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Resource material › Building Sustainable Urban Communities › 3. Strengthening existing tools and ways of working

(Building Sustainable Urban Communities - discussion document)

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Working together
Building capacity
Existing regulatory practice and other tools
Will we need more than this
Opportunities for Maori
    As a first step in dealing with these barriers and implementation difficulties, it is important to see if there are different ways of working or using existing tools that would help organisations undertaking sustainable urban development projects.

    Looking at overseas initiatives and the New Zealand situation, it seems that some progress in dealing with the barriers and implementation difficulties could be achieved by:

    • finding ways for different organisations (such as public utility operators, developers and local and central government) which plan, fund and/or provide important infrastructure, to work together more effectively
    • building capacity and capability in sustainable urban development
    • improving the way existing regulatory tools are used
    • improving or adapting existing tools.

    Working together

    There is increasing recognition that working closely together to better co-ordinate planning and integrate infrastructure provision at a more local level for place-building and development may have its advantages.

    The local government sector naturally tends to focus on place-building at the local level. In contrast, central government, large infrastructure providers and public utility network operators tend to have a wider national or network view, often across local and regional boundaries. At times, the difference in focus results in different preferred options and priorities for development.

    There may be scope to continue to improve communication and interaction between the different players. For example, many local and regional councils have worked with their communities to develop metropolitan and local urban development strategies and proposals for sustainable urban development.

    More support may be required for central and local government, infrastructure providers and utility operators to ensure their planning and programming for investment and delivery is integrated with, and supports, those urban development strategies.

    This would include greater involvement by those agencies in developing the strategies, including processes to resolve situations when different planning assumptions or commitment levels to a place-based approach occur.

    Building capacity

    International experience shows that sustainable urban development relies on a range of specialised design and implementation skills, as well as technical and community development expertise. In New Zealand, these skills and expertise are generally spread across central and local government, and the development sector. Capacity building will be required across local and central government to ensure urban development needs are understood, to build the skill and expertise base, and to concentrate them around particular projects. This could be helped by a range of options including:

    • collecting, analysing and providing information on sustainable urban issues
    • developing guidance notes, case studies, and good-practice examples, and creating forums for sharing experiences and expertise
    • supporting recruitment and training initiatives to address skill gaps
    • creating a shared services company or initiative for central and local government to pool and share expertise for use in projects.

    Existing regulatory practice and other tools

    In some situations it may be possible to improve the way existing regulatory tools (such as designation, development control or plan change processes) are used.

    Opportunities also exist for local and central government to work together to develop or adapt a range of non-regulatory and local regulatory tools to support sustainable urban development. These would be available to local government, utility providers and other key urban development stakeholders. Examples might include:

    • publishing good-practice guidance material
    • developing model district plan provisions capable of being adapted for specific local circumstances (to encourage public transport-oriented, higher-density areas)
    • using existing consultation or planning mechanisms more effectively to support sustainable urban development.

    Will we need more than this?
    • Over time, improvements to the areas outlined above — including better co-ordination, increasing capacity and capability in the public sector, and enhancing the range of non-regulatory and local regulatory tools — could help deal with many of the barriers and implementation difficulties.

    In situations without a high degree of strategic importance or urgency or that are not overly complex, these sorts of improvements to existing tools and ways of working may be enough to make satisfactory progress.

    Based on New Zealand and overseas experience, however, these measures alone are unlikely to deal with the more pressing opportunities and barriers being experienced in complex and strategically important urban development project locations. A wider approach may be required in these situations.

    • What can be done within existing regulations and legislation to deal with these barriers? Please outline your ideas for:
      • better ways of working
      • new non-regulatory tools
      • ways to use or change existing regulatory tools to make them more effective.

    • Are changes to existing regulation and legislation necessary to achieve sustainable urban development? Please describe any changes you think are necessary.

    Opportunities for iwi Maori

    Many iwi are working to improve the social and economic well-being of their members, and are actively using their land holdings to create opportunities to do this. A strong alignment is likely between the objectives of sustainable urban development projects and iwi development projects. This presents opportunities for urban development organisations and iwi to work together to achieve specific outcomes. The nature of these partnerships will differ depending on the way in which the partners contribute to the project.

    In some areas, mana whenua may already be undertaking social or economic development programmes for their hapu or iwi. The social or economic development components of sustainable urban development projects should be assessed to determine the opportunities available to maximise the impact of these programmes.

    • Are there any barriers to iwi Maori becoming involved in partnerships to deliver sustainable urban development projects? Please describe these barriers.

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