Municipal visions, market realities: does planning guide residential development?
In discussions about alternative modes of residential development, such as those proposed under the New Urbanist, Smart Growth, or sustainable cities movements, a common assumption is that planning is capable of implementing these visions. In this study I seek to ascertain the ability of planning to guide residential development. In contrast to much of the existing research into planning capability, which evaluates individual implementations, this study uses municipality-wide built-form data. Before and after comparisons are carried out for the primary study site, the town of Markham, Ontario (Canada), where a New-Urbanist-inspired development philosophy has been in place since the early 1990s. Results are compared with those from the city of Vaughan, an adjacent municipality that has maintained a market-led development approach. Findings are that planning is capable of moderately accelerating positive trends and moderately retarding negative trends.
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