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About the Urban Design Toolkit

The Urban Design Toolkit is a compendium of tools that can be used to facilitate high-quality urban design. For some, the Toolkit will provide an important resource, assisting them in the application of quality urban design projects. For others, the Toolkit may provide increased insight into the breadth and depth of urban design and a starting point in identifying how to achieve quality design. The Toolkit includes a wide range of tools that are typically used by a number of different professions, both in New Zealand and overseas. The bringing together of these elements into one resource will enable a broader understanding of potential tools and provide a wider knowledge base to different professions, New Zealand Urban Design Protocol signatories and sector organisations.

What’s New in the Third Edition?

This third edition of the Urban Design Toolkit contains 10 new tools and well over 100 new examples and references from New Zealand and overseas.

Three new research and analysis tools have been added to section 1:

  • assessment of environmental effects

  • social impact assessment

  • transport impact assessment.

Seven new planning and design tools have been added to section 4:

  • asset management plan

  • growth strategy

  • heritage strategy

  • transport strategy

  • travel plans

  • urban design action plan

  • walking and cycling strategy.

A variety of new examples and references have been added throughout to existing tools. Section 4 contains most of the new examples. These are largely New Zealand based and include community plans, non-statutory design guides, growth strategies, urban design frameworks and urban design strategies. Section 5 also includes new examples of implementation tools, for example, for seed funding and urban development corporations.

Information from an appendix has been shifted to section 3 under the tool ‘Urban design websites’. This covers general websites that promote and provide information on urban design.

The Urban Design Toolkit and the New Zealand Urban Design Protocol

This Urban Design Toolkit supports the implementation of the New Zealand Urban Design Protocol. The Protocol, launched in 2005, is a voluntary commitment by central and local government, property developers and investors, design professionals, educational institutes and other groups to create quality urban design through undertaking specific urban design actions. The collective actions that individual signatories take will, together, make a significant difference to the quality and success of urban design in our towns and cities.

The Urban Design Toolkit is one of several supporting resources available to help signatories to the Protocol, and others involved in urban design, to create high-quality urban design outcomes. Other resources supporting the New Zealand Urban Design Protocol include the Urban Design Action Pack, Urban Design Case Studies and The Value of Urban Design.

What are Urban Design Tools?

Urban design tools are specific techniques that can be applied at appropriate stages in the design or project planning process to facilitate quality outcomes. These tools can help in understanding the urban context, encouraging community involvement, increasing the understanding of urban design issues, describing intended design outcomes, establishing design processes, and organising people and resources. They can be used either individually or collectively in achieving quality urban design outcomes.

Urban design is a collaborative and multi-disciplinary process. It generally involves a large number of people, from the initial concept phase through to implementation and ongoing management. Several legislative tools, including the Resource Management Act 1991, the Local Government Act 2002, and the Land Transport Management Act 2003, influence urban design. The urban design tools can help produce statutory and non-statutory plans and strategies under these statutes.

This Urban Design Toolkit has been designed to help those involved in every stage of the process to work together more effectively, by describing a wide variety of tools used commonly in urban design, and by providing a common vocabulary for talking about urban design issues. Judicious selection and skilled application of appropriate tools and techniques will help achieve high-quality urban design in our towns and cities. However, no tool, process or programme can substitute for professional experience and the commitment of the people involved in generating creative, high-quality urban design solutions.

How to Use the Urban Design Toolkit

Although you may read this Toolkit in one go, you are more likely to dip in and out of it looking for a specific tool or suite of tools that can help you with an urban design project. To enable this, the Toolkit has been arranged into discrete sections.

The tools have been grouped into five sections reflecting the life-cycle stages of most urban design projects. These are:

  • research and analysis tools for understanding the urban context

  • community participation tools for encouraging community involvement and informing initiatives

  • raising awareness tools for increasing understanding of urban design

  • planning and design tools for describing intended design outcomes

  • implementation tools for establishing processes and organising people and resources.

For each tool, there is a detailed explanation on what it is, what it’s useful for and how it’s done. References and examples are provided where the actual tool has been applied in a project. These include references to websites, articles and publications that describe the tool, the theory behind it, and examples related to its application. New Zealand references or examples are provided wherever possible.

It should be noted that it was not possible to include every tool related to urban design in this Toolkit. For example, we have not included specialised planning, public participation, project management tools and specialist professional tools. Nor have we included tools relating to visual assessment, project management, or financial modelling.

The underlined words throughout the document are links to tools that are available in the Toolkit.

Words in quotation marks are alternative names for, or particular components of, the tools.