A more comprehensive and holistic set of measures is needed to assess and report on the capability, functionality and “health” of New Zealand’s cities and towns, according to the New Zealand Planning Institute (NZPI).
NZPI chief executive David Curtis welcomed the recent PWC report on “Competitive Cities”, saying it will contribute to much needed debate on what makes a great and “competitive” city in New Zealand.
However, Mr Curtis says the measures used must be much wider than the affordability and availability of housing, and of employment.
“Functional cities and towns create great spaces for people to live, work and play, celebrate their culture and facilitate engagement with their communities,” Mr Curtis says.
“As such, they are an essential element of overall well-being in New Zealand. A significant proportion of our population lives in urban areas, so when these are functioning well, that’s good for the whole nation, economically and culturally.”
Mr Curtis says the ability of cities to attract and retain residents — their “competitiveness” — is very much influenced by the availability of housing and employment.
However, other factors are as important to help New Zealand cities compete against, say, Australian cities, for the skilled workers needed to fuel economic growth, innovation and development.
“Climate, schooling, the availability of recreational facilities and open spaces, public transport, the physical layout of the urban space, access to cultural facilities, and even food and entertainment all influence where people choose to live, and on how well that city and the people in it function — how “healthy” those cities are.
“To effectively measure all of those interacting and often complex factors, a more holistic set of measures is required.
“The NZPI considers the development of these measures is the natural role of the new Ministry for Housing and Urban Development (MHUD), and that it should take the lead on this.
“The collection of this data would be invaluable for ongoing urban planning, including informing the Urban Development Authority, and help ensure that when our cities’ “competitiveness” is measured, all the factors that make an urban space great for the people that live in it are considered.”