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Report Back from Collaborative Planning in Riegel Germany

In follow up to the Breite III participatory charrettes in Riegel, Germany, which you can read about in the 2020Visions blog post by Andreas Von Zadow; a report back presentation with broadsheet was delivered to the charrette participants on 22 November 2018.  Andreas has shared the broadsheet along with the key themes as they were presented (in German) which can be viewed by following the links below. 

Presentation Broadsheet

Key Themes Insert

Collaborative Planning in Riegel “Breite III” (Germany)

Following an earlier post about the Breite III participatory charrettes in Riegel, Germany (see post here); below is a write-up from Andreas Von Zadow who shares some of the discussions with participants that took place on 12 and 13 October 2018. The article closes with a view to the next steps which includes the creation of a masterplan concept for Breite III. This will be presented back to the public on the 22 November 2018.

We have to shift from me-living to we-living if we truly want to achieve sustainable settlements! – Joachim Eble, EMP Tübingen

As an introduction to a public cooperative planning process for the 4,000 strong community of Riegel, Joachim Eble, town planner, architect and pioneer in sustainable masterplanning presented a number of European best practice projects. With his presentation he introduced a new terminology to describe an increasingly important trend in designing new, sustainable neighbourhoods: Creating conditions for We-Living, which means smaller units in collaborative housing projects, instead of continuing with ME-living, the default credo for single housing plots for young families with 2 cars, 2 motor cycles and 4 bikes each.

Many owners of those single-family houses want to sell their houses, because they are too large for them after the kids have flown the nest. On the other hand, the dwellings can easily be reused for collaborative living, with other adults or elderly people who are in the same position and would love to share their places and lives with others.

Collaborative living needs appropriate building formats suited to the new area of Riegel that is to be developed. If that happens, we can sell our houses, move with our friends and live together with them just a few streets away. Young families looking for somewhere to live could buy them without having to build their own, including their mature gardens. One of the Riegel house owners at the workshop session said,

This is a win-win-situation that would create advantages for all of us, and be a sustainable use of resources at the same time!

Participants were keen for the development area to be based on sustainable water and energy solutions. However, as architect, town planner and auditor for the German Green Building Council DGNB, Rolf Messerschmidt, pointed out:

Many things are possible, but not everything is financially affordable.

The very well attended planning weekend, facilitated by Eble Messerschmidt & Partner and VON ZADOW INTERNATIONAL, focussed mainly on housing typologies and models for compact, multifunctional living for people of all ages, that are accessible and affordable for all. They should be combined with a mix of services: health and maintenance support, small offices and co-working spaces, and of course a broad range of green environments such as leisure and children’s facilities serving not only the local inhabitants but the whole of Riegel.

So, let’s look forward to seeing the new masterplan concept for “Breite III” to be presented on 22.11.2018 in Riegel. The day after the presentation, the local support group (Unterstützerkreis), whose 25 members are nurturing this extraordinary development project, will commit backing and assistance from regional and state level as well as approaching private investors to bring this project to fruition.

Andreas Von Zadow

You can learn more about Von Zadow International on their website

Big Local fuels community-led approach to decision making in Heston West

Heston West is an ‘overlooked’ suburban neighbourhood in the Borough of Hounslow to the west of London, a stone’s throw from Heathrow Airport and it is one of the 150 areas awarded Big Local funding. 

Big Local is an exciting opportunity for residents in 150 areas in England to spend £1million or more each on making a massive difference to their communities.  Big Local, launched in 2010, is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and managed by Local Trust, a unique organisation whose aim is to support resident- and community-led solutions for creating lasting change throughout England.

In the summer of 2018 the Heston West Big Local Partnership (HWBLP) supported by the Academy of Urbanism (AoU) held two day-long Diagnostic Workshops with residents, businesses and key stakeholders. The Diagnostic Workshops, run by AoU Academicians —Biljana Savic, Charles Campion, Joanna Chambers, Anna Leggett and Hilary Satchwell — were attended by representatives from Local Trust, members of Hounslow Council’s Planning and Transport departments, several local charities, residents and young people from the Cranford Community College. Through walkabouts, discussions, illustrations and group work, they sought to understand the impact of the built environment on social and economic issues in the area, to identify potential improvement projects and initiatives, to consider how they could be funded and to build the Partnership’s engagement with local communities. This citizen-led initiative revealed several key priority proposals for the community, including the widely felt recognition that the built environment and public spaces play a pivotal role in mental health and wellbeing.

The AoU team and the HWBLP are now assessing the outcomes and working with partners and the local community to consider next steps.

Delivering Action in Your Town Centre

Chris Jones runs Chris Jones Regeneration, a values based consultancy that cares about bringing long lasting benefits for communities across Wales, the United Kingdom and beyond. Chris was project lead for the Blaenau Ffestiniog revitalisation process featured as one of the case studies in 20/20 Visions.

By Chris Jones

As you embark on a journey to revitalize your town centre or community, it’s important to be clear about where you want to go.  Understanding where you are and where you want to be, making best use of the physical assets of a place, energising people and bringing them together with a common focus is all equally important.

Developing a Vision and a Plan for a place can work on all levels – a building, street, square, large area of land, town centre or for the wider settlement.  It is also important to realise that sometimes having fuzzy boundaries is good as places don’t stop at the city limits but relate to other places whether there are workforce, transportation, employment and/or other factors that may have an influence.

A Vision for….

When a town needs a vision it is sometimes because it lacks one or it needs to remind itself about its function, identity and future opportunities.  The need to reimagine town centres is important as we’re not about “popping out to the shops” anymore but about using towns as place to do business, spend social time in and engage in arts or cultural activity.  A vision isn’t just a physical visualization of where a place wants to be, it also needs to consider its social make-up and how it can unlock economic and social opportunity, and local service delivery for a diverse and maturing population.  It also needs to reflect on the distinct environmental qualities of its place that define its history, setting and modern day identity.

A vision can also work alongside destination building, acting as a messenger for economic development, inward investment and tourism. This creates an open door for companies and investors that see the potential and who want to locate in the city or town to be part of the local business community.

Lastly and importantly, a vision needs to relate to its local community so people understand the current health of their town or place, to understand choices and how development and infrastructure can meet their needs, and how it can benefit them.

Language is therefore important so that it connects with strategic organisations and local residents, shows a sensible logic to proposed actions and sets out some ambition. Visions by their nature need to be forward looking and about horizons.  They also need to show through their accompanying plans the steps to get to the end goals, so that they build confidence and show visible benefits along the way.

Involving People

Plans will only succeed if people have been involved and have ownership.  Sadly, words like stakeholder management are creeping into regeneration these days.  Values of participation and involvement as a continuum is therefore critical to people understanding, responding and helping co-deliver future plans and action.  Communication is often over-looked when addressing who needs to have a voice in the process and how they can join the conversation, whether this be through open meetings, roadshows or roaming place workshops. Use of the web, social media and surveys are also good tools for getting people involved.

In developing plans for the regeneration of Blaenau Ffestiniog, involving local people was critical to the success of future plans.  This included creative examples of visitor journey reflections on the local steam train, town centre walkabouts, community workshops sessions using local slate as a canvass for sketching out ideas, and the use of physical models in workshops and exhibitions.

Community participation is important to mapping the physical and social capital and challenges of a town, often revealing stories and the personality of a place that aren’t written down but told by people. Local people also help us understand how they use their towns and why they don’t.  They will also tell you what will attract them back into a place, often wanting to get involved through a community organization or as a local resident.

It is equally important to involve people that have direct influence such as large and small businesses/employers, landlords, public sector bodies, educational institutions, transport providers – among others. Finally make sure young people have a chance to get involved, after all they will be adults, perhaps parents, when they start to see the plan come to fruition!

Whilst the client within the local authority may consider themselves as a leader of a visioning and place based process, they need a champion.  This needn’t just be the Council’s cabinet member. This could be a local business person, a major employer or a community organization, or could involve a series of champions that represent business, transport, learning, culture, etc.  You may want to consider somebody that is new to a town or a place and who brings a different perspective.  Equally, somebody born and bred locally would understand how the town has evolved as well as its people.

Maintaining the energy, trust and relationship beyond a plan-making process is also important as people want to see things happen and be reminded that they were a part of the initial conversation that led to action.  Remember managing change in towns and communities takes time and how you communicate progress is key to showing the value of your town’s vision and plan, and keeping people interested.

A Doing Plan

When looking for a focused approach to delivering change in town centres, masterplans tend to be favoured as they present and analyse an understanding of place, and provide a structured approach to creating a clear and consistent framework for development.  These tend to focus on:

  • suitable locations for commercial, housing and mixed-use development;
  • locations where the town or city should increase density, use redevelopment, or intervene in other ways;
  • opportunities to extend and/or improve open space, recreational areas, and civic facilities;
  • strategies from increasing or growing economic development;
  • environmental, historic and cultural resources that need conservation; and
  • strategies for solving congestion and improving transportation

Master plan-led approaches often tackle issues through a process founded on co-ordination, sharing ideas and collaboration across professional disciplines that includes matching assets with potential users.

Whilst masterplans are about physical place-led solutions they also need to understand the current behavior of users and whether enhancements and new uses can stimulate additional activity that makes towns and places that are pleasurable to live, work and enjoy.  The knitting together of masterplans with economic development and destination management needs is key as well as planning-led allocations so an integrated approach to delivering policy is achieved.

In addition to having an awareness of specific opportunities for sites and properties, sustainability should run through a masterplan as a constant check with affordability, energy efficiency, green infrastructure, biodiversity, health and well-being and good connectivity. Masterplanning should also be about raising the quality of place-led design solutions that show creativity, innovation and make statements of intent.  They should not be about window dressing and piece-meal solutions but demonstrate a real understanding of a town centre’s built assets, its distinctiveness and identify where new interventions can add to the form and activity.

Design should be about recognition of a town’s distinctiveness and should also show opportunities for making statements that take a community forward.  Design codes should therefore cover key strategic sites, a group of buildings or key streets and can be adopted by the local planning authority as supplementary planning guidance. They should also be about ‘talking-up’ a place through a plan-led prospectus that identifies the unique selling points of a place, proposed infrastructure enhancements and how investors can complement a place.

Some examples of where towns have used digital medium to show their visions and plans can be found further away in Warringah, New South Wales, Australia.  These short films help visualise issues, opportunities and show to the local community and future investors the way that visions and masterplans are going to be delivered.

Research undertaken for the North East branch of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) identifies that: where masterplans tend to work they have either met or exceeded the brief, complied with policy, undertaken a sound and thorough approach, responded to constraints, proposed efficient infrastructure, suggested viable components and set out a framework for positive inter relationships. Town centre visions and masterplans can also help provide a business case for funding and grants – often at a programme level – or can support individual sites and buildings. This could be through Government programmes, Heritage Lottery Funding, transport grants and to shape capital programmes.

Working for Isle of Anglesey County Council in Holyhead, we helped develop a Vision and Masterplan document which led to securing Heritage Lottery funding and Vibrant and Viable Places funding from Welsh Government.  If you want to find out about best practice advice for masterplanning, guidance can be found in England and Scotland.

In addition to masterplans, Neighbourhood Plans and Place Plans are also about realising economic, environmental and social ambitions for a place that are informed, logical and delivered through a partnership approach.  In England, the Government’s 2012 Localism Act provided powers to produce Neighbourhood Plans which help shape development in terms of location and what it will look like for uses such as housing and employment.  The development of Neighbourhood Plans is through strong community engagement as debates focus on how best to provide for new housing and employment and to understand the implications for local services in line with future growth.  Plans that have been held up as best practice include Thame in Oxfordshire, which was awarded the 2013 RTPI award for Innovative Plan Making.

This approach to neighbourhood planning is fairly new in Wales with Place Plans now forming part of the Planning Wales Act 2015.  Abergele in Conwy County Borough, North Wales is an example of where a Place Plan process has been undertaken.  The Design Commission for Wales has also invested in a toolkit “shape my town” which provides a step by step guide to assessing the quality of their place, town, village or neighbourhood before investing time and money in improving it.  Other Welsh Councils such as Monmouthshire County Council have adopted a service delivery focus to places with their whole place planning approach.  This is an initiative that looks at how a whole area approach to public services can lead to better services at less cost.

Are We There Yet?

Often overlooked is the need to monitor and understand the impacts of a town centre vision and masterplan.  Establishing a strategic headline level of indicators is important as well as local street level ways of measurement.  Away from statistics, citizen panels, e-zines, social media updates and vox pops through audio and video, annual reports help communicate progress to the wider community as well as local people communicating how they feel.  The mid Wales market town of Llandrindod Wells has recently launched an annual report for its economic action plan for the town in the form of a short film on its activity to date.

Key Pointers

Some of the main tips when considering a vision or plan for your place or town centre include:

  • Understand why you need a vision and a plan and whether it has a specific focus
  • Identify who needs to be involved, how to communicate with your community and find champions that will promote the opportunity
  • Find ways of understanding your place or town centre and not just through physical analysis
  • Look at what types of activity can be unlocked through physical development and improvement
  • Have a timeline that allows for ambition and making progress on small wins and longer term goals
  • Think of your audience – your local community and also people that want to invest – what are you unique selling points?
  • Build in monitoring and establish some outcomes that are realistic and show holistic as well as project related

Community Revitalisation in New Orleans [update]

This is an update to the blog post from the 17th of July about the AIA R/UDAT revitalization workshops in New Orleans. The AIA team has just released a comprehensive report detailing the process and outcomes after working with local people to shape a vision for the regeneration of their neighbourhood.

View the report here: New Orleans R/UDAT Report

blog post from 17 July 2018

This past weekend a Regional & Urban Design Assistance Team (R/UDAT) from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has been leading community revitalisation workshops in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, an area devastated by hurricane Katrina.

The Lower Ninth Ward is an urban district of New Orleans surrounded by water on all sides with a man-made canal to its north west and the Mississippi River to its south. Today just 6,500 people live there with a third of these households living below the poverty line. The new Mayor of New Orleans, LaToya Cantrell, has pledged city support to renew the restoration efforts.

The revitalisation workshops were spurred by a coalition of faith-based organisations, planners, architects and artists in the community which came together to organise a new effort for the urban regeneration of the neighbourhood.

“The role of the AIA team is to work with these partners and the community to create a neighbourhood-based strategy for the regeneration. The central components of the strategy are on generating equitable development that doesn’t displace the community but serves as a vehicle to facilitate economic mobility and strengthen community.” – Joel Mills, Senior Director of Communities by Design, AIA

The four-day workshop process has included meetings with the steering committee, local tours, stakeholder sessions, and an open house event. To ensure the AIA team is capturing and reflecting on what residents are telling them, they follow a series of feedback loops.

Prior to the weekend’s workshops, the AIA’s Communities by Design released a short film about the project which gathered over 12,000 views on social media. It’s believed the film helped bring significantly more participation to the workshops.

Watch the Communities by Design film here

A resident in the film explains,

“The Lower Ninth Ward was historically, one of the most progressive, black-owned communities in the entire country.”

Before Katrina in 2005, nearly 20,000 people lived there over 90% of whom were African-Americans. The flood waters, a result of the hurricane and a breach in the levee, destroyed 5,000 of their homes. Following the destruction there were an estimated 15 attempts to recover the neighbourhood through different planning initiatives, but none were successful at helping restore the neighbourhood.

There appears to be a renewed sense of determination for people of this community. One resident said,

“This is the first time I have seen energy like this in the lower 9th. This feels like a new beginning.”

It’s a positive shift in a difficult story; no doubt many will be watching with hope as the AIA team, the local organisations and residents work together to build a brighter future.

More on the story can be read in this article from NC State University

The Lower Ninth Ward: Not Just Another Plan

Community Revitalisation in New Orleans

This past weekend a Regional & Urban Design Assistance Team (R/UDAT) from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has been leading community revitalisation workshops in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, an area devastated by hurricane Katrina.

The Lower Ninth Ward is an urban district of New Orleans surrounded by water on all sides with a man-made canal to its north west and the Mississippi River to its south. Today just 6,500 people live there with a third of these households living below the poverty line. The new Mayor of New Orleans, LaToya Cantrell, has pledged city support to renew the restoration efforts.

The revitalisation workshops were spurred by a coalition of faith-based organisations, planners, architects and artists in the community which came together to organise a new effort for the urban regeneration of the neighbourhood.

“The role of the AIA team is to work with these partners and the community to create a neighbourhood-based strategy for the regeneration. The central components of the strategy are on generating equitable development that doesn’t displace the community but serves as a vehicle to facilitate economic mobility and strengthen community.” – Joel Mills, Senior Director of Communities by Design, AIA

The four-day workshop process has included meetings with the steering committee, local tours, stakeholder sessions, and an open house event. To ensure the AIA team is capturing and reflecting on what residents are telling them, they follow a series of feedback loops.

Prior to the weekend’s workshops, the AIA’s Communities by Design released a short film about the project which gathered over 12,000 views on social media. It’s believed the film helped bring significantly more participation to the workshops.

Watch the Communities by Design film here

A resident in the film explains,

“The Lower Ninth Ward was historically, one of the most progressive, black-owned communities in the entire country.”

Before Katrina in 2005, nearly 20,000 people lived there over 90% of whom were African-Americans. The flood waters, a result of the hurricane and a breach in the levee, destroyed 5,000 of their homes. Following the destruction there were an estimated 15 attempts to recover the neighbourhood through different planning initiatives, but none were successful at helping restore the neighbourhood.

There appears to be a renewed sense of determination for people of this community. One resident said,

“This is the first time I have seen energy like this in the lower 9th. This feels like a new beginning.”

It’s a positive shift in a difficult story; no doubt many will be watching with hope as the AIA team, the local organisations and residents work together to build a brighter future.

More on the story can be read in this article from NC State University

The Lower Ninth Ward: Not Just Another Plan

Raising Stone in Blaenau Ffestiniog

The Blaenau Ffestiniog case study in 20/20 Visions describes a charrette focused community planning process to create a strategy to regenerate the town that once roofed the world. In this inspiring video, charrette team member and artist Howard Bowcott shows us the spectacular slate sculptures and other installations that emerged from the process to transform Blaenau town centre.

Watch the video on Youtube

20/20 Visions Foreword by Robert Ivy

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Regional Urban Design Action Team  (R/UDAT) model has played a hugely important role in the development of collaborative planning and placemaking. Established over 50 years ago as a response to the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, R/UDATs have brought the skill of architects and other practitioners into hundreds of cities, towns and neighbourhoods across the USA to co-design visions with local communities.  Below, Robert Ivy sets out the emergence of the charrette methodology in the US and the early R/UDATs. He acknowledges the emergence of new technologies in architecture and planning today but reminds us that the fundamental purpose of Charrettes remains unchanged.

FOREWORD TO 20/20 VISIONS

In a digitally frenetic time, when architectural technology has unleashed a plethora of unanticipated formal solutions to planning, design and construction, one humanely based architectural movement tied to democratic principles has thrived. Known by the acronym R/UDAT (Regional/Urban Design Assistance Team) this lauded programme has persisted for fifty years and spawned participatory charrette methodologies that flourish today – in North America and the UK, and around the world.

The relevance of democratic design is growing in this second decade of the twenty-first century. At a time in which societies all over the world are moving to cities at an unrelenting pace, and for the first time in human history, more of us live in cities than do not, the charrette model offers an optimistic perspective and an invaluable hands-on tool for city building.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is proud to have been associated with the development of charrettes through the R/UDAT programme, and we applaud the work illustrated in this book, which celebrates real results through case studies that demonstrate the diversity and richness of successful charrette methods, at a time when the world needs them more than ever.

Created in 1967 by AIA member Jules Gregory FAIA, and first held in Rapid City, South Dakota, the R/UDAT grew up and evolved in the civil rights era. Characteristic of their gestation in the 1960s, charrettes employ multidisciplinary teams of professionals to work with communities on a plan for urban change using the compressed timeframe. Today, after fifty years, over 150 R/UDATs have been organised by the AIA throughout North America, and the charrette methodology has been accepted and translated around the world.

Neither size nor scale limit the application of charrettes. Small towns and neighbourhoods, struggling economically, have seen light and hope, as have larger cities devastated by climatic events. In the US, universities, municipalities, state and federal agencies have adapted R/UDATs, and mayors have been among their most fervent admirers.

Millions of people today enjoy the results of charrette processes worldwide, and they have influenced professional practice as well. In the US, for example, the revitalisation of Portland’s successful Pearl District came about through a R/UDAT, as did the Santa Fe Railyard redevelopment, and the renaissance of tornado-hit East Nashville, to name a few.

During the past fifty years, technological innovation has exploded. We all look to see how new tools will affect future planning. The more humble tools that spurred the earliest convocations, the ubiquitous pens and pads and tape, have been joined by architectural software and communication tools that enable visualisation, a way of seeing in three or four dimensions, or that allow collaboration to happen in easier, more seamless ways.

While the tools have changed, their fundamental purpose has not. The convening of citizens through charrettes – enlightened, purposeful and committed  to design in its highest sense – offers hope for cities, towns and neighbourhoods struggling to find new models. Its democratic message explicitly promises us all that collective human intervention can be directed to positive ends.

ROBERT IVY FAIA

Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Institute of Architects (AIA)

Leading the Way with Kindness

In the second half of the 20th century, a decline in the textile industry resulted in the towns along the Upper Calder Valley, Yorkshire, England suffering from neglect and failing local economies. JTP architects and community planners were commissioned by the then regional development agency Yorkshire Forward to run the Upper Calder Valley Renaissance process to work collaboratively with the community to co-create a new Vision for the valley and establish a Valley team. Fifteen years on, a revitalised and enterprising community has come together to organise the Incredible Festival of Ideas where community and practitioners will come together to learn from each other in a celebration of community, creatively and kindness.

Leading the Way with Kindness

By Alison Pilling

How do we live and bring in new ways of being in our communities? The Calder Valley would like to show you how. While Hebden Bridge has always been known for being a unique place, the Calder Valley, from Todmorden to Halifax, has many experiences to offer; experiences that invite you to see why people move there and love living there.

A “Pay as you Feel” event, The Incredible Festival of Ideas is 4 days celebrating the birth, 10 years ago, of Incredible Edible, which has influenced communities worldwide, not simply with food, but on how to live with kindness and independence at heart. Opening with a solstice celebratory picnic and philosophy walk and exhibition in grade 2 listed Todmorden Town Hall, the weekend invites you to be inspired.

The Incredible Festival of Ideas includes two conferences, one on Placemaking sharing local views with national thought leaders, and the second focusing on how to build Resilience in flood affected areas.

As well as Incredible Edible tours where you’ll see maverick flower and food growing beds and benches to overcome loneliness, there are two ‘foodie’ days with important themes about sustainability and combating poverty. Jarvis Cocker from Pulp will even be doing a set on the Saturday night.

There’s also a radical version of Ted Talks, aptly named “Tod Talks”, where the main themes are Sex, Death and Currency (kindness not crypto) and all the other stages in between. It’s an incredible mix of local people with radical ideas, including leading campaigners from Transparency International and a leading lawyer for clergy abused in the church.

“The Festival is showcasing a way to live and in a beautiful valley too. We’re talking about ideas that really matter about place, connection and support and a triumph of hope in everyday life. Join us and see what the fuss is about and be inspired with ideas to make your place home too. Rather than say ‘something must be done’ come and see how we do it.”
—Mary Clear, Incredible Edible Todmorden

The festival coincides with the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival, the much-loved Handmade Parade and the Incredible Fabulous Feast at the iconic, Grade 1 listed Piece Hall Halifax – a Jo Cox Foundation Great Get Together Beacon Event – making it a ‘chock-a’ weekend worth visiting.

Underneath all this creativity, the local organisers, volunteers and conference speakers are giving their time for free. In joining together to make this happen, kindness, enjoyment and idealism bring us together.

Incredible Festival of Ideas
21 – 24 June 2018 in the Calder Valley
Various locations, many free events with Pay as you Feel where specified,
see website for details: incrediblefestival.org.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Case study from New Zealand

20/20 Visions: Collaborative Planning & Placemaking is now available to order from RIBA Bookshops.  In researching for the book, the author, Charles Campion, wrote case studies on Charrette processes from around the world. Many were based on first-hand experience and always with input and guidance from the many people who led these projects. Here is a case study chosen for this blog that was written with the help of Urbanismplus Director, Kobus Mentz and Senior Urban Planner, Susannah Goble.

Transport for Auckland’s future growth

Agreeing and devising, under extreme time constraints, a progressive $8billion transport strategy for the new growth areas of Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, which is grappling with high population growth in historically low density, car-based urban environments.

Foresight

Auckland, in the North Island of New Zealand, is the largest city and most important economic centre in the country and its diverse citizenry of 1.45 million, includes the largest Polynesian population in the world. The city’s growth in the early twentieth century was shaped by the rail and tram network but the rise of the private car subsequently led to Auckland developing a strongly suburban character.  Although, in many regards, the quality of life is high, Aucklanders cite traffic congestion and poor public transport as significant negatives.

Today, Auckland is experiencing unprecedented growth with an additional one million people predicted by 2043. In addition, there is an affordability crisis, due in part to a lack of housing supply, and the consequences of this are perceived to be a threat to the strength of the national economy. Regional urgency to plan for growth has therefore been compounded by pressures from central government.

The Transport for Future Urban Growth (TFUG) project was set up by local government agencies, Auckland Transport and Auckland Council and the central government NZ Transport Agency.  It was decided that the project should not just be transport focussed, but that other disciplines would have equal say because transport has profound and long lasting effects on communities and urban growth with serious environmental, economic, and social consequences.

A highly integrated process was required, not only to address the many disciplinary objectives, but also for speed due to the urgency and the inter-agency nature of the project. It was decided therefore that a carefully planned Charrette process was necessary.

Vision

In late 2015, the three key agencies, their project teams and discipline leads, were joined by consultants to participate in the Charrettes, devised and led by Kobus Mentz from Urbanismplus (other consultants were AECOM, Flow Transportation, Beca, Jacobs, TTM, Pocock Design:Environment, and Prosperous Places). The process was designed around six week long charrettes, held over a seven week period, with numerous shorter workshops occurring before and after this period.

The five month long project began with a scoping workshop, process workshop and several sessions to determine the required outputs. Three week-long charrettes (one for each growth direction to the South, North and North-west) were then held to develop long-list options and consultation sessions were held with elected members, iwi, developers, and the public with outputs fed back into the workshops. Traffic modelling of options and review of multi-criteria analysis was undertaken between Charrettes to inform the next stage. Three further week-long Charrettes (one for each growth direction) were held to develop short-list options and preferred programmes.  And finally, an implementation workshop was held, which prioritised all major transport infrastructure to ensure alignment with the thirty year Future Urban Land Supply Strategy.

While the Charrettes were tasked with technical complexity, many normative objectives were set and delivered, including:

  • Enthusiasm – by articulating the benefits to each discipline of a well-balanced and sustainable approach.
  • Holistic – by stating the holistic objectives of the project up front, and then again in more detail when sub-areas were considered.
  • Trust – by collectively agreeing to the multi-disciplinary evaluation criteria, and applying them collectively.
  • Integration – by all understanding each other’s objectives.
  • Breadth – by involving a wide range of disciplines and over 40 specialists in the charrettes.
  • Depth – by allowing all disciplines time to consider their area in depth before formulating multi-disciplinary solutions.
  • Place-based – by mapping ideas where possible.
  • Rigor – by technically verifying the options and by running transport modelling tests between workshops.
  • Consensus – by directly engaging with local boards, iwi, land owners, developers and stakeholders, and the general public in parallel to the workshop process ensuring their feedback was considered during the process.

The Charrette process delivered over 300 individual long-list options which were evaluated by all disciplines and modelled. From the resulting short-list of options a series of programme options were built. These were intensely scrutinised to ensure the best balance between supply and sustainability was found, and resulted in new hybrid programmes, and ultimately four preferred programmes for each growth direction.

The analysis quickly revealed that motorway extensions alone will fall short of relieving congestion and underscoring the need for more sustainable solutions. Rapid Transit Networks (RTN) feature strongly providing for dedicated busways that may graduate to light rail over the long term. Cycleways, transit oriented developments (TOD), increased employment opportunities, and biodiversity links were incorporated.

The resulting strategy prioritised $8 billion of transport infrastructure for 30 years of growth. The following specific outcomes were delivered for the three growth directions:

  • In the South a frequent bus network will supplement rail which currently serves limited employment destinations. When rail capacity is expanded through providing new stations serving a Transit Oriented Development (TOD) at Drury West, and centres with local employment opportunities, the bus network will convert to a rail feeder system.
  • In the North-West – a RTN will link Auckland City Centre with the new North West Town Centre, later to extend further east and north in a staged manner.
  • In the North – a new RTN from Albany Centre to the growth areas in the north at Dairy Flat, with high quality bus links to the nearby town, Orewa. A new TOD in Dairy Flat with considerable new employment land to reduce commuter travel.

Hindsight

The project proposals were quickly endorsed by the NZ Transport Agency’s Board, Auckland Transport’s Board, and Auckland Council and this allowed the development of Detailed Business Cases for each preferred option to get underway. At the time of writing, Auckland Council is developing structure plans to guide the zoning and land development to align with the outcomes of the charrettes.

The process allowed the planning / design professions to deliver promptly on an issue of wide economic and private sector importance while engaging widely and maintaining environmental standards. It has achieved a strategy that signals a step-change for Auckland’s future by delivering more autonomous and affordable communities supported by good public transport choices. This would not have been possible without having all the discipline experts in the room at the same time to challenge, problem solve, and inspire.

The TFUG project team continue to work as an amalgamated unit, with personnel from all three alliance agencies working in one office, allowing for continued integration, efficiencies, and multi-agency agreement across the different project streams.

In 2017, the process won the New Zealand Planning Institute’s 2017 Best Practice Award for Integrated Planning and Investigations. This Charrette-based approach can serve as a model for similar challenges internationally, allowing central and local government to work together with stakeholder input to produce a clear and deliverable pathway for investment.