One urban design sub-criterion was addressed in all of the 25 plans assessed.
The following urban design sub-criteria were addressed by more than 75 per cent of all the plans assessed:
The inclusion of several of these is not surprising because they are matters specifically identified in various parts of the RMA. For example, both regional councils and territorial authorities are required to avoid or mitigate natural hazards under sections 30 and 31. Therefore, it is to be expected that all the plans would deal with this.
The matters of national importance in section 6 of the RMA were also reflected in several of the character and heritage sub-criteria in the plans assessed. Under section 6, all councils must ‘recognise and provide for’:
Similarly, the maintenance and enhancement of amenity values is a matter all councils must ‘have particular regard’ to under section 7(c) of the RMA.
As well as being in section 6, both regional councils and territorial authorities have various functions pertaining to indigenous biological diversity under sections 30 and 31 of the RMA.
Under each population-based category (metropolitan, provincial, rural), the regions or districts with the highest populations had the highest percentage of urban design sub-criteria provisions in their planning documents as illustrated in Table 1 below.
|Category||Name of document||Population||Percentage of sub-criteria addressed|
|Regional||Auckland Regional Policy Statement||1,300,000||47|
|Metropolitan||Manukau City District Plan||330,000||88|
|Provincial||Tasman Resource Management Plan||47,400||88|
|Rural||Rangitikei District Plan||14,700||58|
The more populous districts were also more likely to have introduced plan changes that address urban design issues. These include four metropolitan councils (Manukau, Rodney, Tauranga and Wellington), and two of the three largest provincial councils (Kapiti and Papakura). None of the smaller, rural councils have initiated any urban design related plan changes. This trend likely reflects an increased pressure for urban growth in larger urban areas, compared with less development pressure in smaller towns.
Most of the councils that had initiated urban growth related plan changes did so in response to a growth strategy at the regional or sub-regional scale. These include:
There is an increasing trend towards the use of non-statutory urban growth strategies in high-growth population areas. Growth strategies are long-term strategies that provide a comprehensive spatial framework for managing an area’s growth. They can be used to inform RMA documents (as seen in this research), as well as other council plans such as long term council community plans, urban design strategies and regional land transport strategies.
Further information on the use of growth strategies can be found in the Urban Design Toolkit. A case study of the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy can also be found in Urban Design Case Studies: Local Government. These documents are available on the Ministry for the Environment's website.