Living in the 'liveable' city: Housing, Neighbourhood, and Transport Preferences in New Zealand cities
This thesis investigates preferences for housing, neighbourhoods, and transport in Auckland, New Zealand, supplemented by a comparison with similar research in Wellington and Hamilton. The topic is significant for New Zealand as there is an increasingly urban population, and the interconnected areas of urban form and transport can help the country reduce carbon emissions and provide a healthier, more enjoyable lifestyle for its people. The influence of residents’ preferences and their relationship with urban form on achieving compact city development is investigated. Historical and current planning rules and policies provide context for an analysis of how urban planning, preferences, and location and travel choices interact. Auckland’s housing and transport policies show a pattern of path dependency: decisions favouring greenfield development, sprawling low-density suburbs, and car-centred transport have driven subsequent investments and influenced the ease of using alternative transport modes. Such rules have also reduced the availability of housing in accessible, medium- to high-density neighbourhoods and may have contributed to the rising costs of this type of housing. A stated choice survey of 3,285 Auckland households was conducted to investigate the extent to which there is an unmet demand for compact development and alternatives to car travel. Using the survey results, a multinomial latent class model was developed to examine the preferences of households and the trade-offs they may be willing to make when choosing where to live. This type of model allows for identification of preference groups as a means of understanding the heterogeneity of preferences across the population. There was an unmet demand for accessible, medium-density housing, with some households willing to trade off dwelling size and neighbourhood type for higher accessibility or lower prices. The study also found that more people currently drive than would prefer to, with long journey times, safety concerns, unreliable services, and a lack of infrastructure acting as barriers to active and public transport. Households preferring low density are more likely to occupy their preferred dwelling type and be able to use their preferred transport mode. In contrast, those preferring high accessibility or driven by price are more likely to experience a mismatch between their preferred and current dwelling type, and are less likely to be able to use their preferred transport mode.