Housing intensification and health
enHealth, in collaboration with Auckland Regional Council, Auckland Regional Public Health Service and Auckland University of Technology, recently completed research into occupants’ health concerns and the potential health impacts of different housing density environments in Auckland City.
The Auckland Regional Growth Strategy seeks to accommodate future growth of metropolitan Auckland through more compact urban development. There will be a significant increase in intensive housing and development such as terraced housing, townhouses and apartment buildings. Complexes will be largely built around town centres and passenger transport hubs. It is anticipated that by the year 2050 up to 30% of Auckland's population will live in high-medium density housing compared to the current 12%.
International research has shown that residential intensification may pose risks to quality of life and wellbeing of its occupants, compared to those who live in single stand-alone dwellings. Other international research suggests the reverse may be true.
Factors posing health risks include moisture, condensation and fungal growth, noise, brightness, indoor and outdoor living space and over-crowding, indoor air quality, heating and physical activity.
A cross-sectional survey was undertaken of 1,000 Auckland City residents. A postal questionnaire was developed comprising 40 closed questions and mailed to 500 high-medium density homes and 500 single stand-alone dwellings. A stratified sample of intensive housing developments across Auckland City was targeted. Single stand-alone dwellings from the same areas were surveyed for comparison.
- housing type, age and tenure
- number of occupants and rooms
- indoor and outdoor living space (size and use)
- noise insulation and disturbance
- heating, ventilation and indoor air quality
- vondensation, mould and mildew
- brightness and sunshine
- physical activity
- location of home (type of road)
- heath status and concerns
- general demographics.
Overall the study found that regardless of the housing type, health and quality of life may still be affected, however the affecting environmental factors and their proportions differ between the different housing types.
Noise, indoor living area, and size and use of outdoor living space all have the potential to affect the quality of life and wellbeing of occupants of high-medium density homes.
Conversely for other environmental factors particularly heating, condensation, and mould and mildew there is the potential for these to affect the health of those that live in single stand-alone dwellings.
The focus of the media, public and local government has previously been on the quality of the high-medium density developments such as location, design, construction, management and maintenance. This focus should now shift towards the potential health impacts that housing intensification may pose.
Housing intensification and health report(1.6MB DOC)
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