The role of public bodies in infill development projects in Helsinki Metropolitan Area

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Insinööritieteiden korkeakoulu | Master's thesis
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Real Estate Investment and Finance
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Master’s Programme in Real Estate Economics
63 + 3
Infill development, which is defined as construction within built-up urban areas, is often viewed as an efficient way to change the dispersed development patterns and create the efficient densified urban structure. Being the core component of the smart growth agenda, infill development contributes to mitigating the urban sprawl through building high-density mixed-use neighborhoods, thus revitalizing existing communities, decreasing infrastructure costs and transport dependency. Despite the fact that this type of development has several significant advantages for the multiple stakeholders involved, infill projects are associated with certain barriers and often face the opposition from the residents. The primary purpose of this study is to explore the perspective of public sector and determine the attitudes of municipalities in the process of infill development. The research methods include literature review and an empirical study from Helsinki Metropolitan Area local planning authorities. The literature review investigates the demarcation of infill development concept, the expected benefits and the possible drawbacks of the infill projects for the stakeholders. Then, the evidence about the policies promoting infill is summarized. Finally, infill development is analyzed with regards to the current Finnish economic, demographic and planning context. The empirical data for this thesis was gathered by conducting the semi-structured interviews with 10 representatives from three municipalities. The qualitative study revealed the three crucial problems within the issue of infill development: lengthy administrative procedures, residents’ opposition and provision of parking spaces. The empirical findings partially supported the views of the explored literature in the field, however in the Finnish context such peculiarities as the planning monopoly of municipalities and collective decision-making within housing companies impact the situation to a large extent. On the basis of the results of this research, it can be concluded that the municipalities play key role in stimulation of infill development activities in urban areas and overcome the existing infill-related barriers through further improvement of existing regulations and involvement of stakeholders into planning process. The accumulated outcomes can be utilized for developing better practices for infill policymaking.
Falkenbach, Heidi
Thesis advisor
Valtonen, Eero
infill development, urban sprawl, urban densification, brownfield, smart growth
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