top of page

Speaking at Day 2 

Cities and Health - Role of research and design in creating sustainable and healthy cities

Lee Beattie
Deputy Head of School of Architecture and Planning, University of Auckland, New Zealand

Lee is a practicing urban designer and urban planner with over 25 years' professional experience.  He has qualifications in urban planning, urban design, and environmental science.  Lee is currently the Deputy Head of the School of Architecture and Planning and the Director of their Master of Urban Design Programme.  He specializes in urban design and urban planning policy implementation and evaluation, growth management and housing issues. Lee's research interests include urban design and urban planning policy development, implementation and evaluation.  He is currently involved in a number of research projects considering a range of urban design implementation issues including considering the role that master planning and urban design panels play in ensuring urban design quality. Lee is actively involved in the urban design and urban planning professions in New Zealand. He is a rotating Chair of the Auckland Council's Urban Design Panel, an Auckland Council and Queenstown Lakes Independent Planning Hearing Commissioner, secretary of the Urban Design Forum and a member of the Salmon Resource Management Act 1991 Editorial Board.

Insight from "Towards Healthy Cities in the Age of Pandemics"

As life returned to normal in New Zealand, rather than ‘return to business as usual’, Lee saw this as an opportunity to change, to reflect on how urban planners and designers could design better public spaces and manage the public realm better, in order to create liveable and walkable communities with active travel options. 


One of Lee’s first realizations of COVID was how un-resilient parts of the urban systems were, the pandemic highlighted underlying problems in societies, such as access to affordable housing, access to technology, homelessness, but also the social costs of social dislocation, and the issue of building housing blocks on productive soils. The concepts of liveability and resilience were well discussed on documents and policies, but the reality is car-centric areas and city growth patterns. Post-COVID is a chance to create a new urban form, and to set in place policies and plans that would create a different set of normative behaviour and actions and sustainable resilient communities. Lee also identified several barriers to change, including the preference for large single stand-alone houses, the perception of loss of property values, balancing affordability and negative gearing of the housing market, the need for stronger state intervention, and the ability for the industry to build non-generic housing. As a professional and educator, Lee believed that this is the time to capture the narrative and steer it into the direction of delivering liveable, sustainable, and resilient local communities.

bottom of page