'Intensification vs urban sprawl' : the cultural pull towards low density suburban living : a dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Resource and Environmental Planning at Massey University
With the population of the Auckland region expected to reach 2 million people within the next 50 years, the physical form of the city is topical. The Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) and various other planning documents for the region apply New Urbanist principles of urban design, including compact development, and alternative transports. The focus of the current research looks generally at peoples preferred growth patterns. From the research conducted the following major themes emerged: - Renters and/or younger respondents favoured peripheral growth over compact; - Home Owners and/or older respondents favoured compact growth over continued peripheral growth; although compact development was only slightly preferred over peripheral and both options combined; - Planners strongly preferred compact development, yet none of those questioned chose this option for themselves; and, - Space, privacy, social issues, rural and natural values and proper provision of infrastructure were strong themes of discussion from all the respondent groups. The findings also illustrated a lack of appreciation from the general public of the benefits of medium density housing. Education and experience could enhance this understanding and reduce opposition to intensive developments in existing neighbourhoods. Finding a common link between 'consolidationists' and 'expansionists' is vital to the success of the RGS. Many of the concepts raised in support of compact development, including adequate provision of infrastructure, protection of rural and natural values and improved transport are likely to be positive outcomes of successful implementation of the RGS. The physical size of the city is important with regard to these three issues, as well as socially. Social issues were used to justify continued peripheral development by the respondents choosing this option, however a compact city can equally produce positive social benefits. For example 'walkability' positively impacts on public health and good urban design can encourage social interaction. Physical size relates directly to these notions which are promoted through more intensive urban form. The interrelationship between reasons for and against compact development should be more closely examined in the public realm.