Good design for living is fundamentally about enabling people to mee the full spectrum of their human needs, and are universally applicable. What’s “ugly” or “looks good” is culturally and socially-defined, and varies lots over time, between people, and around the world.  This distinction applies to both the insides of a building and its outsides. Then there’s good urban environments (e.g. healthy streets, low traffic neighbourhoods, human-scaled spaces, connection to natural elements, etc).  The Density Done Well concept encompasses many of the fundamentals of good design for living in denser settlements (while problematically omitting a mana whenua dimension). 

Having said all that, any new multi-unit development will need a resource consent (see question 6), which means council officers scrutinise designs before granting consent. This process isn’t infallible: Wellington has plenty of examples of well-designed buildings and urban spaces, and lots that aren’t good – including new ones whose designs have been scrutinised by council officers.      

The short answer is: there’s no guarantee, but council say they’re going to pay more attention to good design, “residential amenity” and ensuring that new development makes a positive contribution to the neighbourhood.  Auckland has a Design Manual and Design Panel to improve the odds that new buildings are good quality design and appropriate for their context. We’d like to see something similar for Wellington.