Urban sprawl and planning for a rural-urban boundary: Evidence from Auckland, New Zealand

Dr Cristian Silva1

1University Of Auckland , Auckland, New Zealand


Although controls on urban sprawl have been widely discussed, extended suburbanisation and encroachment of rural lands remain constant, and unexplored in their potentials to articulate a distinctive geography managed by more autonomous planning figures. Based on Auckland’s urban expansion to Pukekohe and Paerata, we examine the urban-rural interactions concerning the so-called ‘Rural-Urban Boundary’ (RUB), a planning figure to control Auckland’s disperse suburban growth. What is demonstrated is that the RUB emerges as a strategic planning tool to shift the unsustainable character of Auckland’s urban sprawl in comparison to traditional urban limits and green belts. However, this strategic potential of the RUB is undermined by its purely regulatory character, more closely related to traditional zoning rather than strategic planning. On this basis, we suggest that the RUB can be a strategic figure if it complements its regulatory character with strategic decision-making to articulate zoning but also the urban, rural and environmental assets that characterise the Auckland’s peri-urban space.


Dr Cristian Silva is an Architect (ULA, Chile), Master in Architecture (PUC, Chile) and PhD in Urban Studies (UCL, UK). His research areas are centred on the explorations of contemporary patterns of urban growth and change, urban sprawl, peri-urbanisation and (post)suburbanisation, particularly focused on the implications of interstitial spaces on contemporary transformations of city-regions

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