Hamilton’s bright neighbourhoods

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Interesting and bright neighbourhoods will inevitably attract more energetic, ambitious and affluent citizens. The increasing population and income, in addition to the presence of more youthful people in a neighbourhood, creates the opposite of a dull neighbourhood, as described in Jane Jacobs’ book “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” (page 287):

“Long before visible blight can be seen, is stagnation and dullness. Dull neighbourhoods are inevitably deserted by their more energetic, ambitious, or affluent citizens, and also by their young people who can get away.”

Hamilton’s suburb Sylvester stands out in terms of positive change, with an average individual annual income of $43,200 (highest in Hamilton), population growth of over thousand percent and its median age lowering from 42 years in 2001 down to 32 years in 2013. At the other end of the scale we have Burbush with an 18% loss in population and an increase in median age from 30 years in 2001 to 38 years in 2013, and Rotokauri, which is the only area to show no increase in income, being $30,800 in both 2001 and 2013 (it did show $35,800 in 2006) on Statistics NZ’s map, along with a 14 year increase in median age.

Sylvester has moved from being a rural to an urban area and Burbush is moving from being a rural to an industrial area. The changes are very visible when visiting these areas.

However, the areas in Hamilton showing the greatest potential to become bright and interesting neighbourhoods may not be the wealthiest, fastest-growing or youngest. The Porritt area has shown an income increase of 56%, the median age was a year younger in 2013 than 2001 and with 3% population growth, is the complete opposite to what Jane Jacobs calls a dull neighbourhood.

Hamilton Unit Area - Income change 2001-13 Hamilton Unit Area - Age change 2001-13 Hamilton Unit Area - Population change 2001-13

The table below lists the areas that are growing without become unattractive to younger people and some of these areas are in the “long before visible” potential can be seen, these neighbourhoods are being populated by more energetic, ambitious, or affluent citizens, and also by younger people.

Area Unit change 2001 to 2013 Income increase Median age change in years Population increase Density 2013 census
Hamilton  City 55% 1.5 21% 1,544
Sylvester 57% -10 1,061% 650
Huntington 26% -4.1 919% 2,092
University 33% -0.1 58% 3,016
Bader 65% 0.4 11% 2,199
Chartwell 59% 0.6 9% 1,748
Hamilton Central 78% 1.1 8.6% 1,149
Clarkin 61% 1.1 7% 2,367
Hamilton East 56% 0.8 7% 2,490
Frankton Junction 69% 0.8 4% 575
Porritt 56.8% -1.2 3% 1,691
Beerescourt 57% 0.3 2.5% 2,326

For these areas to continue to thrive, the people achieving modest gains must be kept, but “It hinges on whether a considerable number of the residents and businesses … find it both desirable and practical to make and carry out their own plans right there, or whether they must virtually all move elsewhere” (Jane Jacobs).

3 comments on “Hamilton’s bright neighbourhoods

  1. Thanks for that.

    Can’t help but be concerned with the definition ‘bright and interesting’ with it’s look at 3 variables: wealth, population age and fastest growing. An increasing number of younger people in flasher houses doesn’t constitute “bright and interesting’
    It would also be good to consider the close proximity to: community amenities, rich cultural, social and recreational hubs, as well as harder to quantify but at least equally important: how neighbours care for and watch out for each other, strong community sense of wellness, acceptance and celebration of difference.

    Sarah Bodley-Davies

  2. Great comment, I am planning to look at this at mesh block level, were we should be able to identify some of what you’re suggesting. The goal is to identify areas people are excepting change, and that attracts younger people without showing a negative effect of the measured income of an area, as showing in Huntington (flasher houses) & University (medium density) area.

  3. In certain developing countries, not much “grumpy old men and women” as there are hot-headed young adults in road rage and violence, where population growth have urban centers bursting at the seams resulting in a generally deteriorated environment & quality of life (overcrowding, blighted & squalid enclaves, traffic congestion, air & waterway pollution, inadequate & overburdened social services/ facilities/over-all infrastructure stretched beyond limits etc) Open spaces & greeneries? inter-connected sidewalks for pedestrians’ use? parking areas for vehicles? Alas! everything & anything that move on land compete for the same space designed for population/traffic & all human activities half a century ago. In most parts of the world & in the maze of competing development priorities, the ageing/elderly population are invisible– far out of the radar of the development agenda as essential development stakeholders & far distant to be recognized as integral to a holistic development & a humane society.

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