Panel aims for quality urban design

An Urban Design Panel set up by the Christchurch City Council is seeking high quality urban design outcomes through free independent design reviews.

The panel comprises 12 experts in architecture, landscape design, urban design, planning and property development.  It is available to both the Council and developers/architects to provide independent advice on urban design aspects of new developments.

Since its inception 12 months ago it has met 19 times and looked at 26 projects. The range of issues the panel has considered include the relationship of a building to adjacent streets and public places, the relationship with existing heritage buildings, the design of facades and treatment of rooftops, and the design of pedestrian and vehicle entrances.

Projects which have been reviewed by the panel include the South City Mall redevelopment, a new office tower at 92-102 Armagh Street, Ronald McDonald House and additions to Parklands Hospital.

The panel does not have decision making powers. Its role is to provide expert advice to the Council and developers, to provide an easier consent process through early identification of design issues, and to add value to developments through high quality design

Carolyn Ingles, Christchurch City Council Programme Manager Liveable City, said staff had received a number of positive comments from applicants regarding both the panel hearings and the recommendations.

“We have also seen amendments to applications as a result of the panel’s comments which have led to a better design outcome for all concerned.  The amendments have included additional pedestrian canopies, amended rooflines and facades, and improved site layouts and access.  Having the panel review applications can mean that issues which might have caused delays with consents further down the track can be avoided or amended.”

Ms Ingles said the panel was a product of the Council’s commitment to providing high quality urban design as part of the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy (UDS).  The UDS was introduced in 2007 in partnership with Environment Canterbury, the Waimakariri District Council, the Selwyn District Council and Transit New Zealand (now the New Zealand Land Transport Agency) to manage the growth of greater Christchurch.

The recommendations of the panel are sent to the applicant and given to the Council as well.  Revisions and design improvements are encouraged and discussed prior to the resource consent application

being lodged.   The recommendations are included in the Council

planning report which is considered by the decision makers for each consent.

The panel also carries out design reviews on the Council’s own major capital projects where these will be publicly accessible, and reviews City Plan changes which have significant urban design implications

Each review panel includes four panelists drawn from the larger pool of approved members to ensure that there are no conflicts of interest and to allow for specialist skills to be utilised when required.

Panel members are nominated by the New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA), the New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects (NZILA), the Property Council of New Zealand (PCNZ), the New Zealand Planning Institute (NZPI), the New Zealand Institute of Surveyors (NZIS) and the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

The current panel comprises: Robert Batty (Christchurch planning and resource management consultant), Alec Bruce (Christchurch architect), Diane Brand (Wellington architect, urban designer and lecturer), Tim Church (Christchurch urban designer and landscape architect), Grant Edge (Christchurch landscape architect), William Field (Christchurch landscape architect), Bill Gregory (Christchurch architect), John Hardwick-Smith (Wellington architect), Nicole Lauenstein (Christchurch architect and urban designer), Jasper van der Lingen (Christchurch architect), Graeme McDonald (Christchurch

valuer) and David Sheppard (Christchurch architect). A heritage expert, additional Property Council and Planning Institute representatives and two representatives from the Institute of Surveyors are also joining the panel.

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