Yesterday it was revealed that the Council’s Design Champion, Ludo Campbell Reid has resigned.
Auckland Council’s General Manager of the Auckland Design Office, Ludo Campbell-Reid, has resigned from his role and will depart on Friday, 4 October.
Ludo has served Auckland for 13 years – he was appointed Auckland City Council’s first ever Design Champion in 2006 following recommendations of The Mayoral Task Force on Urban Design.
Following amalgamation he was appointed by the Auckland Transition Agency to lead the Environmental Strategy and Policy Department. In 2014 he was appointed to General Manager (Design Champion) of the Auckland Design Office.
“Along with my family, I have made the difficult decision to resign from my role. With the third term of Auckland Council coming to a close, it feels like a natural time for new adventures, both professionally and personally,” says Ludo.
“I have absolutely loved the last 13 years – it has been an incredible ride from the days of the pre-amalgamated city to the heady, fast-paced and exciting time of the new super city where we achieved many historic firsts.
“I’m tremendously proud of what the Auckland Design Office and the urban design programme has achieved and when I look back, I know that the city has been set on a new path and Auckland is in a much better position than when I found it. As an Urban Designer and City Planner nothing could be more satisfying.”
Ludo and his ADO team have made a massive contribution to the city and changed it for the better, particularly through projects such as the shared spaces and Lightpath.
His team also developed the 2012 City Centre Masterplan and are behind the current refresh that looks to make the city centre more pedestrian friendly through initiatives such as Access for Everyone.
Sadly, Ludo had increasingly become the focus of attacks by those who oppose all the positive changes to the city and quite substantially by Mayoral candidate John Tamihere.
What’s worrying is this is the second high-profile council officer to leave in less than a month with the Council’s Chief Sustainability Officer, John Mauro, leaving in September. In an interview with Stuff it was clear there was a lot of frustration at a lack of progress with comments such as:
- “What I see is a trend toward show-ponying,“;
- “We’ve got some good champions in our local elected officials, but there doesn’t seem to be a critical mass of people wanting to drive the ambition.“;
- “We go half way, we build some great projects and then we start hearing from people how crazy and radical we are, then we pull back and get scared.”
It has often appeared that both Ludo and John (and their teams) were trying to do good things but were often thwarted, fought or just not supported by others within the council and Auckland Transport who are more worried about moving cars, upsetting the usual complainers or trying to serve their own egos. In part I wonder if it’s because these teams, and particularly the ADO, kind of sit outside the more rigid council structures. For example, much of ADOs work involves changes to streets but those streets are technically ATs responsibility and (in the past at least) they’ve been fiercely opposed to ADO getting involved.
So as we continue to reinvent this city for the next generation it is more important than ever that we have people who can champion the city along with good urban design and planning. If anything, those roles need to be beefed up to help cut through the bureaucratic quagmire inside council. This would put Auckland in line with most large cities, where there are dedicated roles for this and who, like Ludo was, is the public face of design, planning and even strategy.
Not replacing Ludo and absorbing the ADO into the council and/or Auckland Transport would be one of the worst things council could do in this space – a sure-fire way of stifling progress. Perhaps if anything the council should combine all of the individual design teams from the council as well as all the CCOs into a single group that is then used by all council organisations so there’s not a case of different design teams ‘fighting’ each other.
If the council does choose a new champion/s it’s also important that person is supported. We’ve frequently seen the council supporting change at a high level but then, as John notes, getting scared the moment we try to implement anything a few vocal people complain. Often this results in the council undermining themselves and their stated goals and an example of this recently was Phil Goff’s non-committal of support speed limit changes in the city to improve road safety.
Anyway, All the best Ludo and let’s hope that whoever replaces you will be up to the task of championing the city and good urban design.