Flagstaff neighbourhood growth

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Growth in Flagstaff started in the early 1990s, around the same time as the publication of the 1990s Hamilton City Town Plan (also called the district scheme).  This aimed to “offer GREATER overall flexibility … allow for integration of all land uses (*p10) … to minimize the need for people to travel long distances between home and work” (*p24). In Flagstaff there are minimal employment zones (*see scrapbook page of quotes at end of post).

According to the 2018 census, Flagstaff East and South have developed to a population density of 2,100 and 1,700 people per km2 (ppkm2) respectively, which is lower than most other neighbourhoods in Hamilton. The median density of Hamilton’s 62 census areas is a nominal 2,330 ppkm2. The outcome of the 1990s town plan is suburbs of lower than average population density, unnecessarily limiting the supply of land for new housing, and contributing to why we have a housing crisis and need sporadic expansion of urban areas into rural areas.

Flagstaff North and South are the wealthiest neighbourhoods in Hamilton (average income $47.6k and $45k respectively, compared to Hamilton overall at $30.2k). Flagstaff also has the highest home ownership, Flagstaff South (82.3%), East (78.7%), North (72.5%), compared to Hamilton overall, which is 53.9%.

The median age of people living in the 1990s suburb of Flagstaff East is 42.7 years. This is one of the oldest in Hamilton, and even though Flagstaff North and South are similar to Hamilton’s existing median of ~32 years, they are trending upwards. With the “provision for higher density housing – suitable for the elderly” (*p16) Flagstaff North and South could easily follow the same trend as Flagstaff East. There is good infrastructure for the pre-teen population, with a local day-care, two primary schools and a destination playground. However, teenagers need to leave Flagstaff for schooling and tertiary education. This is the same for most of the Flagstaff working population, making it essentially a dormitory suburb for those employed.

The objective of the 1990s town plan was to ‘maximise public access to the River’ (*p11). Public access north of Wairere Drive is good, but once you get to the edge of the newer area shown as Flagstaff South, public access and connectivity feels ad-hoc.

The 1990s Town Plan was to “offer GREATER overall flexibility… allow for integration of all land uses” (*p10) … “to minimize the need for people to travel long distances between home and work” (*p24). The authors explained why the town plan was three time larger than the past district scheme: “We can’t do much about its length – the trade-off for having a more flexible scheme is that all the various possibilities must be spelled out” (*p9). The Flagstaff neighbourhood is the outcome of the 1990s Town Plan.

“Access between residential areas and employment centres” (*p26) – Because zoning limits mixed types of employment it limited employment opportunities, it is easier to call in outside trade services than establish a local service.


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