Privatised development and the quality of urban life

Andrew Kirby, Sonya Glavac

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Extensive residential communities, created by corporate developers and marked by walls and even gates, have emerged in metropolitan areas across the world. They have been criticised by many urbanists as evidence of a widespread process - the privatisation of space - which is frequently viewed as a negative development that is promoting social fragmentation and alienation. In this paper, this assertion is explored, drawing in part upon a decade of empirical research in the American Southwest, where privatised urban development is especially pervasive; it is manifested in the widespread construction of shopping malls, office parks and residential communities governed by legal covenants. Contrary to much academic opinion and popular commentary, the authors have found that such residential developments, managed by developers and home owner associations, are nonetheless popular with residents, who assess their quality of life highly and frequently choose to live in such developments again when they move. The significance of these results is explored in relation to understanding the quality of urban life and what this may imply for the urban development process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-175
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers: Urban Design and Planning
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • Public health
  • Sustainability
  • Town and city planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Urban Studies


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