Prepared by Carlton Eley, December 2003
with funding from the sponsors of the Ian Axford (New Zealand) Fellowships in Public Policy
Carlton Eley is a Senior Environmental Protection Specialist at the US Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, DC. Currently, he’s working on green jobs and green economic strategies within the Office of Sustainable Environmental Management. Carlton has served on community advisory services teams for Pamlico County, North Carolina; Gary, Indiana; and the Vecht River Valley in the Netherlands. His work in Gary, Indiana was recognized by the American Planning Association Divisions Council for “Contributions to the Profession.” Carlton has been commended by the Ford Foundation as a national expert on Regional Equity and Sustainable Metropolitan Communities. He has a BA in Sociology/Social Work Curriculum from Elizabeth City State University as well as a MS in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Iowa.
During Cartlon’s Ian Axford Fellowship exchange to New Zealand he was based at the Ministry for the Environment in Wellington, where he researched how local planning institutions and developers have responded to the New Zealand Resource Management Act, and where New Zealand communities stand in implementing smart growth.
The purpose of my research has been to learn about New Zealand approaches to facilitating smart growth. It is necessary to note that New Zealanders do not use the term smart growth when referring to initiatives to bring about sustainable urban form. Instead it is more common for New Zealanders to refer to terms like liveable communities, new urbanism, or sustainable urban design when discussing approaches to deal with the challenges of sprawling patterns of development.
My research objectives for the fellowship were to:
I journeyed to Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, and the Bay of Plenty sub-region and met with planners, Iwi management authorities, academics, urban designers, consultants, and other practitioners seeking to enhance community quality of life. In addition to learning about local efforts to manage growth, the fellowship presented the opportunity to take a closer look at smart growth related practices across New Zealand. See figure 19 in the Appendix for a map of the cities visited.
The research presented in this report is qualitative. District planners were interviewed to learn how the RMA has shaped planning practice in New Zealand. Strategies for managing growth were drawn from these interviews as well as literature collected from the cities visited. The score card exercise uses a checklist of smart growth principles. To assess how well each principle was met, the scorecard was modified to reference indicators from several existing smart growth score cards.
As an approach, smart growth addresses patterns of development that shape cities, suburbs, and rural settlements. Due to limitations in time, I did not have the opportunity to explore smart growth consistently across these dimensions while in New Zealand. The majority of my findings are limited to the inner city (downtown areas and abutting lands) of New Zealand’s major cities. Research from other sources has been used to offer a comprehensive perspective on the cities featured in this report.
It is not the intent of this report to sell the concept of smart growth in opposition to other approaches for achieving sustainability in New Zealand. It is an attempt to explain how smart growth concepts may be in evidence, and in some cases not. Certainly, differences in policy and economics may not allow a US model for smart growth to be wholly applied in New Zealand. Moreover, Kiwis will need to craft a sustainable approach that works for New Zealand. It is the intention of this report to promote public discussion about sustainable urban developments.
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