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Resource material › Building Sustainable Urban Communities › 7. Appendices

(Building Sustainable Urban Communities - discussion document)

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International Urban Development Models

urban development authorities
United Kingdom
International examples of sustainable development projects
Milestones in urban development

urban development authorities

In several countries, including Australia, urban development authorities undertake sustainable urban development. An urban development authority is a public sector company or authority created to co-ordinate and enable urban development in a specified area or areas. urban development authorities are set up to promote and achieve sustainable urban development outcomes in strategic or complex urban greenfields or brownfields projects.

Most international urban development authorities are government-owned companies, with direct or indirect access to special powers (usually constrained to use in specific places) allowing them to compulsorily acquire land, streamline regulatory and planning processes, or apply levies and other financial instruments. Projects undertaken by these urban development authorities can be 5 to 20 years or more long, and vary in size from a few hectares to several hundred hectares, including:

  • remediating and developing contaminated industrial sites for new uses
  • developing new suburbs in urban fringe areas
  • undertaking large-scale redevelopments of neighbourhoods containing significant proportions of social housing reaching the end of its life cycle
  • redeveloping town centres and associated commercial, residential and industrial precincts
  • undertaking large-scale redevelopment of areas around transport nodes to increase public transport patronage by creating developments with an increased mix of uses, at higher density and with affordable housing.

International urban development authority models generally rely heavily on injections of public land and/or funding to provide the initial capital to undertake planning and land development. Officials have noted that existing urban development authority models examined have:
  • struggled to achieve full government co-ordination
  • found it hard to reconcile the concerns of existing residents with the needs of the future community they were planning for
  • indicated that a less buoyant market might slow projects down.

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The Australian Federal Government announced in April 2008 that it would establish and resource a Major Cities Unit within the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government to provide a more co-ordinated and integrated approach to urban development. A strong relationship will be developed between this unit and Infrastructure Australia, a new body charged with prioritising major investment in infrastructure across the country.

In recent years, some state governments in Australia (New South Wales, Victoria) have established growth management agencies that work closely with their Departments of Planning to manage the planning and infrastructure co-ordination for the release of land areas for development around major cities. Growth boundaries are used by those state governments to manage urban growth through infill and intensification, and at the city boundary.

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    United Kingdom

    In the UK, English Partnerships is the national regeneration agency, helping the Government to support high-quality sustainable growth in England. It is responsible for land acquisition and assembly, and major development projects, alone or in joint partnership with other agencies and with private sector developers. The Housing Corporation is the national government agency that funds new affordable housing and regulates housing associations in England.

    Urban Regeneration Companies have been set up in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland over the last nine years to champion and stimulate new investment in areas of economic decline and to co-ordinate plans for their regeneration and redevelopment. In England, Urban Regeneration Companies are independent companies established by the relevant Local Authority and Regional Development Agency (which has an economic development focus on a regional level), with the aim of uniting public and private-sector partners. They work alongside English Partnerships and other local stakeholders including employers, amenity groups and community representatives. These Urban Regeneration Companies have proved successful in attracting private investment into targeted areas and in coordinating economic development delivery and funding.

    In January 2007, the UK government announced proposals to bring together the delivery functions of the Housing Corporation, English Partnerships and parts of the Department for Communities and Local Government to form a new unified housing and regeneration agency, the Homes and Communities Agency (initially announced as ‘Communities England’), which is likely to become operational during 2008 or 2009.

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    International examples of sustainable urban development projects

    Links to some international examples of successful initiatives using urban redevelopment agencies are provided on the discussion document website. These examples include: Redfern-Waterloo and CityWest projects (Sydney); Docklands and Dandenong projects (Melbourne); Playford North, Mawson Lakes and Westwood projects (Adelaide); Claisebrook Cove, Riverside, Subiaco-Centro, and Northbridge projects (Perth, West Australia); Kelvin Grove, South Bank and Varsity Lakes projects (Brisbane); False Creek and Granville Island projects (Vancouver), Toronto Waterfront project; Derby, Leicester, North Northants, Nottingham, and Sheffield projects (UK).

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    Milestones in urban development

    1989The structural arrangements of Local Government in New Zealand were significantly reformed when around 700 councils and special purpose bodies were amalgamated to create 86 local authorities. There are now 85 local authorities, made up of 12 regional councils and 73 territorial authorities (city/district councils).
    1991Resource Management Act 1991 (consolidated January 2008) passed, promoting the sustainable management of natural and physical resources. Since its enactment in 1991, the Resource Management Act has undergone several reviews and amendments.
    1999Auckland Regional Growth Strategy adopted, setting a vision for how the Auckland region could manage growth sustainably for the next 50 years.
    2002Local Government Act 2002 passed (replacing the 1974 Act), providing a framework and powers for local authorities to promote the well-being of their communities, taking a sustainable development approach. New Zealand Transport Strategy adopted, setting out the government’s vision of an affordable, integrated, safe, responsive and sustainable transport system by 2010. This was updated in 2008.
    2003 to 2006New Zealand Sustainable Development Programme of Action undertaken, focused on quality and allocation of fresh water, energy, sustainable cities, and investing in child and youth development. Auckland Sustainable Cities Programme undertaken as a pilot for sustainable development and focused on dealing with some key issues facing the Auckland region.
    2004Local Government (Auckland) Amendment Act 2004 passed, aiming to improve the integration of the Auckland regional land transport system and the management of land transport funding and assets for the Auckland Region.
    2005New Zealand Urban Design Protocol launched, aiming to make our towns and cities more successful by using quality urban design. The Protocol currently has 158 signatories from central and local government, professional and private sector organisations.
    2007Wellington Regional Strategy adopted, providing a sustainable economic growth strategy to 2025 and aiming to enhance Wellington’s ‘regional form’ by addressing the issues that contribute to quality of life, such as transport, housing, urban design and open spaces. Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy launched, providing a clear strategic direction for Greater Christchurch over the next 35 years. Auckland Regional Growth Strategy Review (entitled Growing Smarter) completed, reporting on implementation progress since 1999 and the challenges ahead. SmartGrowth Strategy (revised version) launched, providing a growth management strategy and implementation plan for the Western Bay of Plenty over the next 50 years. New Zealand Energy Strategy adopted, setting out the government's vision for a sustainable, low-emissions energy system by 2050 and the implementation plan. Auckland Sustainability Framework endorsed, aiming to help the Auckland region secure a better quality of life and create a sustainable future.
    2008One Plan for Auckland approved for consultation, providing a single, strategic framework and plan of action for the Auckland region. It aims to set a clear direction for how the region plans to achieve its aspirations for sustainable development.

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