DUNEDIN: We’re short(!) but here is some UK nous…

Dunedin City has New Zealand’s largest historic heritage resource.

The following is taken from three pages of the English Heritage HELM Historic Environment Local Management website:

1. Tall Buildings
2. Regeneration
3. Building in Context



Guidance on tall buildings update
The English Heritage and Design Council CABE 2007 joint Guidance on tall buildings is a material consideration in the determination of planning applications for tall buildings.

Guidance on tall buildings
Guidance on Tall Buildings sets out how English Heritage and Design Council CABE evaluate and consider proposals for tall buildings. It also offers advice on good practice in relation to tall buildings in the planning process. Both organisations recommend that local planning authorities use it to inform policy making and to evaluate planning applications for tall buildings where the appropriate policies are not yet in place and the Government has endorsed this guidance.

This revised version was endorsed by Government on 26 July 2007. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Mr. Iain Wright) said:
“In conjunction with my colleague the Minister for Culture, Creative Industries and Tourism, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, I would like to bring to the attention of the House the guidance note on tall buildings prepared jointly by English Heritage and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), which is published today. This updates and supersedes previous guidance published in 2003 and reflects changes to the planning system since that time.

The Government’s aim is to ensure local planning authorities are getting the right developments in the right places, which we consider to be a fundamental part of creating places where people will want to live and work, now and in the future. Recent reforms to the planning system have helped to reinforce this message, making clear that all new development should be of good quality and designed in full appreciation of its surroundings and context. Tall buildings, in the right places and appropriately designed, can make positive contributions to our cities.

The Government therefore welcome this updated guidance, which will assist local planning authorities when evaluating planning applications for tall buildings, including, importantly, the need for effective engagement with local communities. It also places a greater emphasis on the contribution that design can make to improving the character and quality of an area. It offers good practice guidance to a range of stakeholders in relation to tall buildings in the planning process, provides practical advice on achieving well-designed solutions in the right places, and is capable of being material to the determination of planning applications. Copies of the documents are being placed in the Libraries of both Houses.”

The Guidance and the National Planning Policy Framework
The approach set out in the Guidance is consistent with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). At the heart of the NPPF is the presumption in favour of “sustainable development”. Pursuing sustainable development involves seeking improvements to the quality of the built and historic environment (paragraph 9) as well as economic, social and environmental progress generally. Paragraph 17 identifies 12 core principles that should underpin both plan making and decision taking, including securing high quality design and a good standard of amenity for all existing and future occupants of land and buildings, taking account of the different roles and character of different areas; conserving heritage assets in a manner appropriate to their significance.

The Government attaches great importance to the design of the built environment. Permission should be refused for development of poor design that fails to take the opportunities available for improving the character and quality of an area and the way it functions (paragraphs 56 and 64). Planning decisions should ensure amongst other things that developments respond to local character and history (paragraph 58). Planning decisions should also address connections between people and places and the integration of new development into the historic environment (paragraph 61).

Local Planning Authorities should set out their strategic priorities for the area which should include strategic policies to deliver the conservation and enhancement of the natural and historic environment, including landscape (paragraph 156). Crucially, local plans should identify land where development would be inappropriate, for instance because of its environmental or historic significance. They need to contain a clear strategy for enhancing the natural, built and historic environment where they have been identified. – paragraph 157. This follows on from the requirement that local plans should set out the opportunities for development and clear policies on what will or will not be permitted and where (paragraph 154).

It is also important to note that local planning authorities should have up to date evidence about the historic environment in their area and use it to assess the significance of heritage assets and the contribution they make to their environment (paragraph 169).

Guidance on tall buildings 2007 (71 KB)



The historic environment is the context within which new development happens. Major inner city renewal, rural diversification, edge of village development, traffic calming measures: all have the potential to enhance or degrade the existing environment and to generate time- and resource-hungry conflict. An early understanding of the character and value of the historic environment prevents conflict and maximises the contribution historic assets can make to future economic growth and community well-being.

Conservation-led regeneration encourages private-sector investment both by retaining businesses in an area and by providing an incentive to relocate to it. Putting resources into a neighbourhood because of the value of what is already there, rather than labelling it as deprived, builds community and business confidence. So do works to improve the maintenance of the public realm of streetscape and public parks and gardens.

Understanding how places change, what makes them distinctive and the significance of their history is the key to regeneration. The historic environment is part of successful regeneration because it contributes to:

Investment: Historic places attract companies to locate, people to live, businesses to invest and tourists to visit. Market values in historic areas are higher than elsewhere.

Sense of place: People enjoy living in historic places. There is often greater community cohesion.

Sustainability: Re-use of historic buildings minimises the exploitation of resources. There is evidence of lower maintenance costs for older houses.

Quality of life: The historic environment contributes to quality of life and enriches people’s understanding of the diversity and changing nature of their community.

Planning for regeneration and renewal requires strong, effective partnerships at local and regional level. Local authorities play a central part in the management of the historic environment. The Local Authority Historic Environment Services pages give more information about the role of local authorities.

Conservation-led regeneration is successful because places matter to people. Neighbourhood renewal works because the quality of the places in which people live directly affects their quality of life. When communities are helped to develop their own sense of what matters for them, and why, the results can transform a neighbourhood and act as a catalyst for further private- and public-sector investment.

Further reading
Regeneration and the Historic Environment
Heritage & Spin-off benefits
Heritage Works
Regeneration in Coastal Towns

English Heritage Regeneration Policy
The Heritage Dynamo: how the voluntary sector drives regeneration
Prince’s Trust Regeneration Through Heritage Handbook



Building in Context was published jointly by English Heritage and CABE (the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) in 2001. It aims to stimulate a high standard of design when development takes place in historically sensitive contexts. It aims to do this by example, showing a series of case studies in which achievement is far above the ordinary. As a result, it is hoped that people will be encouraged to emulate the commitment and dedication shown by the clients, architects, planning officers and committee members involved in the projects illustrated and be able to learn from their experience.

The belief underlying the publication is that the right approach is to be found in examining the context for any proposed development in great detail and relating the new building to its surroundings through an informed character appraisal. This does not imply that any one architectural approach is, by its nature, more likely to succeed than any other. On the contrary, it means that as soon as the application of a simple formula is attempted a project is likely to fail, whether that formula consists of ‘fitting in’ or ‘contrasting the new with the old’.

A successful project will:

● Relate well to the geography and history of the place and the lie of the land
● Sit happily in the pattern of existing development and routes through and around it
● Respect important views
● Respect the scale of neighbouring buildings
● Use materials and building methods which are as high in quality as those used in existing buildings
● Create new views and juxtapositions which add to the variety and texture of the setting.

The right approach involves a whole process in addition to the work of design, from deciding what is needed, through appointing the architect, to early discussions with and eventual approval by the planning authority.

Collaboration, mutual respect and a shared commitment to the vision embodied in the project will be needed if the outcome is to be successful. The report came to a number of conclusions:

● All successful design solutions depend on allowing time for a thorough site analysis and careful character appraisal of the context
● The best buildings result from the creative dialogue between the architect, client, local planning authority and others; pre-application discussions are essential
● The local planning authority and other consultees can insist upon good architecture and help to achieve it
● Difficult sites should generate good architecture, and are not an excuse for not achieving it
● With skill and care, it is possible to accommodate large modern uses within the grain of historic settings
● High environmental standards can help generate good architecture
● Sensitivity to context and the use of traditional materials are not incompatible with contemporary architecture
● Good design does not stop at the front door, but extends into public areas beyond the building
● High-density housing does not necessarily involve building high or disrupting the urban grain and it can be commercially highly successful
● Successful architecture can be produced either by following precedents closely, by adapting them or by contrasting with them
● In a diverse context a contemporary building may be less visually intrusive than one making a failed attempt to follow historic precedents

The above are extracts from the document, which was written by Francis Golding. The case studies were chosen to cover a wide range of different uses, locations, architectural approaches and processes. Each case study looks at the project as a whole, the site, the problems, the solutions and the lessons learnt.

The full text of Building in Context and its case studies are available on-line from the PDF version of the document.

Building in context: New development in historic areas (2.94 MB)

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Architecture, Business, Construction, Design, Economics, Geography, Heritage, Inspiration, Name, People, Project management, Property, Site, Town planning, Urban design, What stadium

31 responses to “DUNEDIN: We’re short(!) but here is some UK nous…

  1. Elizabeth

    2012 Residents’ Opinion Survey (note from summary):

    Residents were most likely to perceive that Dunedin maintains and preserves its architectural heritage (65%) is a creative city (60%) and recognises and supports cultural diversity (59%).


  2. Elizabeth

    [LUC-2012-212 Betterways Advisory Limited, 41 Wharf Street, Dunedin]
    And yet, we have some blowhard like the chief executive of Tourism Dunedin (which receives funding from DCC) fully supporting the hotel tower – because? We’re forced to admit, he doesn’t know any better.

    Thanks then, to the wise one who often cuts to the chase – who smartly asks, if Tourism Dunedin supports the tower does that mean DCC supports the tower?

    Politically, the answer is YES. And, even more politically… we then have the ‘towering’ measure of doubt, difficult to dispel… as to DCC’s lack of bias (or not) in determining who will be the hearing committee or panel of commissioner(s).

    The commissioners for Plan Change 8 – Stadium Zone were charged with delivering a certain result. Which they ‘managed’.

    For the hotel application, can the DCC hearing process deliver a safe decision if those assessing submissions are shown to demonstrate conflicts of interest or bias. [see the bulldozer effect of PC8]

    Hope DCC has finished counting all those submissions received.
    December or later is going to be a fine old time.

  3. Anonymous

    Hundreds of submissions against the council’s preferred outcome never got in the way of former Stadium Councillor Michael Guest.

    Councillors who ignored the majority response and still on council are:

    Bill Acklin
    John Bezett
    Syd Brown
    Neil Collins
    Paul Hudson
    Andrew Noone
    Colin Weatherall


    Welcome to the remaining seven Stadium Councillors who have also added their names in support of the hotel.

    Who’s interests do you think they’re working for this time?


  4. Anonymous

    (Interesting to note the ODT has yet to include a comment that corrects this statement the “majority of submissions were in support of retaining the council’s policy”. This was wrong and the submissions were in support of the sinking lid policy. It’s a horrid story, full of the usual supportive reporting associated with any loss of sporting funding from pokies gambling – http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/88394/gambling-policy-review-throws-division.)

  5. Hype O'Thermia

    Somebody, please can you put here the dead-tree letter to the editor from an excitable architect who signs himself Nick Baker but is possibly John Clarke (see http://mrjohnclarke.com/projects/clarke-dawe if you haven’t been following his current work).
    “…I am excited at the prospect of our city receiving its second [skyscraper]….opportunity to break the railway barrier between city and water by opening up the Rattray St crossing and linking the hotel’s podium level with the previously mooted walkway, cycleway bridge concept….”

    It’s got to be satire – hasn’t it?

    Or doesn’t this chirpy ninny realise that all this linking could be done IF the city had enough money, and IF the reason for closing the Rattray St crossing was the city’s lack of a oversized plastic cereal box fuglifying the waterfront?

    Does he seriously think the hotel moneybags will pay for said linking? Does he understand money, specifically the limitations on trees and in colour coordinated windowboxes from which the DCC – and ratepayers – can pick it whenever a pants-wettingly exciting idea comes along?

    • Elizabeth

      That’s Nick Baker of Baker Garden Architects. Nick obviously doesn’t support the submission of the local branch of New Zealand Institute of Architects, NZIA Southern. He can step out of that realm freely as an independent registered architect. Nick chaired NZIA Southern for part of my terms on that committee. He was on the button with the committee for submissions on harbourside, and the arterial. As an individual he enjoys bold architectural gestures, that’s fine. However, these need to be in context, and the economic effects honestly spelled out to determine if there is sufficient ‘public good’ in committing public funds in association with the so-called level of private investment.

      Anonymous, as a bright person said in a meeting today, the Councillors’ experience of finance pretty much amounts to managing their home mortgages (for some, not even that…), their brains and capability does not extend to the implications of high finance and exercise of fiscal prudence with public funds (rates). Ugly babes in the woods.

      Hype, the letter will appear here later today, as Nick’s advance obituary.

  6. Hype O'Thermia

    Oh dear, so we haven’t spawned a brilliant new satirist. I’d been hoping….

  7. Anonymous

    At least he noted the small elephant in the room – the absolute burning need for a pedestrian rail crossing at the Chinese Gardens. Burning need, that is, should the Wharf St Hotel go ahead.

    I note from the updated article in the ODT today that Queens Gardens – Octagon will become an “improved link”. I wonder what that entails? Moving walkways? Relocating one or more of the endpoints?

  8. Hype O'Thermia

    Isn’t there some kind of – um – statuey thing in the pathway as drawn? Tunnel or overbridge whadda reckon? Or improved curved extension to skateboarders’ playground?
    Overbridge could be incorporated into a viewing tower, the one that somehow didn’t meet the criteria for pointless rates spending as a stand-alone “vision”.

    • Elizabeth

      Arrrgh. I can see Cr Sydney fondling this vision. Can’t get this outa my head.

      • Elizabeth

        Another pertinent point from the bright one at meeting today (paraphrasing):

        I want to lie that hotel down… on its side.

        • Elizabeth

          ### ch9.co.nz October 10, 2012 – 7:03pm
          Guest nights remain flat
          Guest night figures for the South Island appear to be remaining flat, after a drop mid-year. Adjusted for seasonal variation, the figures show guest nights for August were unchanged following a 3.8% drop the month before. Nationally, guest nights have been declining since late 2009. Statistics New Zealand says international guest night numbers appear to be rising this year, since a low point in March.
          Ch9 Link

          Soooo, Tourism Dunedin (aka DCC) wants a new tower hotel.

  9. Mike

    the big unexplained thing here is: if you get rid of the one way (and presumably channel all the nice new 4 lane motorway traffic down to 3 lanes of Cumberland St – how do you hook up the overbridge to be useful (and what does that cost?)

  10. Anonymous

    ‘The New Zealand cabinet has sacked the entire local government of the southern city of Dunedin to stop it from coming under the direct control of the local Tartan Mafia.’ – http://www.stuff.co.nz/oddstuff/7795782/Italys-government-fires-local-council-over-mafia-ties (*).

    * Apologies for any typos that may have appeared in reproducing that introduction here.

  11. Hype O'Thermia

    Some nice thinking here in a comment on ODT Online, though a later contributor points out the practical flaw, mainly that this Chinese money would not be available for the purpose:

    Deeply in favour
    Submitted by wonderpup on Wed, 10/10/2012 – 7:49am.
    I’m deeply for more high-grade accommodation for people in Dunedin. A generic hotel that provides the same experience of every other hotel in the world isn’t the way to do it.
    A constructive alternative might be to offer the same amount of investment to a cooperative of small hotel owners to upgrade and increase capacity all over the city, and provide a centralised booking and management system. Dunedin would become the place you get to choose a modern apartment on the peninsula, a gothic hotel in town, or a bach on the beach. Service would make the difference, and the cooperative would license and train staff to the highest level possible.

  12. Hype O'Thermia

    Dunedin isn’t likely to be a mass tourism destination, which is just as well because we’re better to concentrate on doing small-scale things very very well. With small hotels offering very good rooms and service we could be providing what Dunedin does well, personal friendliness, genuine interest in the guests and local know-how to point them in the direction of minority-interest sights and experiences instead of Think Big tourist attractions targeted at The Generic Tourist. During the Rugby World Cup I met some of the overseas visitors in small bars round town and they remarked on what a nice friendly place we have here.

  13. Calvin Oaten

    Hype: We already had a number of boutique private hotel / home stay establishments until, a few years back the friendly ‘gnomes’ in the DCC decided to rate them out of existence. So forget about development along the lines you suggest.

  14. Hype O'Thermia

    Yes, typical. If it’s not a Think Big Vision to solve all Dunedin’s problems in one go, we’re not interested. Moreover, we’re so thoroughly not interested we’ll sabotage individuals’ initiatives for the sake of short-term money-grabbing.

  15. Phil

    Baker Garden have been the consultant architects to the DCC for years. Mark Garden was employed as a DCC architect prior to teaming up with Nick Baker, bringing most of the DCC architectural business with him. Hence the slight conflict of interest in Nick’s comments, but that’s about par around here these days.

    • Elizabeth

      Letters to the editor, ODT 10.10.12 (page 8)

      [OCR scan]

      Prospect of another skyscraper exciting
      Having spent the last 20 years working from an office in Dunedin’s first skyscraper, I am excited at the prospect of our city receiving its second. I am also excited at the opportunity to finally link the city to the waterfront that this hotel proposal brings. Our beautiful harbour has been taken for granted by many of Dunedin’s citizens, but not me. I have spent my life playing on it and in it, running and biking around it.
      The proposed hotel site Offers [sic] the opportunity to break the railway barrier between city and water by opening up the Rattray 8t crossing and linking the hotel’s podium level with the previously mooted walkway, cycleway bridge concept.
      The design of any high-rise buildings is not an easy task and this one will require the same care and consideration that was given to its predecessor.
      One skyscraper per 100 years seems like measured enough development to me.
      Nick Baker FNZIA
      Architect Dunedin

      Baker Garden Architects (BGA) work out of Consultancy House, 7 Bond St, Dunedin.

  16. amanda

    Wonderpup does make an excellent suggestion. Boutique hotels are a good idea, but who would that benefit? With stadium councillors’ main goal being to help ratefunds get into mates’ hands and Greater Dunedin all limp wristed, I don’ think coming up with smart quirky ideas is what our present council is interested in hearing. If stakeholders could make some money out of those smaller hotels no doubt it would get the green light, or may be wonderpup should rephrase it to somehow support corporate rugby? that also works in this town.

    • Elizabeth

      As submitted to ODT Online.

      Lack of economic information
      Submitted by ej kerr on Thu, 11/10/2012 – 3:42pm.

      The siting of the proposed tower hotel at the Steamer Basin is peculiar, in the absence of public sightings of Anderson & Co’s latest ‘master plan’ for the new Harbourside Zone and the blocks south. Maybe we’re to be assailed at the resource consent hearing, by supergraphics from the Andersons exposing how Dunedin MUST look, because the ‘common garden variety’ ratepayers and residents don’t know what’s good for them.

      That the Dunedin City Council has failed to request from the Applicant a full economic impact assessment for the one-off(?) proposal, as well as expecting the Applicant to engage in public consultation and discussion with affected parties before the pre application stage completes, is extraordinary but hardly surprising. But, given the subject site at 41 Wharf St is in immediate proximity to the harbour arterial, an off ramp for Jetty St overbridge, the ‘public place’ of the Cross Wharf – and the general wharf area that the public clearly stated it wants access to (via submissions to Plan Change 7: Dunedin Harbourside) – and, the statutorily delineated Dunedin Harbourside Historic Area.

      The elected Council’s position on the proposed tower is currently being levered up by the councillors who voted for the new Stadium, the mayor, and the mouthpiece of Tourism Dunedin. I do not consider any of them to have appropriate knowledge or expertise in managing high finance, as the stadium books and council’s consolidated debt position clearly shows.

      Those writers of comments and letters to the newspaper who claim the proposed tower is fully privately funded have no proof. If they know anything of tower construction for tight city sites, they will know the sort of money and services needing to be put to development by the Council, for infrastructure services – it is considerable. That’s a direct cost to the ratepayers of our city.

      [The following ‘ending’ was abridged by ODT]

      Because the Mayor of Dunedin is in electioneering mode, because he and the Council’s chief executive have already mentioned rolling out “red carpet” to this ‘private’ project, you have to know Council dollars (via rate funds) are involved.

      The Dunedin City Council has never been so transparent.

  17. Alan Bec haute Normandie

    Old Times at Tennyson Heights/The Moray Precinct may be the city’s best cultural/historic place. Includes The Temple/Synagogue, View “it makes me tired” Street, and tales of Knights Templar at the former Lodge off Tennyson. Then its down the stoneway to Princes, and the old Excelsior.

  18. May Auckland love its “gift” in its usually brash and excitable way. Just shove ’em up anywhere that needs a penis. Chinese developer New Development Group is to build the NDG Auckland Centre tower.

    ### ODT Online Wed, 12 Feb 2014
    Plans unveiled for NZ’s tallest skyscraper
    Plans for New Zealand’s tallest skyscaper, to rise in the heart of Auckland, have been unveiled today. A $350 million 52-level 209m skyscraper has been announced for a CBD site left vacant since the 1980s when Chase Corporation demolished the Royal International Hotel.
    Auckland Council has granted resource consent for the giant which will only be dwarfed by the 328m Sky Tower. A building consent is still pending.
    Read more + Image

  19. Peter

    The photos above really show the uniqueness of Auckland, don’t they? Where else in the world would you see car parking lots and tall buildings… and now they have another one in the making. I could walk around this kind of area, all day, protected from the sun by the shade of the surrounding skyscrapers and experiencing that adrenalin rush of wind challenging me as I walk down the street.
    I love these Chinese developers – or any developer – who want to create a Little Shanghai, or Detroit, in downtown Auckland…..or Dunedin. This is going to be great for Auckland because they can proudly show off another tall skyscraper. ‘Build it and they will come’ to the CBD in their hordes for a taste of real New Zealand.
    Thank you for your gift. (Is there a room for Len Brown in this new penis development?)

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