Tuesday, July 10, 2007

There is no global trend to increase density

We also need to firmly reject the claim that densifying cities is happening all over the world.

In a recent radio interview Professor Schlomo Angel, Adjunct Professor of Urban Planning, New York University said that densities are coming down in the great majority of cities all over the world. As people get richer they live better and for most living better means living in suburbs. Cities are not densifying, on the contrary they are reducing the densities, even in India, China, Sub-Saharan Africa.

Suburbs are expanding in all countries and are no longer something that you just find in the US and in Australia.

He says planners think their own cities are each a special case ... that they can densify. But there are no special cases. Planners have to recognise that cities are going to grow and and they have to prepare for it.

This used to be the case. The future population was projected, the area for growth decided upon and prepared. The minimal required preparation is an arterial road grid 1 km apart and rights of way acquired before the development occurs. If this is not done now will be impossible to do later. If development comes before the road then you can never get the road through.

He said something we have been saying for years. If you restrict the land on the periphery inevitably you increase land prices and housing becomes unaffordable and becomes unaffordable mostly for the poor. There are constraints on land supply in Australian cities that lead to increases in land prices. This is due to the regulatory environment of those cities.

Professor Angel concluded by saying that this anti-urban attitude is our major enemy. It is always taken by city people who live in the city and just don't want more people coming there.

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