The introduction of higher density housing development within suburban areas has been favoured by state governments in Australia as a means of improving the efficiency of land use, reducing the costs associated with the delivery of government services and promoting home ownership. However it has been hypothesised that such development may have a negative impact on neighbourhood social structure, for example reducing diversity as measured by economic status and family makeup or in local housing market performance as measured by price. This paper aims to test this hypothesis.
The methodology employs a quantitative approach with principal components analysis used to capture the main social structure of the Adelaide Statistical Division. Social constructs, the product of principal components analysis, are used to measure outcomes of higher density development as measured by community or household change.
The results in this paper show that densification has had significant impact on certain neighbourhoods in the Adelaide Statistical Division notably in relation to their built form but not necessarily in neighbourhood structure or housing market performance.
The findings are significant in highlighting that increasing medium densities and improving tenure mix may not necessarily improve the opportunities for socio‐economic mix or for cultural diversity with implications for policy makers seeking to follow strategies based on the promotion of mixed communities.
This paper seeks to add new research on the outcomes of higher density development in Australia in three ways. First, social constructs, the product of principal components analysis, are used to measure outcomes of higher density development as measured by community or household change. Second, the paper investigates the development at the local level where impacts are likely to be most important. Third, the analysis identifies a before and after scenario for those suburbs where higher density development has been most significant.
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