Urban Design

What is urban design?

Urban design is the practice of arranging buildings, access and green spaces to provide areas for living, working, and playing in our towns and villages.

Good urban design can apply to whole towns or neighbourhoods within towns, as well as subdivisions and buildings on individual sites.

It is important that the region’s built environment is of a high standard that allows people to enjoy living, working and visiting the region.

Improving urban design is a priority for both Nelson City and Tasman District councils. Both are signatories to the New Zealand Urban Design Protocol.

The establishment of an Urban Design Panel is a key way of spearheading better urban design outcomes.

Urban Design Panel

The Urban Design Panel is a group of experienced and qualified professionals who provide free independent design reviews for projects from both private developers and the Councils.

While the Panel can’t decide on Resource Consent applications, it can provide expert advice and clear recommendations on the design of the proposal and how it might be improved well before a resource consent application is made. Panel assessment may also be available for proposals which do not require resource consent.

The Panel includes both local urban design expertise as well as other members who have served on a panel elsewhere in New Zealand.


Panel members will consider your project and provide constructive criticism, advice and a written report, including recommendations, within five days. Projects will be considered against best urban design practice and the urban design objectives and policies of the relevant Council.

The Panel may look at:

  • General design principles including scale, composition and architecture
  • Subdivision design, including recognition of the local context, and provision for diversity in housing and neighbourhood types
  • The relationship of the building to the street, public spaces and surrounding natural and built features
  • The design of pedestrian and vehicle entrances
  • The establishment and improvement of connectivity
  • The amenity and quality of outdoor spaces and places
  • How to integrate artworks into the development
  • Sustainability principles including lot layout and design, water heating, lighting, heating, stormwater management and energy use minimisation
  • Safety for users and passersby
  • Outlook, sunlight access, visual and acoustic privacy, ventilation, size and design
  • Protection of listed heritage buildings and sites
  • The process being undertaken through design and development to ensure a quality urban design outcome is achieved

The purpose of the Panel is not to delay projects or to create additional difficulties for developers. The idea is to provide urban design advice in a positive way that can assist in achieving a good design and help with any resource consent process. Panel members will be required to keep all information provided to them in their role confidential.


All developers who have projects with urban design significance are invited and encouraged to contact the relevant Council to seek advice from the Panel well before applying for resource consent or finalising the design. The Panel will also consider any Council capital project that has significant urban design implications.

The Councils are offering the services of the Panel especially to developers of:

  • comprehensive and compact residential developments
  • buildings in the commercial, mixed business, tourist services and central business zones
  • buildings in township gateway areas and
  • other major projects and subdivisions in the region


Attendance at the Urban Design Panel is voluntary and free. The Panel meets on demand and as required. Developers who wish to appear before the Panel should contact the representative at the appropriate Council.


Strategic Housing Adviser


City Development Administrator



Alistair Jewell - Principal Resource Consents Adviser
+64 3 543 7241 alistair.jewell@tasman.govt.nz

The councils will need a minimum of 3 weeks notice (15 working days) if you wish to present your design or development.


The specific information required from developers who wish to present to the Panel is outlined in the Urban Design Panel – Checklist that can be downloaded below. Submit the information to the Panel administrator a minimum of 2 weeks (10 working days) before the Panel’s meeting.
In general terms, your presentation to the Panel should:

  • Introduce the site in its context
  • Alert the panel to any issues connected with the design
  • Promotion of the strengths and weaknesses of the design
  • Provision of a rationale for the design choices that have been made and
  • Identify constraints


There is no charge if the development is considered by the Panel prior to a resource consent or building consent being lodged. The Panel costs of considering presentations made after lodging a resource consent or building consent will be the responsibility of the applicant.


Find out more

Contact either Nelson City Council on +64 3 546 0200 or Tasman District Council on +64 3 543 8400.


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