WSD is provided as a tool to assist Auckland's transformation to a water sensitive city.
To accomplish this, WSD must integrate with urban design best practices (discussed below) to balance natural and built environments and achieve a 'liveable' city.
The New Zealand Urban Design Protocol (2005) is a central government initiative to improve the quality of the urban environment. Signatories to the Protocol include central and local government agencies, developers and design professionals. The urban design discipline involves all aspects of towns and cities, ranging in scale from region to towns, individual streets, public spaces and buildings. Urban design looks at the environmental, economic and socio-cultural consequence of design decisions (MfE, 2005). The MfE sets out seven essential urban design qualities, known as the '7 Cs':
Context - The contribution individual buildings, places and spaces make to towns and cities
Character - Enhancing distinctive character, heritage and identity for urban environments
Choice - Ensuring diversity and choice for people
Connections - Enhancing a variety of networks to link people together
Creativity - Encouraging innovative and imaginative solutions
Custodianship - Ensuring design is environmentally sustainable, safe and healthy
Collaboration - Sharing knowledge across sectors, professions and with communities.
There is significant crossover between WSD and urban design principles, including the following aspects:
- Both practices foster inter-disciplinary approaches and integrated design processes.
- WSD promotes clustering or intensification of built form to protect ecosystem resources at the catchment and regional scale. Urban design seeks the same outcome to accommodate transit and mixed use centres.
- Both practices support design innovation.
- Sustainability is a guiding paradigm for both practices to provide for future generations and to optimise a city's resource base.
- WSD and urban design favour flexible regulatory provisions for land use planning.
- Both support community forms that are less dependent on automobiles for connectivity.
There is a perceived conflict between urban design, which promotes dense urban form to achieve an activated and connected community, and WSD, which promotes greater open space and the preservation of natural drainage patterns. These are not necessarily divergent views at larger planning scales (i.e. the catchment or region), where both practices seek to intensify development within appropriate areas (i.e. transit-oriented centres), while preserving a supporting environmental framework in other more sensitive or valuable environments.
Auckland has a challenge to respond to significant growth pressures (predictions account for the population doubling in the next 20-30 years), while achieving a 'liveable' city environment. In combination, urban design and WSD will support the region's future growth and development by promoting appropriate urban form with protected and enhanced natural freshwater systems.