Property ownership and planning regulation: insider influences on urban consolidation policies in Melbourne

Taylor, E 2011, Property ownership and planning regulation: insider influences on urban consolidation policies in Melbourne, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Global Studies, Social Science and Planning, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Property ownership and planning regulation: insider influences on urban consolidation policies in Melbourne
Author(s) Taylor, E
Year 2011
Abstract The thesis explores the interests and activities of property owners who, as groups with an existing stake in the housing market, may seek to influence the planning system in their favour. The focus is on the role of property owner groups in conflicts around urban consolidation policies in Melbourne. The overarching research question is: Are the housing market interests of property owners, as ‘insiders’, reflected in activities that influence urban consolidation policies in Melbourne? Economic perspectives are used to analyse activities around planning by housing developers, existing homeowners and fringe landowners.

Planning regulations have the capacity to influence housing markets, either intentionally or unintentionally. Planning may be cast as managing private property for the greater good; as an unnecessary distortion of markets; or (as in the critical literature on exclusionary zoning) as protecting the property interests of privileged groups. An endogenous model of planning and housing markets assumes planning is influenced by groups with an existing stake in market outcomes.

Urban consolidation policies, pursued in most Australian cities since the 1980s, promote densification of existing urban areas and curtailed outward expansion. Such policies were partly based on a critical view of zoning and its exclusionary effects. Yet much of the literature looking at planning on housing affordability has focused on the impacts of consolidation – particularly Urban Growth Boundaries (UGBs). Although consolidation can arguably either improve or hinder housing affordability, the thesis argues that in practice property owner groups are likely to contest and shape the ways that policies are implemented.

There are three areas of empirical investigation, using a mixed-methods approach. Parts of the study are based on a detailed dataset of property-level transactions and valuations data, and utilise quantitative techniques including hedonic modelling and Geographical Information Systems. The thesis also draws on policy documents, and applies qualitative discourse and content analysis methods.

The media and policy coverage of links between housing affordability and urban consolidation in Australia is explored, documenting patterns in the local debates about planning and housing. This content analysis highlights shifts in the perceived role of urban consolidation in housing affordability. Exploring patterns of ‘backlash’ against densification by existing homeowners, data is examined on planning permit applications and rates of objections and planning disputes, and their relationships with local house prices and socioeconomic characteristics. The findings have implications for policies that direct new housing to existing high-demand areas. The interests of landowners on the urban fringe are analysed with reference to the expansion of Melbourne’s UGB and a proposed taxation on betterment. The series of UGB policy changes may be understood as a response to policy pressures from owner groups.

The thesis argues that the activities of property owners have played an important role in the negotiation of urban consolidation policies in Melbourne. Consolidation policies seem to create substantial price premiums in land and housing markets, which are redistributed in response to premium-seeking activities. The costs of this process are likely to be passed on to housing outsiders, with implications for both planning and housing affordability.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Global Studies, Social Science and Planning
Keyword(s) Urban planning
urban consolidation
housing markets
housing affordability
property owners
urban growth boundaries
exclusionary zoning
planning disputes
Melbourne
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Created: Thu, 01 Dec 2011, 13:52:11 EST by Guy Aron
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