The value of urban design: the economic, environmental and social benefits of urban design

Design Landscape design Urban planning New Zealand
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The Value of Urban Design aims to establish whether there is a persuasive case for urban design – the design of the buildings, places, spaces and networks (both public and private) that make up our towns and cities, and the ways people use them.

Is there value to be gained through good urban design? What kinds of value does it offer, and how can New Zealand’s towns and cities benefit? The Value of Urban Design seeks to answer these questions by:

  • Examining a wide range of international and local documentary evidence about the range of benefits and costs associated with urban design. While there is relatively little quantitative evidence in this field, The Value of Urban Design focuses strongly on empirical evidence derived from robust scientific studies. It also takes account of the views and judgements of recognised experts in the field, but discounts anecdotal evidence. It does not attempt to provide a cost-benefit analysis of urban design.
  • Evaluating the merits of claims commonly made about the economic, social and environmental effects of urban design.
  • Clarifying the nature of urban design and what, realistically, it can deliver in the context of New Zealand’s towns and cities.

The Value of Urban Design has been commissioned by the Ministry for the Environment (the Ministry), with the Wellington City Council and the Auckland Regional Council. It is one of several documents that support the Ministry’s New Zealand Urban Design Protocol (March 2005).

It is intended to assist both the public and private sectors. Public agencies will find it helpful in formulating policy, setting development objectives and evaluating projects that affect the urban environment. It will also assist developers and property investors to gain an understanding of the less tangible costs and benefits of the urban developments they initiate. 

Publication Details


Publication place:
Wellington, New Zealand