to specific projects within the zone.

What it’s useful for:

Any town, city centre or main street that has private and public interests willing to support joint management and regeneration projects.

How it’s done:

Support must be gained from both the local government and private business owners to form the zone. If a differential rate is set, agreement must be gained as to what projects or actions the money is to fund. This is the US equivalent of the UK ‘town improvement zone’. A business improvement district can provide funding for a town centre programme and ‘main street programme’. The development of a precinct plan or streetscape plan sets the development policies and guidelines for a business improvement district.

References

Design Advisory Group

Design Advisory Group

What it is:

A group made up of design experts and/or informed decision-makers, brought together to provide high-level design strategy advice and direction. This type of group generally provides strategy and policy advice, in contrast to an urban design panel that offers design assessment and project-based critique.

What it’s useful for:

Useful where inclusiveness, wide ownership, independent/neutral advice, and local and expert knowledge are required to direct and lend authority to advice on an important urban design issue.

How it’s done:

Members of a design advisory group are usually selected for their experience and authority as practitioners in their disciplines.

References/examples

Design Assessment

What it is:

An assessment prepared by the designer on the rationale behind a design proposal for a project.

What it’s useful for:

Explaining how the project meets the design brief, design guides or other urban design criteria. Design assessment is essential in projects that involve a design review process. A design assessment is also helpful any time a project proposal is presented to an audience to help explain and clarify a particular design approach.

How it’s done:

The designer should write the assessment outlining how the design meets the design brief, guidelines or other criteria. When it is part of a resource consent application, a design assessment requires the designer to explain their design approach. This ensures the designer has considered all aspects of the design guidelines that may be evaluated under a design review.

Reference

  • Scottish Executive Development Department. Planning Advice Note – Design Statements: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2003/08/18013/25389. This Scottish publication explains what a design statement is, why it is a useful tool, when it is required, and how it should be prepared and presented.

Examples

Design Competition

What it is:

A process for selecting a design solution for a site or project where a variety of design proposals are submitted and judged according to a design brief provided by the competition organisers.

What it’s useful for:

Generating a number of creative design solutions from a wide range of designers. Often used as a way to select designers for large public-interest projects. Competitions can also be a useful means of community education and participation, depending on the type of competition.

How it’s done:

Entries are invited to respond to a competition brief that includes assessment criteria, and the process of evaluation. The evaluation is normally undertaken by an urban design panel. A robust, fair and open process is required so the competition avoids controversy and/or stagnation.

Typical variants are:

  • An ‘open design competition’ – open to all members of various design professions and/or the community. It is usually used to generate ideas and stimulate interest, in which case it may be an ‘ideas competition’. Concepts are usually then incorporated into a brief for design development or the next stage of a multi-stage competition. Typically, entrants are not paid.

  • A ‘limited design competition’ – open to a small number of participants, generally three to five people, who are invited on the basis of their creative ability and, in the situation where the competition winner will go on to deliver the project, their professional capability to deliver the entire project brief. Participants may be invited to compete in limited design competitions for public projects following review of credentials submitted in response to advertisements for registrations of interest. Typically, participants are paid a flat fee.

  • A ‘two-stage design competition’ – has an initial ‘ideas’ stage to select a short-list of participants for a second stage that will produce a defined design proposal. Teams undertaking the second stage of such a project are usually required to have the capability both to design and deliver the final product. Participants are typically paid a flat fee if selected for the second stage.

References

  • New Zealand Institute of Architects. Guidelines for the Organisation of Architectural Design Competitions: http://www.nzia.co.nz/.

  • New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects. Guidelines for Landscape Design Competitions: http://www.nzila.co.nz/.

Examples

Design Review

What it is:

A formal assessment of the merits of a project design proposal by an expert or an ‘urban design panel’ of experts.

What it’s useful for:

Used where there is a requirement to ensure implementation of high-quality design. Generally, design review is applied to types of development that are considered significant because of their potential effects on the public environment resulting from their size, frequency, intended activity, location, or a history of poor development. Private sector developers use design review where a high quality of design is required for buildings on individual lots in a subdivision, especially when there is a ‘covenant’ on the land. Design review is particularly effective when it is initiated early enough in a project to allow the developers and designers to modify their design approach easily.

How it’s done:

Design review should be guided by statutory or non-statutory design guides to ensure a consistency of approach by the developer and the surrounding community. Design review may be carried out by a single person who is skilled and experienced in design, with peer review, or by an ‘urban design panel’.

An urban design panel should comprise a range of independent and experienced design experts with the support of in-house design expertise. Panels usually give independent and professional advice on developments as part of a pre-application meeting process. Panels normally do not have statutory decision-making powers, rather their recommendations may be included in a planning report on an application. Panels usually assess large or significant projects, or all projects within a specific area.

References/examples – Design review general

  • Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) 2002. A document describing the design review process established by CABE.

  • Ministry for the Environment 2005. Urban Design Case Studies: New Zealand Urban Design Protocol: Ministry for the Environment website. Auckland University of Technology demonstrates a coordinated approach to urban design between AUT, JASMAX and Opus with the Auckland City Council’s Urban Design Panel.

  • Napier City Council. 2000. The Ahuriri area. Developers – West Quay Guide: http://www.ahuriri.co.nz/present-west-quay.asp. West Quay Design Team established, comprising expertise in planning, architecture, landscape architecture, art and engineering, together with experience in dealing with historical and cultural issues. The design team’s role was two-fold in assisting the Council with the streetscape design for West Quay and responding to resource consent applications with appropriate pre-consent advice to potential developers.

  • Wellington City Council Technical Advisory Group for the Wellington Waterfront: http://www.wellingtonwaterfront.co.nz/about_us/governance/.

Examples – Urban design panels

Incentive Zoning

What it is:

A zoning mechanism that increases the permitted development rights for a particular site in exchange for the development providing a designated community benefit, for example, public open space, walkways, artwork or protection of a heritage building.

What it’s useful for:

In high-value development areas where there is a need for public facilities, but where these cannot be achieved without compensation to landowners and developers.

How it’s done:

Incentive zoning takes the form of increased development rights, usually measured as increased plot or floor area ratio, in exchange for a benefit, such as public plazas or access through a site, a high-quality public space on the site, or the retention and conservation of a place of historic or heritage value. Incentive zoning may also involve transfer of development rights between sites.

‘Transferable development rights’ are a form of incentive zoning where the developer can purchase the rights to an undeveloped piece of property in exchange for the right to increase the development proposal on their site.

In every incentive zoning situation, precise assessment criteria are required to ensure the public good delivered actually benefits the public.

Examples

  • Auckland City Council 2007: http://www.aucklandcity.govt.nz/Council/documents/central/updates/t028/PM028operative.pdf (80.2 KB]. An amendment to the plan to allow floor-space bonuses for conservation of scheduled heritage buildings in the Victoria Quarter of the central city.

  • Ministry for the Environment 2005. Urban Design Case Studies: New Zealand Urban Design Protocol: Ministry for the Environment website. Vero Building – Auckland, pp 90–94. An important part of the design process was driven by the ‘bonus’ provision of the district plan for public open space and public art. The Vero Building contains a number of bonus elements, including a public plaza and works of art.

Life-cycle Cost Analysis

What it is:

The calculation of expected future operating, maintenance and replacement costs of a development to help provide a realistic design and budget estimate. The analysis can be used to evaluate the cost of a full range of projects, from a complex site through to a specific building system component.

What it’s useful for:

Encouraging sustainable development and where a developer is required to take a long term interest in a project or initiative. Important in evaluating alternative design ideas at a conceptual stage of a project. Can be implemented at any level of the design process and is an effective tool for the evaluation of existing project upgrades.

How it’s done:

Life-cycle cost analysis considers both the initial cost of development and construction, and the cost of maintaining the development over its life. A standard process involves defining the scope of the project, detailing the cost model to be used, collecting historical data/cost relationships data, and defining a project schedule, developing a cost estimate, and analysing the results.

Examples

  • Kats, Greg et al 2003. The Costs and Financial Benefits of Green Buildings: A Report to California’s Sustainable Building Task Force: http://www.usgbc.org/Docs/News/News477.pdf (3.203 KB]. This report provides a comprehensive analysis of the life-cycle costs and benefits of green buildings compared with those of conventional buildings.

  • GreenSave Calculator: http://www.greenroofs.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=626&Itemid=116. Lets you compare roofing alternatives (including green roof options) over a specific period to determine which has the lowest life-cycle cost. You can determine whether higher initial costs are justified by reducing future costs such as operating, maintenance, repair or replacement costs and/or producing additional benefits, such as energy savings. You can also see which roofs have lower initial costs but are expensive to maintain over time.

  • Vesely, E et al 2005. The economics of low impact stormwater management in practice – Glencourt Place: http://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/publications/researchpubs/Vesely_et_al_2005.pdf (443 KB). This paper compares the performance of low-impact stormwater management practices with conventional practices, it is based on the criterion of cost minimisation.

Multi-architect Project Design

Multi-architect Project Design

What it is:

An approach to the design of large development projects where a number of architects or designers independently complete the design of separate buildings.

What it’s useful for:

Useful where visual diversity and ‘fine grain’ (small building footprints and blocks with a mixture of uses and an interconnected street network) are important, particularly on very large projects where the site comprises a number of independent buildings, lots or blocks that are to be developed separately.

How it’s done:

The design for each building is usually carried out in accordance with a design brief or masterplan, which ensures coordination between adjacent sites. Designers may be selected to design particular buildings within the overall development, for example, a library or retail complex, or to focus on particular types of buildings, for example, medium-density housing. The success of multi-architect project designs is often dependent on the quality and clarity of the design brief. The brief needs to provide enough guidance to ensure coherence within the development, and enough flexibility in its interpretation to ensure the result is sufficiently diverse and avoids negating the purpose of having more than one design team.

This process is distinct from ‘multi-designer project teams’ where a number of designers combine in a single team.

Reference

Pre-application Meeting

What it is:

A meeting held between the project designer and council officers to discuss design issues before developing initial design concepts or lodging a land use or subdivision resource consent application.

What it’s useful for:

Ensuring all major design issues have been identified and addressed before any resource consent application that will be subject to design review. Applicants and local authorities benefit from gaining a better understanding of the design issues before significant cost and time has been incurred by both parties. Local authorities benefit from receiving improved applications that have a higher degree of resolution of design issues before beginning the formal consent process.

How it’s done:

A meeting is organised between the applicant and the local authority at a stage in the design process where the majority of the design issues can be discussed. The local authority should provide the full range of professional advice at the meeting so all design issues can be canvassed with all officers present. This ensures all design issues are resolved together rather than in a piecemeal fashion with one design issue being resolved to the detriment of another. In addition, applicants need to be willing to change the design in response to constructive urban design comments.

References

Examples

  • Ministry for the Environment 2005. Urban Design Case Studies: New Zealand Urban Design Protocol: Ministry for the Environment website. Northwood Residential Area – Christchurch. This five-year design process included extensive pre-application discussions between the land developer, consultants and local authority staff.

  • Ministry for the Environment 2008. Urban Design Case Studies: Changing the Subdivision Code – Kapiti District Council: Ministry for the Environment website. Pre-application meetings are a key way of working with developers to achieve quality urban design subdivision outcomes.

  • Ministry for the Environment 2008. Urban Design Case Studies: City Urban Design Strategy – Hamilton City Council: Ministry for the Environment website. Pre-application meetings have been successful in influencing the quality of proposed developments.

Project Control Group

What it is:

A group comprising representatives from all project participants, responsible for controlling and directing project delivery.

What it’s useful for:

A standard management technique used in both public and private sector projects. Project control groups provide direction to the designers, plan and monitor progress and make design decisions.

How it’s done:

A project control group includes client representatives, project management specialists, designers and cost management professionals. The group will meet regularly to plan, give direction and monitor progress. The type of project control group that focuses on overall direction, as opposed to the details of project delivery, is known as a ‘project steering group’.

Public–Private Partnership

What it is:

A formal collaboration between public and private sector interests to ensure delivery of a project where there is a clear public benefit or need for regeneration in an area.

What it’s useful for:

Producing a mutually beneficial result that neither the public or private sector could achieve alone.

How it’s done:

A public–private partnership may include assistance with funding, communication of information and advice, and coordinated management and planning. Main street programmes and town centre programmes are examples of public–private partnerships. ‘Public investment’ in this type of partnership may include purchase or development of strategic assets, or purchase of key sites to facilitate a specific type or scale of development. There may also be direct ‘financial incentives’ of grants, rates relief, waivers of development contributions and fees, land cost-write-downs, construction of project infrastructure, low-interest loans or loan guarantees.

Examples

  • 4ps Local Government Project Delivery Specialist: http://www.4ps.gov.uk/. 4ps works in partnership with all local authorities in the United Kingdom to secure funding and enhance the development and implementation of public–private partnerships.

  • Partnerships UK: http://www.partnershipsuk.org.uk. Supports and accelerates the delivery of infrastructure renewal, high-quality public services and efficient use of public assets through the public and private sectors. For example, the Partnerships for Health is a joint venture between the local Primary Care Trusts and a private sector partner, which is a new programme of investment in primary and community health care facilities.

  • Partnerships UK Project Database: http://www.partnershipsuk.org.uk/projectsdatabase/ projects-database.asp. Can be used to search for public–private partnership projects within the United Kingdom. It includes urban regeneration, transport, environmental and health
    services projects.

  • Public-Private Partnerships for the Urban Environment (PPPUE): http://www.yale.edu/ hixon/programs/pppue.html. This Yale/UNDP programme is a global, collaborative learning effort to collect, analyse and disseminate lessons learned on the use of public–private partnerships to improve the delivery of urban environmental services in developing countries.

  • The Canadian Council for Public–Private Partnerships: http://www.pppcouncil.ca/ index.asp. Fosters innovative forms of cooperation between the public sector and private sector. This website has links to project information within the transport, hospital and health care, and water and wastewater sectors.

  • The US National Council for Public–Private Partnerships: http://www.ncppp.org/. Advocates and facilitates the formation of public–private partnerships in the United States. This website has links to resources, case studies, publications and membership information.

  • United Nations Development Programme (UNDP): http://www.undp.org.np/poverty/projects/pppue/index.php?ProgramID=30. Public–private partnerships for the urban environment. This programme aims to alleviate poverty through public–private partnerships in poor cities throughout the developing world by promoting inclusive partnerships between local government, business and communities.

Regional Forum

What it is:

A forum of local and central government and private sector decision-makers that is convened to coordinate planning and infrastructure initiatives across local authority boundaries.

What it’s useful for:

Assisting and informing common local initiatives (such as growth, regeneration, transportation and infrastructure strategies) that rely on a coordinated and consistent approach across a region to succeed. Regional forums can identify, resolve and coordinate growth strategies or regeneration strategies across a region.

How it’s done:

Involves setting up an informal or formal triennial agreement between local authorities in a region on how they will work together. This is normally done in the six months after a local authority election.

Examples

  • Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy Forum: http://www.greaterchristchurch.org.nz/Forum/. A collaborative initiative between the Christchurch City Council, Selwyn and Waimakariri district councils, Environment Canterbury and Transit New Zealand. See also Ministry for the Environment 2008. Urban Design Case Studies: Urban Development Strategy – Greater Christchurch: Ministry for the Environment website.

  • Wellington Regional Strategy: http://www.wrs.govt.nz/about_us/. This strategy was developed by a committee from the nine local authorities and five representatives from the private and business sectors.

  • Western Bay of Plenty. SmartGrowth Committees: http://www.smartgrowthbop.org.nz/ smartgrowth-committees.htm. Five key groups are responsible for the implementation and management of the SmartGrowth Strategy. These include the implementation committee and the Strategic Partners Forum.

Seed Funding

What it is:

Funding made available to help start projects that are designed to benefit local communities or community groups.

What it’s useful for:

Used where there is community interest and public benefit in completing a project, but where the project is unlikely to proceed without some financial support to get it started.

How it’s done:

Seed funding is typically distributed as a grant following competitive application. Often directed at providing sufficient funding to make marginal public benefit projects viable, and to enable community groups to employ professionals to help start a project or to carry out specialist responsibilities. Grants from such a fund act as a catalyst to community groups or the private sector, that then commit their own resources to complete the project. Often administered as a ‘community projects fund’. It may also be known as ‘gap funding’.

Examples – Heritage funds

Examples – General seed funding

Special Activity Area

What it is:

A zone in, or part of, a town or city, selected on the basis of need and consistency with the wider strategic intentions of the town or city, where special public sector incentives or controls are established to encourage targeted activity types.

What it’s useful for:

Encouraging activity in areas that require private sector investment, development or regeneration. Particularly suitable for a special activity area of strategic benefit to the town or city. Can be worthwhile in areas that might not otherwise be developed in a way that is beneficial to the town or city. It may create a set of planning policies, regulations and approval criteria unique to that particular area to address a single, or series of, challenges that would otherwise remain unresolved. Special activity areas are used extensively in the United States to revitalise town centres, industrial brown field areas, and mass transit corridor nodes.

How it’s done:

Special activity areas are selected on the basis of need and consistency, with consideration given to the wider strategic intentions of a town or city. Incentives are specified to the area and may be financial in nature, or involve fast-track planning procedures that are tailored to promote the targeted special activity. A special activity area, designated for initiatives that target urban design, investment and development or regeneration, may also be known as a ‘urban priority area’. Where the primary focus is on fostering economic activity, an area may be known as an ‘enterprise zone’.

Town Centre Programme

Town Centre Programme

What it is:

The planning and coordination by an authorised manager of a range of public and private initiatives that have impacts on a town or city centre.

What it’s useful for:

Any town or city centre that requires management and improvement for ongoing viability, and with a constituency that is willing to actively support this. Used to coordinate change and maximise the benefit of initiatives within a town or city centre.

How it’s done:

A town centre programme uses a four-point management approach that involves key stakeholders of the local authority or economic development agencies, businesses, building owners and local community. The four-point approach is based on: organisation and management; physical enhancement; economic development; and marketing and promotion.

A ‘main street programme’ is a similar management process, based on a traditional shopping street or small town centre. The process is instigated with a stakeholder board or committee, usually assisted and coordinated by a main street manager.

References/examples

  • Association of Town Centre Management: http://www.atcm.org/. United Kingdom website with a network of interests and skills in town and city centres of over 10,000 leading businesses, government agencies and professions.

  • Havelock North Village Centre redevelopment: http://www.hastingsdc.govt.nz/projects/havelock/. A redevelopment project completed in 2005. Included creating distinctive design features, public art, repaving and infrastructure improvements for the Havelock North Village.

  • Kapiti Coast District Council. Town Centres: http://www.kapiticoast.govt.nz/ DistrictDevelopment/TownCentres/. Town centre redevelopment projects are currently underway in six areas on the Kapiti Coast.

  • Ponsonby Road Promotions, Auckland City: http://www.ponsonby.org.nz/prp.asp. This main street programme aims to ensure Ponsonby remains competitive with other centres, and also plays an important role in the preservation and enhancement of historic buildings.

  • Town Centres Association of New Zealand: http://www.towncentre.org.nz/. New Zealand’s national body that provides town and city centres throughout New Zealand with programmes and resource material.

  • Waitakere City Council. Town Centre Strategic Partnership Programme: http://www.waitakere.govt.nz/AbtCit/cp/towncentres.asp. A partnership between Waitakere City Council and the community that aims to identify, reinforce and promote the identity of Waitakere’s town centres.

Urban Development Corporation

What it is:

A quasi-governmental authority established to develop designated areas within towns or cities.

What it’s useful for:

In situations where conflict of interest is likely if local or central government were to be directly responsible for development, and where significant funding and consolidating land ownership are required to revitalise an economically deprived area.

How it’s done:

Specific powers can be designated to facilitate the work of an urban development corporation. Powers given to an urban development corporation can include the acquisition of land by agreement or compulsory purchase, and the vesting of public land for development. Overseas corporations have also taken on planning and plan-making powers with the resources to provide new (or to refurbish existing) infrastructure.

Examples – Australia

  • East Perth Redevelopment Authority: http://www.epra.wa.gov.au/about. An urban renewal authority in Western Australia, the role of which is to create cities that continue to flourish into the future based on good land-use principles, and attention to social, economic and environmental balance.

  • Landcom: http://www.landcom.com.au/default.aspx/. Is a leader in innovative urban design and has developed residential, commercial and industrial properties for about 30 years in New South Wales, Australia. An example is Park Central, which is Campbeltown’s first masterplanned, medium-density estate, strategically located adjacent to a regional shopping centre.

  • Redfern-Waterloo Authority, New South Wales: http://www.redfernwaterloo.nsw.gov.au/index.html. Established in 2004 as an urban renewal project in the Redfern, Waterloo, Darlington, Eveleigh areas of Sydney.

  • South Bank, Brisbane: http://www.southbankcorporation.com.au/. A 42 hectare, mixed use urban precinct and public space on the south bank of the Brisbane River. The area has evolved over 20 years, integrates with existing communities and is an iconic public space for Brisbane. It is based on sustainability principles.

  • Subiaco Redevelopment Authority: http://www.sra.wa.gov.au/subicentro. A redevelopment agency in Western Australia for an urban renewal mixed use area of housing, business and recreation.

  • Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority: http://www.shfa.nsw.gov.au/. Is one of the biggest landholders in Sydney, Australia. It is responsible for Sydney’s most historically and culturally significant waterfront locations. For example, Ballast Point will be the largest green addition to Sydney’s harbour in a century. It will feature a range of open spaces and provide increased public access to and from the water.

  • VicUrban: http://www.vicurban.com/cs/Satellite?pagename=VicUrban. Based in the State of Victoria, Australia, and is one of the land developers and facilitators of urban development in the state. It has an excellent track record in quality urban design, for example, the Melbourne docklands has attracted international interest for its modern architecture and design.

Examples – Rest of the world

  • Catalyst Corby: http://www.nndev.co.uk/. Is the urban regeneration company for Corby in Northamptonshire. Its aim is to “transform Corby into a vibrant, successful and sustainable community, providing homes, jobs and a good quality of life for a growing population”. Central projects include: creating high-quality public space, leisure and education facilities, town centre living, transformation of the shopping centre, creation of high-quality office accommodation.

  • Homes and Communities Agency: http://www.homesandcommunities.co.uk/. The Homes and Communities Agency role is to create opportunity for people to live in high quality, sustainable places. It provides funding for affordable housing, bring land back into productive use and improve quality of life by raising standards for the physical and social environment.

  • London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC): http://www.lddc-history.org.uk/. History of the regeneration work by the LDDC across the London Docklands area from 1981 to 1998.

  • The Scottish Government 2007. Best Practice in Establishing Urban Regeneration Companies in Scotland: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2007/09/20103240/0. Examines the current urban regeneration companies in Scotland, what has worked well in terms of governance and community involvement and makes policy recommendations for establishing future companies.

  • Waterfront Toronto: http://www.waterfrontoronto.ca/index.php?home=true. Established in 2001 to coordinate an integrated strategy for revitalising Toronto’s waterfront. Developments include parks, public spaces, cultural institutions, and diverse and sustainable commercial and residential areas.