gated & private communities

selected abstracts

Jill Grant and Andrew Curran. 2007. “Privatized suburbia: the planning implications of private roads.” Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 34(4): 740-54

Over the last few decades new residential developments have increasingly featured private roads. Planners may see private roads as a strategy for permitting greater design flexibility. Not subject to standard engineering requirements, private streets can make use of narrower widths and alternative street materials designed to slow traffic and create intimate and quiet residential environments. Developers see private streets both as a way to build at higher densities and as a device to market privacy and exclusive amenities to prospective residents. Municipalities may look to private roads as an effective way of avoiding infrastructure and maintenance costs. Many planned unit developments and new urbanism style projects have turned to private roads to achieve their particular objectives. This paper considers some of the spatial, socio-economic and planning implications of private roads. While private roads provide a useful tool for achieving design objectives and for transferring the burden of development to those who benefit from it, they also facilitate social segregation and spatial fragmentation of the urban landscape. Municipalities should carefully examine the implications of private roads before deciding whether and when to permit them.


Jill Grant. 2007. An American Effect: Contextualizing gated communities in Canadian planning practice”. Canadian Journal of Urban Research: Canadian Planning and Policy 16(1): 1-19

During interviews about the planning response to gated communities in Canada, respondents initiated an unexpected discourse around national identity. The growing popularity of gated enclaves, a form that respondents generally associate with the American experience, forced those interviewed to distance their own communities from the problems of crime they associate with American cities. The case illustrates the way in which practitioners may interpret local practice within an international context.


Jill Grant. 2005. “Planning the (dis)connected city: Why gated projects get approved” Cahiers de Géographie du Québec 49(138): 363-76

A strong consensus around values of mixed use, connected streets, and alternative transportation modes drives urban planning theory in most Western nations today. Smart growth and sustainable development models promote diversity, affordability, and connectedness in a vibrant public realm. At the same time, though, we note that gated developments are on the increase. How can we account for the proliferation of homogeneous, isolated, and car-oriented enclaves when those who regulate land use advocate quite different options? This paper identifies the principles that planners agree on and uses a case study of Canadian planning practice to illustrate why gated projects get approved regardless of planners’ preferences. In an environment where affluent consumers prefer homogeneity and exclusivity, and where local government is looking for cost-effective options to investing in new urban infrastructure, decision makers may feel compelled to accept gated enclaves as a viable development option.