We held a seminar with speakers Ralph Chapman, Sylvia Allan and Roger Blakeley. The speakers shared their informal preliminary reflections on the report by the New Zealand Productivity Commission, Better Urban Planning, which was released at the end of March. This was a joint event held with the School of Government, Victoria University of Wellington. View the event video.

The Productivity Commission’s long awaited report on urban planning, Better Urban Planning, was released at the end of March this year. It is a 400 page tome which ‘recommends a future planning system that would look quite different to current urban planning and resource management arrangements.’ The report’s recommendations could have significant implications for the way we plan our built and natural environments. We assembled a diverse group of speakers who work in the area of urban planning, in different capacities, to present to you their initial impressions on this very comprehensive report and what it might mean for the future of urban planning in New Zealand.

Presentations (PDF)


  • Ralph Chapman is an economist who has worked in government, the private sector and academia. He is director of the Graduate Programme in Environmental Studies, Victoria University of Wellington and is a researcher on climate change policies. Ralph is co-director of the NZ Centre for Sustainable Cities where his work focuses on urban form and implications for carbon emissions. He has become interested in practical ways of doing something about climate change – that is, mitigation policies in transport, energy, housing and cities.
  • Roger Blakeley is an elected member of Greater Wellington Regional Council and of Capital and Coast District Health Board. He was Chief Planning Officer, Auckland Council from the start of the governance reforms in 2010 until 2015. He led the development of the 30-year planning documents for Auckland: the Auckland Plan, Economic Development Strategy, City Centre Masterplan and Auckland Unitary Plan. Other positions that he has held include: Chief Executive, Porirua City Council; Chief Executive, Department of Internal Affairs; Chief Executive, Ministry for the Environment; and General Manager, State Coal Mines.
  • Sylvia Allan is an experienced town planner with a background in environmental science. She is a former President and Fellow of the New Zealand Planning Institute, holder of that Institute’s Distinguished Service Award and the first Nancy Northcroft Planning Practice Award. She was formerly technical planning lead for one of New Zealand’s multi-disciplinary engineering companies and now has her own business as a planning consultant, providing advice and assistance to central government agencies, councils, port and energy companies, industrial and commercial organisations, community groups and individuals. She has also had a very long involvement in community and planning issues in Wellington and further afield.

This event was held on 9 June 2017 at GBLT3, Pipitea Campus, 55 Lambton Quay, Wellington.

For more information please contact libby.grant@otago.ac.nz.

Housing & Building NZ Policy Transport Urban design & planning Urban Governance