Costs, benefits and risks of two trajectories of urban development – compact or dispersed

The shape of urban development can have a big impact on outcomes in our cities, including housing affordability, economic activity, access to social amenities, quality of life, carbon emissions and other environmental impacts, energy use, commuting costs, choice of transport mode, physical activity and people’s health. We examine two urban development trajectories – compact (higher density, more diverse land use, infill-oriented) or dispersed (greenfield-oriented) development – in terms of these key outcomes.


Demand-side, supply-side and cost, and policy

This strand of research involves 11 linked projects. They can be grouped as studying demand-side, supply-side and cost, and policies to support compact cities to realise environmental and public health benefits. We work with city councils, property developers, and other parties who influence our urban development, and also survey the public. Together these studies contribute to an overall picture of the costs, benefits and risks of compact or dispersed urban development in New Zealand.


Ralph ChapmanNadine Dodge, Philippa Howden-Chapman, Alistair Woodward, Nick Preval, Kate Whitwell, Lucia Sobiecki, Freddie Holmes, Pattern Reid


Adams M, R Chapman (2016) Do denser urban areas save on infrastructure? Evidence from New Zealand territorial authorities, Policy Quarterly, 12, 4, November

Chapman R, P Howden-Chapman, A Capon (2016) Understanding the systemic nature of cities to improve health and climate change mitigation, (pdf) Environment International, 94, 380–387

Holmes F, R Chapman, N Dodge (2016) People’s panel survey – Auckland neighbourhood, housing, and travel preferences, (pdf) Victoria University of Wellington and New Zealand Centre for Sustainable Cities for Auckland Council

Preval N, E Randal, R Chapman, J Moores, P Howden-Chapman (2016) Streamlining urban housing development: Are there environmental sustainability impacts? Cities 55: 101–112

Sobiecki L, R Chapman (2016)  The future of Wellington’s bus fleet: The environmental and health implications of different upgrade options for Wellington’s bus fleet (pdf), NZCSC Policy Paper, Victoria University of Wellington and New Zealand Centre for Sustainable Cities, Wellington, May

Pettit T, N Dodge (2014) Cycling demand analysis: Full report, Wellington City Council, Wellington

Beetham J (2014) Re-cycling the streets: Exploring the allocation of public space for transport, Master of Environmental Studies thesis, Victoria University of Wellington

Randal E (2013) What makes a commuter cyclist? A mixed methods study of behavioural antecedents and perceptions of commuter cycling in the Wellington Region, Master of Environmental Studies, Victoria University of Wellington