Auckland Council has confirmed its promise to elevate urban design across all its activities with the appointment of urban design champions on each of its 21 Local Boards, with Board Chair Chris Darby taking the role for Devonport’s local board.
Meeting for the first time together this week the champions were addressed by London planning and regeneration expert Dr Richard Simmons, former chief executive of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), which advised the UK government on architecture, urban design and public space.
Local board champions are the idea of Ludo Campbell-Reid, the city’s urban design champion, Devonport resident and the head of the council’s environmental strategy and policy department. Urban design champions will contribute to the drive toward creating the world’s most liveable city. This network of design champions will be supported by the built environment unit of the department, led by Tim Watts.
Mr Campbell-Reid set up a similar network in London, which brought together 33 champions across the city’s boroughs to lift the quality of design in London.
Councillor Cameron Brewer, the council’s political urban design champion, and chair of the planning and urban design forum, said the timing was perfect for the Local Board champions to take on their advocacy role.
“The city’s on a high with the likes of the opening of the Wynyard Quarter, the stunningly redeveloped Auckland art gallery and the innovative shared spaces across the city – not to mention Rugby World Cup,” he said.
“We have to build on that success and, from 20 September, the public will have an opportunity to give feedback on four critical draft plans for our city – the draft 30-year Auckland Plan, the exciting city centre master plan and waterfront plans and the region’s economic development strategy.
“The local board champions can show leadership in explaining how all these fit together and the importance good urban design will have on the continuing success of our city.”
Mr Campbell-Reid said that having an urban design champion on each of the local boards will assist local decision making and bring added expertise to discussions. The champions would receive training and become part of a network meeting regularly to hear about best practice and to learn from each other.
“It will bring urban design principles to grassroots’ Auckland and keep design top of mind,” he added.
Mr Brewer said that the local champions would be able to acknowledge excellence by nominating awards to businesses, developers or community groups that invest in great urban design.
“Aucklanders are placing increasing importance on good urban design. Our network of champions will ensure people’s aspirations for a better built environment are reflected across the region.”