Understanding and encouraging community acceptance of medium-density housing in Dunedin, New Zealand
Achieving sustainability is one of the greatest and most important challenges for cities today. Consequently, as evidence suggesting that the compact city is a sustainable urban form grows, many cities are prioritising urban intensification over urban expansion, often by building more medium-density housing (MDH). Community opposition to increasing housing density has long been a barrier to the creation of compact cities, but as design-related concerns often contribute to this opposition, presenting residents with well-designed examples of MDH may be an effective way to encourage acceptance of it.These issues are very relevant in Dunedin, which, like many New Zealand cities it, is facing housing supply and affordability crisis. Building more MDH could help to address these challenges and move the city towards sustainability, but there is limited understanding of the acceptance of MDH in Dunedin, and in smaller decentralised cities generally. Consequently, this thesis investigated the nature and extent of Dunedin residents’ acceptance of MDH, and whether well-designed MDH was more acceptable. A mixed-methods approach was taken to achieve this: quantitative data were collected through an online questionnaire survey of adult Dunedin residents; qualitative data were collected via semi-structured interviews with residents and a freeform survey question.The research revealed that MDH in Dunedin may be acceptable to most residents, provided it is well-designed and adequately supported by infrastructure. The findings suggested that acceptable options to the majority of residents are inner city apartment buildings up to 6 storeys and attached townhouses and 2–4 storey apartments and attached townhouses in the inner suburbs. However, the research also found that most residents still see MDH as inferior to standalone housing; it was typically seen as both more attractive to and suitable for younger and older adults without children. Nevertheless, the findings suggested that presenting residents with well-designed examples of MDH can encourage greater acceptance of it, especially regarding suitability for children. It was concluded that in small, decentralised cities acceptance of MDH may be higher than anticipated, and compact urban form may therefore be feasible. However, the findings highlighted that community engagement plays an essential role in ensuring that MDH is to be well-designed and acceptable to residents.
Advisor: Freeman, Claire
Degree Name: Master of Planning
Degree Discipline: School of Geography
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Medium-density housing; compact city; urban sustainability; community acceptance; Dunedin; design; urban form; questionnaire; New Zealand
Research Type: Thesis