New research shows New Zealanders want and need better planned cities

Many New Zealanders want more and better inner-city housing, even if those with kids generally want a bigger house, further out. And Kiwis don’t want urban expansion to continue unchecked. There is strong support for councils limiting urban development, promoting the quality of urban centres, and providing better conditions for the walker and the cyclist.

These are some of the findings in a book on sustainable urban form and transport.

‘Sizing Up the City: Urban form and transport in New Zealand’ is published by the New Zealand Centre for Sustainable Cities in Wellington.

Jan Logie says the book’s launch is timely, as the Government is considering changes to urban planning frameworks, including metropolitan limits.

‘Sizing up the City’ covers a range of issues. One chapter reports on a survey which found that most people (54%) think that urban limits are necessary so that cities develop more sustainably (15% disagree). By 2 to 1, New Zealanders thought councils (rather than market forces) should have the key role in defining the limits of the city.

The ‘Shape NZ’ survey showed that many young adults and older New Zealanders have a preference for living in the city, while families with children strongly prefer the suburbs. However, underlying this is a growing preference for mixed use communities where access to work and facilities is easier. The possibility of rising petrol prices is a factor in some people’s choice of where to live.

“The book will make a real contribution to the debate about urban planning at an important time”, Jan Logie says. Recently, the Minister for the Environment announced two technical advisory groups, on urban and infrastructure issues.

“The book’s contributors, New Zealand and overseas researchers, show that our cities’ structures, housing needs and transport networks affect our health and wellbeing, as well as New Zealand’s economic development,” Logie underlines. “The evidence is emerging that more compact urban form helps to give people better transport options by reducing distances travelled, cleaner air, less carbon emissions, and better health outcomes through increased walking and cycling.”

Buy the book from Steele Roberts