A French urban planning expert is in New Zealand this week, courtesy of think-tank the New Zealand Initiative.

Alain Bertaud, a global urban planning expert, disagrees with the compact city planning model being used in Auckland and Christchurch and is visiting those cities and Wellington.

He is formerly a planner for the World Bank and has worked in Tehran, Hong Kong and St Petersburg.

Bertaud says compactness cannot be created by planners.

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"The urban village model exists only in the mind of urban planners," he says, adding that mobility and affordability suffer.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown wants to contain up to 70 per cent of urban growth within existing boundaries.