Theories of Urban Land Use and their Application to the Christchurch Property Market

Author: McDonagh, John

Publisher: Lincoln University, Lincoln, Christchurch

Type: Working or discussion paper

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Lincoln University


Contrary to popular opinion, our cities are not primarily formed by the actions of local body politicians or town planners, but rather it is the aggregate activity of property developers of all types, that ultimately determine the form a city will take. Multiple, and often conflicting factors influence developers decisions and therefore ultimately influence the land use distribution within a city. These factors can generally be categorised as: demographic, economic, sociological, legal and political. Of these demographic, economic and sociological factors tend to drive demand. Economic factors again are employed as the decision making tools choosing between various alternatives. Whereas the legal and political factors will establish the framework within which the development takes place and will attempt to influence, for the benefit of society in general, the direction of that development. The interrelationship of factors under the previous five headings is extremely complex and one factor cannot be adequately viewed in isolation from the others. One "holistic" technique that can be used to analyse this interaction, is to study historic urban land use throughout the world in an attempt to see if any consistent patterns of development have occurred. If such urban land use patterns can be determined, and by deduction, their causes identified, this will help in predicting the future shape of cities in a similar set of circumstances. In this essay the main theories that seek to explain city land use patterns will be analysed and critiqued followed by an attempt to relate these theories to the existing situation in Christchurch. From this, predictions will be made regarding where future growth will occur in Christchurch for the different types of real estate usage.

Subjects: property development, land use, city planning, Christchurch, real estate

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