Gentrification or ‘multiplication of the suburbs’? Residential development in New Zealand’s coastal countryside
This paper conceptualizes recent residential development in New Zealand’s coastal countryside, which has entailed dramatic escalations in land and housing values. It considers whether this process should be understood as gentrification, as has recently been suggested. The argument against this interpretation is twofold. First, some qualities of coastal development that echo themes in the rural gentrification literature may be better understood as characteristics of a buoyant real estate market. Second, various central elements of rural gentrification are absent. These include restoration and reuse of the built environment, a shift in locational preferences prompting in-migration, and countercultural lifestyle opportunities. The process is also unlikely to cause significant direct displacement, as growth has proceeded in large part through greenfield new-build. An alternative, and long-standing, conceptualization of rural coastal development in New Zealand is as a type of suburbanization. The reproduction of suburban forms and functions is illustrated with reference to a case study from the Northland region. The paper emphasizes that definitions of gentrification need to be tailored so as not to capture any type of real estate-related investment and upgrading. Keywords: rural gentrification, suburbanization, coastal development, New Zealand
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