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Appendix 1: New Zealand urban design review panels

1 Auckland City Council

The concept of an Urban Design panel was initially contemplated as part of Council’s growth management strategy in 2001. In 2002 it was resolved to establish a six-month trial in the Central Area. In November 2003, a review of the panel’s operation extended its scope to major developments in the isthmus and gulf islands.

2003 for central area only, later expanded to city-wide. Has reviewed almost 600 development proposals in this time.

External experts.

Professional with specialist skills in the areas of urban design, architecture, landscape architecture, development and property.

Professional institutes nominate members or they are ‘shoulder tapped’. The pool of members is approved by Council committee.

Briefings and information on district plan assessment criteria, natural justice and conflicts of interest. No specific training on urban design, reliance on panel members’ professional expertise.

Three years.


Yes. Available on the website.

Yes, urban design criteria and non-statutory Design Guides. The Council has an non-statutory Urban Design Framework, and many other strategic documents with urban design links and objectives.

Mandatory UDP review

  • Developments of 20 or more residential units in the isthmus
  • Any significant new building or alteration in the Business 1-3 or mixed use zones
  • Major scale Council projects (with a value of over $5 million), including streetscape upgrades and community facilities
  • Any significant new building or alteration within the central area.

Optional UDP review (discretion rests with a quorum of three council officers)

  • Developments of 10 or more residential units in any zone
  • Any significant new building or alteration in an area subject to a Centre Plan or special character overlay
  • Any development adjacent to or within the surrounds of a Scheduled Building
  • Integrated Housing Developments or Planned Unit Developments
  • Any significant new building or alteration within the Business 4 zone
  • Any significant new building or alteration in any business zone within 30m of a residential zone
  • Minor scale council projects, including streetscape upgrades and community facilities
  • Any significant new building or alteration in the Residential 1, 2 and 3 zones
  • Any significant new building or alteration on a site adjoining or opposite significant public open space
  • Any resource consent application raising urban design issues not covered above.

These were reviewed and revised in late 2009.


Preferably at pre-application stage, but this is not mandatory.

Whole area.

Weekly, with the ability to call extra meetings if required.

Up to three per panel.

Yes, due to volume of applications. One hour allocated, but applicants can request more.


Application form and checklist with information requirements, available on the website.

Meetings are open to the public if an application has been lodged, but confidential if at pre-application stage.

There is a core panel of six members. Quorum is four. The group manager, Urban Design is an ex-officio member following the 2009 review.

Skills Central area City-wide
  Experience in central area development Experience in intensive housing and/ or mixed-use development
Urban design One member nominated by New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) One member nominated by NZIA
Architecture At least two members nominated by NZIA Two members nominated by NZIA
Landscape architecture Alternate to third architect nominated by NZIA or New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects (NZILA) One member nominated by NZIA
Property Two members nominated by Property Council New Zealand (PCNZ) Two members nominated by PCNZ
Planning Planning expertise provided in-house by Auckland city staff, nominated consultants and members of the New Zealand Planning Institute (NZPI) serving on the panel.

Three days in advance of meeting.

Recommendations are drafted and approved at the meeting. Recommendations have a hierarchy of importance – fundamental, significant, other.

Sent to the applicant in a letter, and referred to in final planner’s report for consent.

Ideally planner meets with applicant to discuss revision of application to receive support. Applicants offered further meetings with panel if required.

Council planner present, plus Democracy Services administrative support of up to 0.5FTE for busy weeks. Administration also manages panellists in terms of panel assembly, invoicing etc.

Free to applicant, fully Council funded.

Yes. Review has just been undertaken in late 2009. It recommended changes to both the panel’s composition and the triggers required for referral.

Value of early urban design advice in development process is now well-recognised, many developers now keen to get this advice. Development industry professionals interviewed as part of 2009 review process, many were encouraged by the panel’s existence, with agreement that the panel has had a positive impact on planning and designing Auckland’s built form. Panel members have noted an increase in the quality of schemes presented for consideration. Many felt the ‘bar had been raised’ for urban design in the city.

  • Challenges in assembling a panel due to availability.
  • Change in panel membership was identified in the review as a frustration to applicants.
  • Reimbursement level can be a disincentive for some panellists.
  • Quality and timeliness of agenda material.
  • Clarity and tenor of written recommendations – some thought that the panel minutes/recommendations were not always useful, consistent, easily applied or understood. District Plan rules and criteria sometimes in conflict with better urban design outcomes – difficulty in encouraging better result if applicant wants to stick to rules.
  • Initial reluctance of developers to come before panel at an early stage in design process has now generally been overcome.

Panel will undergo regular review and changes made as required. Last round of improvements made in late 2009.

2 Manukau City Council

It was part of Manukau City Council’s response to the Ministry for the Environment Urban Design Protocol.

A review of Panels around the world and in New Zealand was undertaken. A six month trial was undertaken before Council made a final decision to establish an Urban Design Panel.

Yes it was formally established. Initially established on a six month trial basis. A review was undertaken which confirmed the Panel added value and the Council agreed to appoint a permanent design panel.

The purpose of the Urban Design Panel is to promote high quality urban design outcomes.

It was permanently established in January 2007.

Outside experts only.

Four permanent members. They are all senior practitioners drawn from landscape architecture, urban design and architecture.

Initially asked through expressions of interest.

Initial briefing on policy issues and protocols for the panel.

Contracts are reviewed annually.

Yes at $150 + GST per hour.

Yes – A Guide to the Manukau City Council Urban Design Panel.

The Manukau District Plan became operative in 2002. There are extensive general policies relating to urban design issues. There is a medium density design guide (Chapter 13).

A large number of issues, objectives and policies aim to retain amenity values within the district. These have been clubbed as performance standards.

The Council has identified its urban design action plan and urban design panel as methods for achieving the amenity objectives. There is a Design Guide for Intensive Housing and structure plans for several areas that help achieve objectives relating to amenity. Plan Changes 23, 4 and 8 propose to introduce a number of amenity provisions.

The Plan provides for mixed uses, by allowing a wide range of activities in the business zones. Plan Change 12 aims to promote a diverse range of business activities. Plan Change 23 proposes to provide for mixed uses within the Waterside Business Area. There is specific provision for large format retail activities in the Flat Bush section and assessment criteria include matters relating to urban design issues.

There are provisions in the Flat Bush section of the Plan that reward/allow increasing densities in association with open space. The Plan also allows for higher densities in the main residential zone around town centres (Business 2, 3, 4) and around transportation corridors.

There are a number of provisions that provide for a variety of housing types and section sizes. Proposed Plan Change 12 introduces a policy aimed at ensuring that new development within town centres provides for a diverse range of residential activities. Plan Changes 17, 8 and 4 propose to introduce a number of provisions to consider residential buildings in relation to the street. The Design Guide for Intensive Housing provides details on yards, setbacks etc.

There are two provisions within the Plan for the mitigation of noise. Plan Change 8 proposes to introduce a rule for activities sensitive to aircraft noise (ASAN).

There are a large number of provisions which encourage crime prevention through environmental design principles. The Council has a Crime Prevention Action Plan to implement the provisions within the Plan.

There are several provisions that aim to retain a ‘sense of place’, with special emphasis given in the Flat Bush section of the Plan. Plan Change 12 proposes to introduce a provision which specifically refers to a ‘sense of place’.

There are a high number of objectives and policies which aim to avoid the loss of heritage values. There are also a number of non-regulatory provisions provided.

There are several provisions that promote better designed streets and streetscape, open space areas associated with stormwater, utilities and streets or clear boundaries between public and private open space. These are covered by way of objectives, polices rules and assessment criteria that aim to achieve urban design issues.

There are a number of provisions in the Plan which promote walking and cycling. A number of methods such as a design code and structure plans with street layouts which achieve high levels of pedestrian and cycle permeability are referred to in the Plan.

There are a number of provisions within the Public Open Space and Flat Bush sections that facilitate green networks that link public open space or streets and other thoroughfares designed as positive spaces with multiple functions.

A large number of provisions address urban growth. Plan Change 12 proposes to introduce a number of provisions for the management of growth in Manukau.

  • Is the project a multi-unit residential development (apartments, townhouses, etc.)?
  • Is the project a mixed-use development?
  • Is the project within any of the identified Grown Centres (ie, Manukau City Centre, Old Papatoetoe, Hunters Corner, Manurewa, Mangere Town Centre, Pakuranga or Flat Bush)?
  • Is the project a major Council development (eg, community facilities, major transportation project, park development, etc.)?
  • Are there activities that may have any adverse effects on Scheduled Buildings or Objects?
  • Are there significant development modifications / infringements?


Ideally encourage applications to go to the panel at an early design stage to enable constructive comments from the panel to be taken on board for resource consents applications.


Whole TA area.

Monthly – however due to the economic slow down there has been a marked decline in applications going before the panel. There is an opportunity to call special meetings if required.


Generally a one hour limit however if projects are significant and warrant additional time, this can be accommodated.

Six copies of plans to be received a week before the Panel session.

Normally at a pre-applications stage. Resource consent applications have on occasion been considered by the Panel where they have previously not commented and where there are significant concerns from reporting officers.


Normally there are four members at a Panel meeting, with a quorum of three.

One week.

Written report with recommendations

Verbal comments are usually given at the Panel session and are followed up with a copy of minutes taken.

It is sent to the applicant for consideration and a copy is sent to the Planner.

Applicants are encouraged to return to the panel if there are substantial matters that need to be addressed.

An Urban Design Panel Co-ordinator ensures that relevant documentation is distributed to the Panellists, minutes are taken and forwarded to the required parties.

It is funded by Manukau City Council rates as a public good.

Given the relatively short time that the panel has been operating with few projects considered by the panel actually built – no review of the panel’s outcomes have been undertaken to date.

Not applicable.

Not applicable.

Not applicable.


The Panel has a relatively low profile given the small number of applications that are considered.


There is potential for the Panel advice to conflict with the planner’s recommendation on resource consent matters. This is due to the fact that the Urban Design Panel is focussing on Urban Design matters rather than a full RMA assessment.


This may need to be undertaken by the new Auckland Council after 1 November 2010.


3 Waitakere City Council

The Urban Design Review Panel was established by a condition on a consent, volunteered by the applicant. The consent relates to the land formerly occupied by the Hobsonville air base. After disposal by the Air Force, the Hobsonville Land Company (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Housing New Zealand Corporation) was formed. There is a Comprehensive Development Plan for the land, which comprises some 167 hectares of land and ultimately envisages households plus schools, shops, waterfront, industry and roads. It includes bulk and location controls.



Three members. One Council-appointed external urban designer, One applicant-appointed external urban designer, One representative from the Hobsonville Land Company.

Reliance is placed on panel members’ professional expertise.


Yes, these were produced by the applicant and approved by the council’s urban design team.

The land in question has a comprehensive development plan that includes urban design requirements.

Land use and subdivision consents inside the CDP area, anything that falls outside the rules.

The panel operates at pre-application stage.

Does the panel cover the whole TA area, or just a specific part?
If a specific part, why was there a need to focus on this particular area?

The panel only covers the land held by the Hobsonville Land Company. It is a specific parcel of land with a Comprehensive Development Plan.

How often are panel meetings held?
If they are regular, how many applications are heard per session?

When required. This is co-ordinated by the developer.

No specific requirements.

No, they are confidential.

A written report is produced.

This is supplied by the developer.

Costs lie where they fall. For example, the cost of the developer-appointed urban designer is picked up by the developer.

The panel has not been operating very long, it is considered ‘early days’ for review and monitoring. The panel seems to be effective, fostering collaboration between Council and the Hobsonville Land Company. The small number of panel members seems to be useful in ensuring consistency of advice.


4 Hamilton City Council

A desire by HCC to take a stronger and more visionary role in guiding the future of the city’s built environment. Ultimately, to deliver a city that better reflected the aspirations of HCC and the community.


Discussions held internally and externally. Review of lessons learned from other similar panels.

Council decision.

Late 2007.

HCC mechanism, but members are outside experts.

Urban Design
Landscape Architecture
Development and Property
Community and Heritage aspects

Nominations from professional institutes – decision by Council.


Initial training on process and background.

Two year term, option to renew.


Yes. (Not publicly available.)

Design Guides widely used.

Area Criteria/project type
CBD – City Centre Zone in proposed District Plan Significant building and capital projects
Community/commercial focal points in structure plan areas Public buildings, commercial, community and multi-unit residential projects
Strategic gateways to city Significant buildings in defined areas
Defined character and heritage precincts New buildings and alterations to heritage buildings and structures visible from the public domain
Subdivisions Significant new subdivisions – close to key points of interest, impacting ecological features or large suburban developments (generally >50 units)
Council capital projects Design brief, design proposals and preliminary concepts for public buildings, spaces and streetscape
Other public projects Major public works by government departments e.g. schools, health, transport


Before consent is submitted.

Entire area.

As and when necessary.

The number varies.


Yes – HCC provides guidance and information on this.



Minimum of four members.

1–2 weeks.

Recommendations letter.

Letter posted out.


Follow-up meeting with applicant.

Dependent on the recommendations.

Council officials – various aspects.

Annual budget (Council).



Ongoing, managerial review.

Yes. (Note: no further information was given about this aspect.)


No, panel functioning effectively at present.

5 Hastings City Council

The panel was established following a suggestion made to the Landmarks Committee. This committee was responsible for ‘landmark areas’ (which included both built and natural areas) and wanted some protection for them, along with objective assessment of development proposals for these areas. Quality urban design outcomes were sought. A panel was proposed, and was approved by committee.

April 2003.

Outside experts. However, the panel functions more in the manner of an ‘internal design review panel’.

Mostly architects.

By ‘shoulder tapping’.

No specific additional training is given, reliance is placed on the professional expertise and experience of panel members.

The panel members do not have contracts, and are not paid.

Two parts of the District Plan contain UD requirements – the Commercial Zones (for large format retail) and the Central Character Precinct. The District Plan identifies use of the panel for UD assessment under the methodology for these zones.

Any applications inside the Commercial Zones or Central Character precinct, although the panel is able to consider city-wide projects if required

Early on, preferably at the pre-application stage.

Not regularly – as and when required, when applications are received. Probably anywhere between 2 and 5 meetings per year.

Not relevant.

No specific requirements. The authority already holds all information electronically. The applicant may be asked to prepare a Google Sketchup representation.

Meetings are confidential and the applicant is not present.

There are five people available to sit on the panel – three usually sit. As few as one can be used.

Written notes are produced. There may be modifications to the Sketchup plan. The panel has in the past done some indicative design work. After the meeting the planner goes back to talk to the applicant at a follow-up meeting.

Full admin support – a PA for minutes/notes.

Fully Council funded. (Note: panel members are not paid so costs to Council are not great.)

No formal review/monitoring.

Developers have told architects they support the panel. The council uses ‘good examples’ in the public forum.

  • Consistency is ensured by using a small pool of the same people.
  • Management difficulties can arise.
  • Main issues to arise relate to conflicts of interest (small town scenario).

6 Nelson City Council / Tasman District Council

There was concern about poor development / urban design outcomes in the district, with particular reference to supermarkets.

December 2009.

Outside experts.

Panel members will be selected from the following criteria:

  1. A good understanding of urban design principles and best practice; and
  2. Recognised qualifications, experience and standing in their relevant professions; and
  3. Previous experience in sitting on urban design panels; and
  4. A general understanding of the Councils’ strategies and policies and the relevant Resource Management Plan; and
  5. An understanding of the interrelationship of arts, heritage and cultural values with urban design; and
  6. A general understanding of the Resource Management Act.

At the moment the pool contains eleven members. Two members of the panel pool are required to come from outside the Nelson region.

Expressions of interest from relevant professional institutes and from the wider community. Members are approved by Council.

Reliance is placed on professional expertise. There was a session at the start that covered expectations and orientation.

Appointed for an initial period of 12 months, after which their membership is reviewed.


Yes. $150/hour with a maximum of 5 hours per meeting. Travel expenses paid for those from outside the Nelson region.

Yes. Will be reviewed after twelve months.

There are limited non-statutory design guides, objectives and policies related to subdivision and the protection of iconic/natural landscapes. Not all town centres are covered. Main relevant objectives for each of the districts are outlined in Appendices C and D of Terms of Reference.

  • Developers are encouraged to come to the Council to see whether a project should be considered.
  • Any capital project that has significant urban design considerations.
  • Panel services offered to institutions and government departments, developers of comprehensive and compact residential developments, developers of buildings in the commercial, mixed business, tourist services or central business zones and in township gateway areas.
  • Attendance is voluntary.
  • Triggers will be reviewed after the trial period.


Preferably at pre-application stage, but this is not mandatory.


Covers Nelson City area and Tasman District areas. Was seen as efficient to cover both areas with one panel due to volume of consents and issues to be considered.

As and when required. There have been three since December 2009.

At this stage, 1-2 per meeting.

Checklist, available online.

No – they are confidential.

Ideally four, with a quorum of three.


Recommendations are drafted at the meeting – a consensus is required. Written recommendations are done by a Council officer (a template is used), sent to the applicant within five days of the hearing. Recommendations are treated as confidential unless the developer agrees otherwise. Report also circulated to all panel members.

A monitoring form is sent to applicants with the Panel’s report.

A hearings’ advisor. There is also a planner present/available. Agendas and administration are the responsibility of the Council hosting the meeting.

Council-funded. This will be reviewed after a year.

Too early in the operation of the panel to have public feedback.

  • Consistency of advice
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Timeframes for assembling the panel – difficult when members coming from long distance
  • Mismatch between District Plan criteria and recommendations of panel
  • Problems with Council officers in terms of interpretation of the panel’s advice (particularly the weight given to urban design issues) when the report is drafted.

Review to take place after one year.

7 Christchurch City Council

The recognition that the use of panels internationally has demonstrated that they are a valuable tool to promote the development of a high quality urban environment.

Discussed at a seminar in August 2006.

By a Council resolution on 4 October 2007 for a three year trial period.

2008 – has been running 2.5 years in May 2010.

Outside experts, with council officer support.

Urban design, architecture, landscape architecture, development and property.

Drawn from nominations from professional institutes. Skilled individuals from outside institutions may also be appointed. Each panel to have one expert in each of UD, architecture and development. Other experts (eg, landscape architecture, heritage, iwi issues, ecology or the arts) may be co-opted to sit on the panel as required.

What training do panel members receive?

There was a day-long training session at the outset of the trial. Additional training provided as/when required, particularly in response to specific issues.

3 years.


Yes, available on the website.

Urban design plan changes and design guidelines. The role of UD is also recognised in central city revitalization and other capital projects.

Proposals requiring resource consents that are located within the four Avenues (all zones) or any land zoned L3 or Business 2 (suburban malls). Within these criteria, further triggers are:

  • Multi unit residential of 5 units or more
  • Multi unit commercial of 3 units or more
  • Any building of gross floor area (GFA) 1500m2 or greater
  • Any building adjoining a site containing any items on the ‘List of Protected Buildings, Places and Objects’
  • Any building adjoining any Conservation or Open Space Zone.

Any CCC capital project with a value of $5m or greater, which is intended for public use or to which the public have regular access.

Any of the following, in any zone:

  • Hospitals
  • Retirement villages
  • Elderly persons housing, where a multi unit development of 5 units or more is proposed.

Yes. Applications for the panel should be submitted two weeks before the meeting.

Prefer involvement at pre-application stage, but the panel also carries out post-application review.

Specific to zones and types of activity, as well as to certain areas of the City.

Usually one, sometimes two.

Minimum of one hour per applicant.



Pool of up to 18 panellists. Ideally four, quorum of three. Core Panel to ensure consistency of recommendations.

One week before the meeting.

Decisions made by consensus. Written report, with recommendations composed in committee. There is no limit to the number of times a proposal can be resubmitted.

Panel recommendations are usually incorporated into planner’s report. Panel’s recommendations circulated to applicant and reporting planner within a week of the meeting.

Council officers providing secretariat support, advice on regulatory matters and communication channels. Minutes of the meeting prepared, and reviewed by Panel convenor.

Fully Council funded for the trial period.

Trial will be reviewed in 2010.

  • Positive – applicants like the panel because it turns the discussion from 2-way (council-applicant) into three-way, with the benefit of the third party being a panel of independent experts.
  • Supported by the relevant professional bodies.
  • Consistency is important, particularly if applicants are returning a proposal to the panel.
Sometimes the Panel strays towards telling an applicant what they think they should do, or tries to redesign a project.


Review will occur in 2010.


8 Akaroa Design and Appearance Advisory Committee

This a long-running community based panel that operates in the area formerly covered by the Banks Peninsula District Council and is now administered by the Christchurch City Council.

Akaroa’s Civic Trust was formed in 1970, as a ‘daughter’ to the Christchurch Civic Trust. The Civic Trust was instrumental in the Akaroa Plan having Design and Appearance controls, operative some time around 1976-78. The Design and Appearance Committee was written into the plan.


A member of the Community Board, a Council-appointed consultant (architect), a Civic Trust representative, a consultant appointed by the Civic Trust, a 2nd architect (in reserve), with the Chair of the Community Board (ex officio). The composition of the panel has always been a mix of experts and lay people. Council planners are present to advise the panel, and the Historic Places Trust often have a representative present at meetings for technical advice.

Selected by CCC. Shoulder-tapping.

Training half-day seminar recently held. It included briefing on planning framework, discussion of issues that have occurred in the past, and looked at examples.

Three years.

Yes, $150/meeting plus travel.

Yes. Publicly available.

Design and appearance controls for specific areas.


Resource consent for any exterior building work (existing building) or any new building within the areas of Akaroa that are subject to control.

Yes, in theory.

Highly preferable to appear at pre-application stage.

Proposed plan has controls only over older part of town, the foreshore and some of the valley flats. Now there are improved Design and Appearance guidelines in the plan, and strengthened objectives and policies.

As and when required – maybe six per year. The panel can operate on the Council’s monthly committee meeting cycle, maybe one per two months is held to discuss Design and Appearance.

No. Just the type of information that would be submitted for a resource consent.

Yes, and proceedings are subject to Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act since the panel is a Council committee.



A written letter to the applicant saying whether the panel supports the project or not. Advisory only, no statutory weight. There is no limit to the number of times an applicant can return to the panel for advice.

A secretary and community board advisor.

Free service to applicant. Fully Council funded. (In addition, no fees are charged by the Council for resource consents relating to Design and Appearance only.)

Review is currently underway – a meeting to discuss the panel will be held in June 2010. A particular focus will be the issue of the panel’s meeting being fully public. The review will involve future of panel, composition etc.

Akaroa has two ‘faces’ – underneath it is a conservative rural service town, but it is a tourist town on surface. There is a mix of people. There has been tension between those who see urban design issues as ‘extras’ and those who advocate for heritage and character values.

There is a strong private property rights lobby, especially in the rural community. This sometimes clashes with the advisory committee, but understanding is changing, particularly following a recent waterfront redevelopment that introduced generic design elements and met with public comment about the importance of preserving Akaroa’s special character.

  • The Panel’s Design and Appearance advice was initially given through the Building Consent process, from the point of what was a feasible building solution, as well as design. This legacy has haunted committee somewhat. Now this has changed and the advice is given for Resource Consents but it has taken some time to re-educate the committee.
  • The public nature of meetings raises problems with confidentiality of projects and proceedings. Also, ideally the panel would like to deliberate in a free and frank fashion, but this is often not possible. It would be undesirable for the applicant to see divisions or disagreement within the panel.
  • Other issues to be discussed during the review are: the debate about urban design is becoming more technical, the pool of panellists is very small (which is preferred for continuity reasons) but seasoned advice is required based on experience of Akaroa and its special characteristics. Architects come from Christchurch, there is a need for them to keep up to date with Akaroa issues.

9 Queenstown-Lakes District Council

Two panels are operated: Queenstown and Wanaka.

Initially set up to provide UD advice on council capital and policy projects but the role was extended in 2005 to include review of private development proposals.

By a report to Council.

2004, with expansion of its function in 2005.

Outside experts.

Both panels have a pool of experts available, from the following backgrounds:


  • Urban Design
  • Architecture
  • Landscape Architect
  • Planner
  • Property Development
  • Crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED).

At May 2010 the Queenstown pool comprised 18 members and the Wanaka pool had 12 members. There is only one member who is common to both panels, all others are specific to each area.

A designated Council Officer is in attendance. At least 2 community representatives are also appointed as part of the pool for each panel. Additional heritage expertise can be added if required.

If the meeting occurs post-lodgement, a council planner attends. At pre-application stage, the designated Council Office may invite a council planner to attend, for giving advice only. Councillors and/or Community Board members can attend, ex officio.

Nominations and expressions of interest from the general public (through local media) and from relevant professional institutes and bodies. Direct invitation to suitably qualified professionals also used. Criteria for selection are on the website.


Transparent application process involving Councillors. Formal selection criteria have been drafted. A Chair for each panel is selected by the CEO.

Reliance is placed on panel members’ professional expertise.

Two-yearly review of panel members. Panel members can express interest in being removed from the pool, or continuing.


Yes, a set rate per meeting plus additional for long meetings, plus expenses.

Yes. Last updated in 2008. Panel members must also sign a Code of Conduct.

Projects that:

  • Have the potential to significantly impact on the quality of urban design in the area
  • Are in the town centre zone with frontage onto a street, lane or other public place
  • Include three or more residential units
  • Are Council capital projects
  • Are either a Council or privately initiated plan change
  • Are consents which have the recommendation of the processing planner for review by the Panel.


Early in the concept stage is preferred, but the panel also gives advice at pre-application stage.

Two panels each cover a specific ward.

Approximately fortnightly, for each panel.

No more than two per session.

Not strictly enforced, but it is expected that each application will take 2-2½ hours. For large/complex Council initiated projects or when evaluating proposed plan changes, the format can be expanded into a workshop.

Yes. Outlined on QLDC website, very specific. Must be provided to the council six working days in advance of the panel meeting. Panel procedures are on the website.


They are expected to attend. The project designer(s) are advised to attend. Deliberations are held after they leave.

Quorum of 4. If only 3 can be obtained, the applicant is given the discretion to decide whether to proceed.

Agenda circulated 4–5 days in advance, with A3 plans where possible.

Deliberations on private projects are held after the applicant leaves. Deliberations on public projects may be held with the council representative and/or planner present.

Recommendations are agreed during the deliberation period. A report is prepared by the designated Council officer, or the Chair, and the draft report circulated to panel members for approval. Final report is then sent out.

Recommendations are either ‘support’ or ‘non-support’. For non-support response, the panel may offer suggestions for improvement to the design. The proposal can be re-submitted if this option is taken up. Consistency of panel members is aimed for in the latter situation.

There is a standard report template, and reports should be issued within 5 working days.

The advice is a recommendation. It can be taken into account in RMA statutory processes.

A council administration officer.

If a private applicant submits at concept stage, council covers the cost. If a design has proceeded to an advanced stage or an application has been lodged, there is a fixed fee of $500. Other costs covered by council.

  • A standard survey form is distributed to all applicants with the recommendations.
  • Ongoing monitoring of the panel’s recommendations against final designs is undertaken, so that the panel’s ability and extent of influence can be determined.
  • Key urban design issues for the district are identified through the panel process. Links are made through to monitoring the district plan in terms of urban design outcomes.

In general, the panel is operating well and is effective.

There are limited people available with relevant urban design qualifications and experience.

The panel has recently undergone review.