A3: Land

Team Lead:

Richard Harris (McMaster University)

Team Members:

Robin Bloch (ICF International)
Ute Lehrer (York University)
Emmanuel Negrier (Université de Montpellier)

Research Context, Methods and Goals:

Under the guidance of the project lead, researchers studied the processes of development and redevelopment. While development processes are economic, they are also framed by two sets of cultural assumptions:

1. Prevailing attitudes towards the attractions and meaning of urban life influence the suburban mix of rural-urban migrants and how the suburbs are lived, or performed.

2. Assumptions about the meaning of land, of ownership, and about the legitimate sources and forms of regulation. Cultural attitudes and ideas about suburban land vary within and between nations (by class and/or ethnicity). In regions with long histories of colonial settlement or minority rule, such assumptions may be especially complex or contested.

This project attempted to address these varied cultural meanings through a review of global secondary literature, paying special attention to North America, Western Europe, China, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. Comparative literature-based research was undertaken to look at land and housing markets, suburban redevelopment, the design of flexible suburban spaces, and restrictions on suburban development.

Robin Bloch was primarily responsible for identifying and synthesizing contemporary material on the developing world, with particular reference to current planning issues. Ute Lehrer was responsible for synthesizing and interpreting the research on urban redevelopment and land assembly, with particular reference to North America and Europe. Richard Harris provided a historical context on land development. All three researchers worked on putting together a final document, with Richard Harris taking prime responsibility for pulling it together.

Research & Dissemination:

A workshop on suburban land was held at the Université Montpellier 1 in Montpellier, France, October 21 to 23, 2012. The team prepared a major research document for distribution prior to the workshop which served as a basis for discussion. A number of these workshop papers served as a basis for an edited collection.

In 2018, The Suburban Land Question: A Global Survey, edited by Richard Harris and Ute Lehrer was published by the University of Toronto Press.The book draws on a variety of sources, including official data, planning documents, newspapers, interviews, photographs, and field observations to explore the pattern, process, and planning of suburban land development.

Presentations & Publications: