What is your vision for the city and does it include urban design, architectural, heritage, and planning policies?
Here’s what I said in my opening speech at the Local Government conference earlier this week:
“We are living through very interesting times. But the outcome will be that this great place, built in an extraordinary natural setting, will become a truly great international city within the next decade and beyond.
Simply requiring that all future built development will reflect the stunning quality of the natural environment will start to transform this city, and local peoples’ pride in it. But much remains to be done. “
I am really impressed with the quality of some recent developments in Auckland. Two of them –Ironbank on Karangahape Rd, and the refurbished De Bretts Hotel in High Street- won Urban Design Awards from the City recently.
But just as important are the upgrades of public space that have also been undertaken, like St Patricks Square, and like Queen Street and many other recent contributions dotted around the city. These all show the great potential of our creative community. Together, great buildings, great streets and public spaces, and transformational projects like an integrated waterfront development will combine to transform this extraordinary city.
As we grow and change though we have to do a far better job of preserving our heritage. I believe we’ve made good progress in increasing protection for our built heritage –far too much of which we have already lost- and we are taking steps now to do a better job of preserving the volcanic cones and other aspects of our cultural heritage.
So I see the quality of our built environments matching and as valued as our extraordinary natural environment.
What are your urban design, architectural, heritage, and planning policies? How important is this to you?
The Spatial plan will be one of the main focuses of the Mayoral Office. This Plan for the future of Auckland must embody our aspirations for a stunning city that protects its unique heritage and the quality of life of the many different communities that make Auckland so unique.
I would like to see the principle of good urban design under-pinning the Spatial Plan and everything that new Council does. We need to set an example with the Council’s own activities (including the hugely significant impacts of the Transport and Waterfront Development CCOs) and roll out an “urban Design Panel” approach across the whole region to ensure the best possible outcomes city wide.
During future Resource Management Act reviews I will be lobbying Central Government to ensure sufficient weighting is given to Urban Design Panel recommendations in the future regulatory environment.
I am exploring the concept being advocated by the NZIA at a central Government level of a “City Architect” charged with advising the Mayor on architecture and design. I will ensure that the design and architecture communities are engaged on issues like the integrated plan for the waterfront.
I am committed to seeing more resources for protecting our heritage, including our volcanic cones and buildings. I am also supportive of bringing a historic ferry –like the Kestrel, currently in Tauranga- back to the Waitemata Harbour. Preserving the uniqueness and character of places from Wellsford to Maraetai will be critical to the success of the new Council. Initiatives such as restoring the historic ferry run from Onehunga to Waiuku could help to revitalise town centres like Waiuku and add to the region’s tourism offering.
What mechanisms and funding will you put in place to give effect to these policies?
Council must set an example with its own projects that build better places. This requires resources but over time there needs to be a programme rolled out across a Greater Auckland that sees upgrades in all town centre that need them. Apart from Council setting an example and leading the way, there needs to be a fair regulatory regime in place that encourages good design and incentivises developments that help to create to a better city. The regulatory regime –reflected in the Spatial Plan- needs to be complemented by financial and time incentives where appropriate (for example for heritage retention or eco-friendly buildings or quality architecture) and by non-financial assistance in the form of advice and information. We need a Council and a community culture that actively looks for solutions and delivering the best outcomes for the city. We have to recognise that Council is only one party in building a fantastic city, however, and that private owners and communities also have a role in ensuring that we build a city that we can all be proud of.