Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Australian Planning Part 1

 Broadly speaking, what characterises urban development in Australia? Do you think New Zealand should more fully adopt some of these characteristics?


  1. Urban development in Australia can generally be characterised by the following aspects:
    - Detailed strategic land use planning with strong social goals
    - Heavy zonation and detailed controls
    - Long range planning
    - Reliance on private investment to flesh out strategies.
    While some characteristics overlap with urban development in New Zealand, i.e. heavy zonation and detail controls, others can be seen as a discourse. In my opinion, full adoption of detailed strategic land use planning and private investment characteristics could prove highly beneficial for urban development in New Zealand. Effective land-use planning around transport hubs, i.e. Auckland Northern Busway stations, could see the creation of successful TOD’s such as Kogarah Centre in Sydney (Newman 2007). While private investment in projects like the Christchurch rebuild would prove to be more efficient and effective than central government provisions.

  2. Source: Newman, P. (2007) Planning for Transit-Orientated Development in Australian Cities. [Online]. Available: (Accessed 15.08.2012)

  3. Urban development in Australia is marked by a unique degree of control exercised by state-level government (as opposed to central or local) regarding planning and infrastructure provision.

    This along with a historical tendency to favour greenfield growth has resulted in metropolitan plans distinct for heavily prescriptive, long-term land use planning and zoning, intetgration of land use with infrastructure, and a focus on implementation through the private sector.

    New Zealand should aim to emulate these characteristics given its historical challenges in plan implementation. Facilitating implementation through the private sector should be a central consideration, particularly in Auckland's Unitary Plan which will give effect to the Auckland Plan.

    Searle, G. & Bunker, R. Metropolitan strategic planning: An Australian paradigm? Planning Theory, 9(3), 163-180.

  4. Urban development in Australia is driven by the state control of planning, as well as the provision of infrastructure by the state. Another key driver is the importance of greenfield growth in Australian metropolitan plans, as there are less constraints to deal with.

    These drivers have shaped the key characteristics of urban development, which are:
    • Heavy land use zonation, and highly prescriptive controls
    • Strategic land use planning with strong social goals
    • Long Range Planning
    • Integrated planning (land use and placement of major infrastructure)
    • Many public private partnerships for the provision of strategies.

    I believe that New Zealand would greatly benefit from more private investments in large infrastructure projects such as the inner city rail link. This would provide efficiency which central government currently cannot provide. Another aspect of Australian urban development, which New Zealand should adopt, is the formation of highly detailed strategic plans, with an emphasis on how future development or intensification will be funded. The Auckland Plan is an example of a plan lacking detail in terms of how the ideas will be achieved. However, adequate public consultation needs to be maintained during the development of these plans, something that is done to a minimum in Australia.

    Reference: Searle, G. & Bunker, R. Metropolitan strategic planning: An Australian paradigm? Planning Theory, 9(3), 163-180.

  5. Samantha Gibbs: 1445642August 17, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    The five key characteristics of urban development in Australia are:
    - Detailed strategic land use planning with strong social goals
    - Heavy zonation and detailed controls
    - Long range planning
    - Coordination instruments for infrastructure
    - Private investment to flesh out strategies
    I think it would be beneficial for New Zealand to adopt some of these characteristics, particularly long range planning, strategic land use with social goals and heavy zonation. Our current legislation is too weak to ensure good design, our District Plans don’t allow for sustainable design and the regulations that ARE in place encourage profit maximization rather than high quality development. Heavy zonation and strategic land use planning with social goals enables a more long range view to be taken, which can help to meet sustainable development requirements, particularly in relation to meeting the needs of the future with ample resource s and good urban design.

    Source: Searle, G. & Bunker, R. Metropolitan strategic planning: An Australian paradigm? Planning Theory, 9(3), 163-180.

  6. Australia's federal government structure represents a cultural tendency to move away from the traditional European planning paradigm in favour of a more Americanised approach. This is typically underpinned by heavily prescriptive planning practises that commonly utilise private investment through partnerships (however, just like in America, this differs from state to state).

    New Zealand on the other hand enshrines a more European approach to planning. Some lessons can be learned from the Australian model. In particular the historical inability of New Zealand to deliver on its plans (and lack of investment in infrastructure) can be addressed through an Australian approach. Having said this the typical urban sprawl resulting from greenfield development is not desireable in New Zealand, as it lacks the necessary population (and density) to support any efficient public transport. The lack of public participation is another issue in the Australian model.

    See reference (in particular chapter 6): Gurran, N. 2007. Australian Urban Land Use Planning: Introducing Statutory Planning Practice in New South Wales. Sydney: Sydney University Press.

  7. Water sensitive urban development is a prominent part of Australian planning as droughts are a significant issue. Planning for water is therefore an inherent part of the Australian culture and this is highlighted by the Government of South Australia which has produced an extensive technical manual for water sensitive urban design. While NZ currently does not have a serious water problem, climate change is expected to bring about reduced rainfall and therefore water sensitive planning should play a more significant part in NZ and we could adopt best practices from Australia.

    Furthermore, Australian planning relies on the significant privatisation of infrastructure and I believe this should be adopted in New Zealand (especially in Auckland) so that large-scale projects such as the City Rail Link can be built. Central government’s reluctance to fund such projects and the restrictions they place on Auckland Council to raise revenue mean that privatisation could be the key for allowing Auckland to bridge the ever-growing infrastructure gap.

    References:,+property+and+land/Building+and+development/South+Australia's+land+supply+and+planning+system/Water-sensitive+urban+design [Accessed 17/8/12].

    Searle, G and Bunker, R. 2010. Metropolitan strategic planning: An Australian paradigm? Planning Theory, 9(3): 163-180.

    Michael mtre046 - 1612148

  8. Already posted on this one, so this post isn't intended as an extra blog - just thought it'd be good to flesh out another side to the PPP argument given it's been mentioned frequently...

    It's true PPPs have been widely deployed in the Australian context to deliver infrastructure, but I'd argue that for Auckland we can't be content to see PPPs as a magic bullet just because the government won't come to the table. The reasoning that "there's no other choice" isn't good enough when significant risks are being taken with public money.

    PPPs appear an obvious solution when confronted with a lack of public funds, yet they carry significant risks for the public sector and therefore ratepayers in future. The public sector very often ends up paying the private sector's interest, meaning that while the private sector comes up with the funds in the short term, the public sector incurs a much greater long term debt that is ultimately borne by future rate/taxpayers. Furthermore, PPPs can entail a loss of public control over the operation of the asset depending on the nature of the PPP.

    Thus, I think it's important that with any discussion around Auckland's infrastructure funding we don't lose sight of a long-term view of who really pays. It's important to ask questions like "is it worth getting the asset now if it means that ratepayers are still paying back the interest in 30 years?".

    I personally don't think that the PPP is what we should be adopting from the Australian model. Contrary to popular belief, NZ is awash with transport money - it just needs to be spent more intelligently. Auckland Council is looking at $60 billion in capital expenditure over the next 30 years on transport, and of that $10-15 billion is unaccounted for. Of the $60 billion, only about $7 billion is on rail, and of that, $2 billion is on the City Rail Link. It could be paid for easily if we prioritised our projects more intelligently, or better still if central government let local government collect revenue other than rates - but that's a debate for another day...

    Thus to sum this little essay up, spend public funds more intelligently, and there's no need to go down the risky path of the PPP that will probably cost us alot more down the track. End rant.

  9. As for a source for that, I was reminded of a discussion on PPPs in an Auckland Conversations event Rikash and I attended a little while back. The speaker was Daniel Moylan, a London councillor and former Deputy Chairman of Transport for London. For anyone interested, the video clip of the discussion is below - the PPP bit starts about 20 minutes in with Len Brown asking the question.

  10. Urban development in Australia is largely driven by the state control of planning, the states provision of infrastructure and greenfield development.

    These ideas influence the following characteristics:

    • Detailed and strategic land use planning
    • Heavy zonation and detailed controls
    • Long range planning
    • Reliance on the private sector to help provide for strategies

    Adopting some of these approaches, especially private investment in infrastructure and long range strategic planning would strengthen the development and execution of plans in New Zealand as well as help to achieve large-scale infrastructure projects, such as Auckland’s inner-city rail link. However there are aspects in the Australian model that I believe New Zealand should avoid. These include greenfield development (due to New Zealand’s low population density and limited space), and the lack of public participation.

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  11. Broadly speaking, urban development in Australia is characterised by state control of planning. This results in heavy zonation and detailed controls, as well as thinking a generation ahead, in order to ensure the private sector is guided when they ‘flesh out’ strategies. With trends towards privatisation of infrastructure and public private partnerships (PPP), this level of control is especially important.

    Coordination of infrastructure through state planning would be useful to adopt, as through infrastructure you control the growth of a city (see Blair, 2001). I would not, however, wish New Zealand to adopt urban expansion as Australia has. Instead, New Zealand needs to find better ways of encouraging compact growth, and making these financially feasible for developers to support. New Zealand could better utilise PPP systems to deliver upon such goals, however incentives such as reduction of fees for consent and publicly subsidised land, could be better options to consider

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    Blair, R. 2001. Managing Urban Growth: Can the Policy Tools Approach Improve Effectiveness? Public Works Management Policy, 6(1), pp. 102-113.

    Searle, G., Bunker, R. 2010. Metropolitan strategic planning: An Australian paradigm? Planning Theory, 9(3), pp. 163-180.

  12. In Australia, urban development and planning involves dealing with many economic, social and ecological issues at state level. State control and regulation of development enables Australian cities with greater strategic planning powers when dealing with contemporary issues of managing rapid growth, infrastructure provisions, economic development and environmental protection. However, although New Zealand is faced with similar issues, Australia's methods of urban development are unique to Australian cities. As many of the most populated cities experience problems of overpopulation, the state has responded by focusing future development into greenfield areas. This would not be a good strategic approach for New Zealand to adopt, as although we need to address problems of a growing population, New Zealand needs to stay clear of problems already associated with urban sprawl.

    Heavy zonation and and long range planning which are a charateristic of Australia's urban development could be adopted by New Zealand councils to help reach sustainable development ideas for the future, which could see a change in how our planning instruments are implemented. Historically, New Zealand's urban development plans have not been followed through and lack any substance for future commitments by both local and central government which is why New Zealand would benefit from Australias long range urban development provisions which address future problems in urban areas.

    Ailish Collins

  13. Ziteng (Jim) Zhan 1203221August 23, 2012 at 9:36 PM

    Australian urban development characterised by heavy zonation and reliance on private investment to enrich planning strategies.

    Between 1914 and 1945, major focus in planning legislation were on subdivision control in Australia, but was considered to be a threatening interest by businesses.

    Key drivers are:

    State control of planning
    State provision of infrastructure
    Greenfield development is on where greenfields grown expands onto rural land on the urban fringe.

    I believe attracting more private business investors into Auckland fosters the New Zealand's economy. I think Greenfield development on undeveloped fringes around metropolitan is practical in many parts of New Zealand where the benefits to accommodate the growing community outweighs the elimination of rural land.

    Reference: Sanyal, B. 2005. Comparative Planning Cultures. New York Routledge.

  14. Urban development in Australia is characterised by three key drivers; the state control of planning, the state provision of infrastructure and greenfield development, thus influencing the following characteristics:

    - Detailed strategic land use planning with strong social goals,
    - Heavy zonation and detailed controls,
    - Long range Planning,
    - Co-ordination instrument for infrastructure,
    - Reliance on private investment to flesh out strategies.

    I believe that it would benefit New Zealand to adopt some of these characteristics. New Zealand's current plans and legislation seem to only encourage profit maximisation and do not allow for high quality, sustainable designs with more detailed strategic land use planning with strong social goals will enable public participation and the input from public that these plans need. I also think that encouraging and enabling more private investment will enable projects to be funded and completed i.e. City Rail Link, and could help to close the infrastructure gap that New Zealand has.

    Reference: Searle, G. & Bunker, R. Metropolitan strategic planning: An Australian paradigm? Planning Theory, 9(3), 163-180.

    stho229 1200098

  15. Student ID - 1462661

    In Australia, the state seem to have great control over planning and as a result it is clear to see that characteristics of urban development seem to be based on this control. The main features of urban development are as followed:

    - Heavy land use zonation is carried out with strict detailed controls

    - Long range and integrated planning where thought has been given to not only the land use but the placement of infrastructure.

    - Reliance on private investment to flesh out strategies

    - Strategic land use planning is focused on and based on strong social goals

    Based on these main features, I believe New Zealand can gain a lot from using some of these features. Our District Plans seem to be too broad and acts like a general set of rules. A one policy fits all is not the way to go in terms of creating sustainable design and development. Therefore it is vital that we adopt some of Australia's characteristics of urban development such as heavy land use zonation and strategy land use planning which are based on social goals. Accepting these would allow more community involvement in planning and will result in long lasting planning. Also, it is important to allow more involvement from the private sector as it seems to be the best method of funding large projects that intend to allow New Zealand to have high quality , sustainable designs and allow PPP to help carry out social goals.

    References - Searle, G. & Bunker, R. Metropolitan strategic planning: An Australian paradigm? Planning Theory, 9(3), 163-180.

  16. Characteristics of urban development in Australia include
    - Detailed strategic land use planning
    - Heavy zonation and detailed controls
    - Long range planning
    - Private investment
    It is largely characterized by state of control planning, which would be of benefit to New Zealand urban development. Aspects of detailed strategic land use planning with strong social controls would be very beneficial. Currently, New Zealand has weak and ambiguous plans and legislation which focus on profit instead of quality design. If detailed land use planning was to be included in relevant legislation, it would work well in backing up with detail how to achieve certain visions, and achieving efficient and good quality urban design. Private investment would also be beneficial in New Zealand urban development where large infrastructure projects such as the proposed inner city rail link could be efficiently funded and completed.

  17. Urban development in Australia is largely controlled by the state, with their influence on planning and infrastructure provisions. Greenfield development is often favoured and other characteristics of their urban development include the establishment of an integrated approach, prescriptive land use zoning, detailed strategic plans, long-range planning and the utilisation of private investment in order to get strategies achieved.
    In relation to New Zealand I think that some of these characteristics should be more fully adopted here. The use of public private partnerships and integrated planning schemes would be beneficial in funding and executing plans for major projects such as infrastructure upgrades, which is currently a problem in Auckland because of the lack of support for funding from central Government. However the limited public participation in the Australian model is not something which I think should be adopted here as they provide checks and balances within the New Zealand model.

    References - Searle, G. & Bunker, R. Metropolitan strategic planning: An Australian paradigm? Planning Theory, 9(3), 163-180.


  18. The main characteristics of urban development in Australia are:
    - More centralised power, predominantly at the State level
    - Wide scale strategic planning (by States)
    - Integrated Planning between land use and transport
    - Heavy zonation and controls
    - A predominance of Public Private Partnerships
    - Focus on water sensitive design

    Urban development in New Zealand should adopt some of these characteristics in order to be more effective.

    For an example, State-wide spatial planning (which may convert to New Zealand’s regions or an even larger scale) allows for more efficient planning rather than the district based approach currently utilised. Auckland has already begun to implement this characteristic, with the legislated spatial plan providing a stronger base than the Auckland Regional Growth Strategy which has been poorly implemented by the previous territorial authorities.

    Another characteristic New Zealand should adopt is the prevalence of Private Partnerships. This allows for large projects which can not readily be funded to be constructed as early as possible in order for the country to quickly reap the benefits. Contrast to the City Rail Link, of which the major argument between central and local government is who will pay for it.

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  19. Urban development in Australia is essentially based on the state’s control over planning and its provision of infrastructure. These aspects influence some key urban development elements which include the formation of detailed and strategic land use planning, heavy zonation and detailed controls, being able to visualise planning a generation ahead, and also being dependent upon private investment to provide for strategies.

    Particular Australian approaches such as private sector investments and long range planning could be successfully adopted in New Zealand’s urban development context for various reasons. Investments coming from private sectors would financially contribute towards the completion of large scale infrastructural developments particularly in Auckland and Christchurch, while planning a step ahead allows for better strategic directions to be laid out and in turn be sustainably implemented in future practices.

    Searle, G., Bunker, R. 2010. Metropolitan strategic planning: An Australian paradigm? Planning Theory, 9(3), 163-180.

    zyan070, 1583674

  20. Although the governance structures which planning operates within are dramatically different in New Zealand and Australia, the approach to infrastructure decision making in both countries has begun to converge.

    Historically New Zealand’s legislation has not been adequately reflected at the implementation stage, and thorough, high quality plans at both district and regional have often failed to affect meaningful change. Whereas in Australia the planning system places an emphasis on methods of implementation and how to achieve final outcomes, and an exploration of creative, unconventional methods has allowed for more efficient systems to emerge.

    This year, the announcement of the redevelopment plan for Christchurch has revealed an interesting approach which is new to the New Zealand style of planning. An Urban Design Panel has been established to essentially bypass many of the time consuming processes which traditionally dictate the country’s development. By removing many constraints, these planners have the ability to focus on integrating good design principals in order to create healthier, more sustainable urban environments. In future, a similar approach could be adapted to other locations if it is effective in Christchurch.

    It is clear that New Zealand is looking to Australian planning methods in order to learn how to ensure successful outcomes, particularly at the larger urban scales which are somewhat unfamiliar to New Zealand. However the challenge will be determining how to adapt these methods within a governance structure and political climate which is vastly different from Australia. Therefore it is more than just a matter of copying but instead collaborating knowledge bases and merging future visions in order to enhance the future development of both Countries.

    Jessica Esquilant

  21. Australia has very distinctive planning characteristics of metropolitan planning system. The state governments have constitutional authority for a wide range of development, including economic, social and environmental matters and local government is a junior participant in this process. The key characterizes urban development in Australia includes:

    • Heavy land use zonation and highly very detailed controls

    • Detailed Strategic land use planning with strong social goals
    • Integrated planning among land use, transport and placement of major infrastructure
    • Long Range Planning

    • Many public private partnerships to help the provision of strategies
    Public Private Partnership is a major characteristic NZ should more fully adopt. PPP can meet the need for a broad range of skills, information and finance in many economic development projects. Other advantages, such as speedy, efficient and cost effective delivery of projects, or value for money for the taxpayer through optimal risk transfer and risk management, are also benefits the development of New Zealand.

    References - Searle, G. & Bunker, R. Metropolitan strategic planning: An Australian paradigm? Planning Theory, 9(3), 163-180.

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  22. the urban development in Australia is shaped by some key elements , they are:
    1 , the integrated planning system
    2, the long range planning
    3, heavy land use zonation
    4, private investment for the provision of state strategies.
    I believe that, there are some ideas that New Zealand is worth to have a try for. The private investment to flesh out state strategy will also be good for New Zealand . currently New Zealand still heavily depends on automobile and in my opinion, we need more public transport to meet the future population demand in Auckland, and the public transport investment will mainly from the private investment, and if local government can adopt such ideas, it will be highly beneficial for the New Zealand

    Haoran Guo