Advanced

Measuring urban growth, urban form and accessibility as indicators of urban sprawl in Hamilton, New Zealand

Bowyer, Deborah LU (2015) In Master Thesis in Geographical Information Science GISM01 20152
Dept of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science
Abstract
Hamilton City is currently the fourth most populous territorial authority in New Zealand. The city boundary was extended in 1989 in order to provide sufficient land for urban growth for at least 25 years. Despite being neither unplanned nor unchecked, urban growth within this boundary has been branded by the media as urban sprawl.

Urban sprawl is a complex phenomenon with a wide range of definitions incorporating aesthetic judgements, unwanted externalities, policy consequences, land development patterns, and urban growth rates. The negative economic, environmental, social and public health effects of urban sprawl are widely considered to outweigh any positive effects, leading to the term having a negative connotation. Just as there... (More)
Hamilton City is currently the fourth most populous territorial authority in New Zealand. The city boundary was extended in 1989 in order to provide sufficient land for urban growth for at least 25 years. Despite being neither unplanned nor unchecked, urban growth within this boundary has been branded by the media as urban sprawl.

Urban sprawl is a complex phenomenon with a wide range of definitions incorporating aesthetic judgements, unwanted externalities, policy consequences, land development patterns, and urban growth rates. The negative economic, environmental, social and public health effects of urban sprawl are widely considered to outweigh any positive effects, leading to the term having a negative connotation. Just as there are many ways to define urban sprawl, there are also many ways to measure the phenomenon including urban area growth rates, density measurements, and spatial geometry, as well as differences in access to public services, employment opportunities and commercial areas. The primary research question addressed in this study is whether the post-1989 urban growth in Hamilton should be categorised as urban sprawl? Remote sensing and GIS techniques have been used to measure urban growth, urban form and accessibility in order to address three sub-questions which reflect different ways of defining and measuring urban sprawl:

• Has growth in the Hamilton urban area occurred at a greater rate than the city’s population growth?
• Are new neighbourhoods more homogeneous, having a higher proportion of single family dwellings on larger land parcels, and do they lack street connectivity?
• Do residents of old and new neighbourhoods have different access to essential services, commercial areas, employment areas, and public transport?

Post-classification comparison of satellite imagery was used to measure urban growth. A supervised classification was performed on three Landsat images acquired in 1990, 2001 and 2014. Pixels in each image were classified into a common land cover schema comprising eight classes: urban-residential, urban-commercial/industrial, cleared land, grassland, natural vegetation, agriculture-crops, agriculture-fallow and water. Pixels were then reclassified to three classes (urban, non-urban and water) and the Hamilton urban area was quantified for each classification map by multiplying the number of urban pixels by the pixel size. An accuracy assessment showed the classification maps to have overall accuracy of 94-97% and Kappa estimation of 90-96%. Between 1990 and 2014 there was 45% growth in the Hamilton urban area, while census data showed 41% growth in the population residing within Hamilton City between 1991 and 2013. Hence growth in the Hamilton urban area has not occurred at a greater rate than the city’s population growth. Therefore, based on this method of measuring urban sprawl, the post-1989 urban growth in Hamilton should not be categorised as urban sprawl.

Cadastral, land use and road data were used to calculate six metrics of urban form for each of the 37 residential neighbourhoods in Hamilton: land use mix, dwelling density, single-dwelling proportion, single-dwelling parcel size, internal street connectivity and external street connectivity. There are statistically significant differences in these metrics between old (developed prior to 1990) and new (developed from 1990 to 2014) neighbourhoods. New neighbourhoods are currently more homogeneous, they have a higher proportion of single family dwellings and lack street connectivity. However these single family dwellings do not occupy larger land parcels, which may be a function of several factors including subdivision policies, market demand and land prices. Therefore, based on five out of the six metrics of urban form, the post-1989 urban growth in Hamilton should be categorised as urban sprawl.

Cadastral, facility and road data were used to calculate eleven metrics of accessibility for each residential neighbourhood. For residential land parcels the median distance to the nearest commercial land use, bus stop, primary school, employment area and medial clinic, and from the nearest police station, fire station and ambulance station was calculated for each neighbourhood. Pedestrian access (walkability) was calculated as the percentage of residential parcels in the neighbourhood within walking distance (800m) of a commercial land use, bus stop and primary school. There are statistically significant differences in these metrics between old and new neighbourhoods, and residents currently have different access to commercial areas, employment areas, public transport and some essential services. Residents of new neighbourhoods currently experience increased travelling distances and reduced accessibility and walkability. However there is currently no difference between old and new neighbourhoods in terms of access to police and ambulance services, suggesting that the locations of these facilities are well-balanced across the city. Therefore, based on nine out of the eleven metrics of accessibility, the post-1989 urban growth in Hamilton should be categorised as urban sprawl.

The results of this study demonstrate the complexity of the urban sprawl phenomenon and that whether the post-1989 urban growth in Hamilton should be categorised as urban sprawl depends upon the particular definition of urban sprawl that is adopted and the measurement method used. (Less)
Popular Abstract
According to the media urban sprawl is running rampant in Hamilton, New Zealand. There are claims this dangerous phenomenon is gobbling up some of the world’s best farmland, killing the heart of the city, and creating headaches for the future. But what exactly is urban sprawl? Is there any evidence for it in Hamilton or is the media just using the term as an attention-grabber?

The United States Environmental Protection Agency defines urban sprawl as urban growth at a rate which exceeds population growth. Census data shows the population residing in Hamilton grew by 41% between 1991 and 2013. Landsat satellite images taken over a similar period show the Hamilton urban area grew by 45%. Most of this urban growth was in northeastern... (More)
According to the media urban sprawl is running rampant in Hamilton, New Zealand. There are claims this dangerous phenomenon is gobbling up some of the world’s best farmland, killing the heart of the city, and creating headaches for the future. But what exactly is urban sprawl? Is there any evidence for it in Hamilton or is the media just using the term as an attention-grabber?

The United States Environmental Protection Agency defines urban sprawl as urban growth at a rate which exceeds population growth. Census data shows the population residing in Hamilton grew by 41% between 1991 and 2013. Landsat satellite images taken over a similar period show the Hamilton urban area grew by 45%. Most of this urban growth was in northeastern suburbs such as Rototuna, a previously rural area brought into the city in 1989 and specifically designated for urban development.

Others define urban sprawl as a homogeneous pattern of land development, lacking a mix of land uses, dominated by single-family dwellings on large parcels of land, and containing too many winding streets and cul-de-sacs. This results in too much separation between land uses, leading to increased travelling distances for residents and a reduction in walkability. Hamilton’s northeastern suburbs certainly exhibit many of these characteristics. In comparison to the older central suburb of Hamilton East, Rototuna has much less commercial and community facility land use. Single-family dwellings occupy 65% of Rototuna’s land area compared to only 30% in Hamilton East, where multi-residential dwellings are far more common. The street network in Rototuna is dominated by cul-de-sacs. These differences in land use and street design have led to increased travelling distances for Rototuna residents. In fact, the median distance to the nearest of Hamilton’s main employment areas is almost three times that for residents of Hamilton East. And while all residents of Hamilton East are within walking distance of a commercial land use, only a third of Rototuna residents have this convenience. However, Hamilton’s northeastern suburbs differ from typical areas of urban sprawl when it comes to the size of land parcels. Median single-family dwelling parcel sizes are similar across the city, and are much smaller than the quarter acre once considered a requisite part of the New Zealand dream.

So while Hamilton’s newer northeastern suburbs have some of the characteristics of urban sprawl, the city’s urban growth has not outstripped population growth. This highlights the complexity of the urban sprawl phenomenon and suggests the media’s claims of woe are part fact and part fiction. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Bowyer, Deborah LU
supervisor
organization
course
GISM01 20152
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
GIS, urban sprawl, urban growth, urban form, accessibility, New Zealand, Physical Geography and Ecosystem analysis
publication/series
Master Thesis in Geographical Information Science
report number
43
language
English
id
8230612
date added to LUP
2015-11-25 10:19:12
date last changed
2015-11-25 10:19:12
@misc{8230612,
  abstract     = {Hamilton City is currently the fourth most populous territorial authority in New Zealand. The city boundary was extended in 1989 in order to provide sufficient land for urban growth for at least 25 years. Despite being neither unplanned nor unchecked, urban growth within this boundary has been branded by the media as urban sprawl. 

Urban sprawl is a complex phenomenon with a wide range of definitions incorporating aesthetic judgements, unwanted externalities, policy consequences, land development patterns, and urban growth rates. The negative economic, environmental, social and public health effects of urban sprawl are widely considered to outweigh any positive effects, leading to the term having a negative connotation. Just as there are many ways to define urban sprawl, there are also many ways to measure the phenomenon including urban area growth rates, density measurements, and spatial geometry, as well as differences in access to public services, employment opportunities and commercial areas. The primary research question addressed in this study is whether the post-1989 urban growth in Hamilton should be categorised as urban sprawl? Remote sensing and GIS techniques have been used to measure urban growth, urban form and accessibility in order to address three sub-questions which reflect different ways of defining and measuring urban sprawl:

• Has growth in the Hamilton urban area occurred at a greater rate than the city’s population growth?
• Are new neighbourhoods more homogeneous, having a higher proportion of single family dwellings on larger land parcels, and do they lack street connectivity?
• Do residents of old and new neighbourhoods have different access to essential services, commercial areas, employment areas, and public transport?

Post-classification comparison of satellite imagery was used to measure urban growth. A supervised classification was performed on three Landsat images acquired in 1990, 2001 and 2014. Pixels in each image were classified into a common land cover schema comprising eight classes: urban-residential, urban-commercial/industrial, cleared land, grassland, natural vegetation, agriculture-crops, agriculture-fallow and water. Pixels were then reclassified to three classes (urban, non-urban and water) and the Hamilton urban area was quantified for each classification map by multiplying the number of urban pixels by the pixel size. An accuracy assessment showed the classification maps to have overall accuracy of 94-97% and Kappa estimation of 90-96%. Between 1990 and 2014 there was 45% growth in the Hamilton urban area, while census data showed 41% growth in the population residing within Hamilton City between 1991 and 2013. Hence growth in the Hamilton urban area has not occurred at a greater rate than the city’s population growth. Therefore, based on this method of measuring urban sprawl, the post-1989 urban growth in Hamilton should not be categorised as urban sprawl.

Cadastral, land use and road data were used to calculate six metrics of urban form for each of the 37 residential neighbourhoods in Hamilton: land use mix, dwelling density, single-dwelling proportion, single-dwelling parcel size, internal street connectivity and external street connectivity. There are statistically significant differences in these metrics between old (developed prior to 1990) and new (developed from 1990 to 2014) neighbourhoods. New neighbourhoods are currently more homogeneous, they have a higher proportion of single family dwellings and lack street connectivity. However these single family dwellings do not occupy larger land parcels, which may be a function of several factors including subdivision policies, market demand and land prices. Therefore, based on five out of the six metrics of urban form, the post-1989 urban growth in Hamilton should be categorised as urban sprawl.

Cadastral, facility and road data were used to calculate eleven metrics of accessibility for each residential neighbourhood. For residential land parcels the median distance to the nearest commercial land use, bus stop, primary school, employment area and medial clinic, and from the nearest police station, fire station and ambulance station was calculated for each neighbourhood. Pedestrian access (walkability) was calculated as the percentage of residential parcels in the neighbourhood within walking distance (800m) of a commercial land use, bus stop and primary school. There are statistically significant differences in these metrics between old and new neighbourhoods, and residents currently have different access to commercial areas, employment areas, public transport and some essential services. Residents of new neighbourhoods currently experience increased travelling distances and reduced accessibility and walkability. However there is currently no difference between old and new neighbourhoods in terms of access to police and ambulance services, suggesting that the locations of these facilities are well-balanced across the city. Therefore, based on nine out of the eleven metrics of accessibility, the post-1989 urban growth in Hamilton should be categorised as urban sprawl.

The results of this study demonstrate the complexity of the urban sprawl phenomenon and that whether the post-1989 urban growth in Hamilton should be categorised as urban sprawl depends upon the particular definition of urban sprawl that is adopted and the measurement method used.},
  author       = {Bowyer, Deborah},
  keyword      = {GIS,urban sprawl,urban growth,urban form,accessibility,New Zealand,Physical Geography and Ecosystem analysis},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Master Thesis in Geographical Information Science},
  title        = {Measuring urban growth, urban form and accessibility as indicators of urban sprawl in Hamilton, New Zealand},
  year         = {2015},
}