The NIMBY Psychology Page is where I post ideas and suggestions regarding how we can address the persistent issue of NIMBY in planning and design — and particularly in community engagement in planning.
I’m about to undertake a major research project into NIMBY Psychology and will post the results here as well.
NIMBY responses to higher density housing: It’s all in your mind
Some questions I have been asking myself:
Why is there such strong community resistance to proposals for higher density housing in our neighbourhoods?
Aren’t people just being unreasonable and ignoring the need to make our cities more sustainable?
Aren’t state government density targets what we must have to be sustainable – despite community resistance?
Hard-wired for NIMBY
Recently, I spoke about this topic to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.
I argue that that neighbours are resisting proposed higher density housing because humans, like all animals, are hard-wired to protect our territories.
We need to understand the psychology of housing, of territory and of place attachment. And apply that understanding to our designs, planning and engagement.
Further, the `core territory’ of home is one to which we have the strongest place attachment. It has strong symbolic as well as psychological importance.
NIMBY PSYCHOLOGY: It’s all in our minds
Naturally, instinctively, we will defend our homes and neighbourhoods at all cost. That’s the lesson of NIMBY psychology.
That means that unless planners, designers, governments and developers understand and respect this `instinctive’ response, the battles will continue.
And unless community engagement approaches are sensitive to the deeply emotional nature of these responses, those processes will fail to support sustainability initiatives.
What needs to change?
Proposing my “Homing Instinct” approach to housing design and community engagement, I argue that two things need to change.
We need housing that is more `home-like’.
And we need engagement processes that reflect greater emotional intelligence than the processes we currently employ.
WATCH THE NIMBY PSYCHOLOGY PAGE FOR NEW WORKSHOPS, TRAINING AND LECTURES ON HOMING INSTINCT, NIMBY PSYCHOLOGY, NIMBY RESEARCH AND NIMBY GENERALLY.
Neighbours and density CAN co-exist. But we need more sensitive processes and better designs. We need to understand NIMBY psychology.
And planners and designers need to be educated about sensitive and appropriate engagement processes and the building blocks of good housing design.
“Engaging NIMBY with Love!”: My presentation to VIA Architecture, Vancouver, 4 March 2013:
The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial lecture, University of South Australia, 29 May 2013:
Watch this space!