View all publications

A survey of local government authorities urban design capability

Publication date:  September 2006
Publication reference number:  No number

This independent research report prepared for the Ministry by Research New Zealand details the results of the Local Government Urban Design Skills Survey undertaken during May and June 2006. In recognition of the key role local government plays in shaping our towns and cities, the purpose of this research was to determine the current level and extent of urban design skills, experience and knowledge in councils across New Zealand.

Snapshot of findings

  • The results highlight that the importance placed on urban design by councils is variable. In general, metropolitan and provincial councils place greater importance on urban design than regional and rural councils.
  • Less than half of the respondents indicated that urban design concepts influenced new council policies, or that elected representatives and senior management supported urban design, or that urban design principles were incorporated in council policy documents such the long term council community plan.
  • Urban design practitioners in councils tend to be generalists rather than specialists, and relatively few have specific urban design qualifications. It is difficult to attract specialists to New Zealand. 
  • Most councils do not have a specific urban design team or section and the number of people who are encouraged to have an understanding of urban design is small.
  • There is a significant use of external contractors and consultants by councils to provide urban design expertise and advice.
  • Most methods of keeping up-to-date with urban design issues are mostly passive eg, reading books and periodicals, using the internet.