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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Fee simple row housing : the link between tenure and residential building form in achieving more complete communities Kay, Jennifer Anne

Abstract

The fee-simple row house, an attached housing form located on its own legal lot, is an innovative residential building type that currently cannot be built within the City of Vancouver according to existing zoning by-laws. A review of policies adopted by the Greater Vancouver Regional District and the City of Vancouver informed the identification of key themes that were then used as criteria to assess how the fee simple row house could help foster the creation of more complete, compact communities. In particular, the fee simple row house offers benefits in its ability to create the feel of single family housing in a ground-oriented medium density form. Concentrating on the link between tenure and residential building form, this thesis explores the potential benefits of developing fee simple row housing within the City of Vancouver as an alternative to condominium/strata title ownership. The thesis proposes that fee simple ownership is a feasible and well-tested form of tenure for attached housing, which enables residents to experience more of the benefits of home ownership that have typically only been available in the single-family detached home. In contrast, condominium/strata title ownership has the ability to restrict the way in which owners use and enjoy their property and may be acting as a disincentive to the acceptance of higher density housing. Relevant legislation related to strata title ownership is presented and the subsequent discussion regarding the regulatory and legal implications of fee simple ownership concludes that mechanisms exist to effectively manage party wall and maintenance agreements between adjacent owners of fee simple row houses. In support of this argument is the thesis case study of the City of Vancouver's Neighbourhood Housing Demonstration Project, which is exploring the creation of a fee simple row house zoning schedule and the development of a demonstration project to test this form of housing. Planners, developers and local residents are not familiar with fee simple ownership in attached housing and as a result, the housing stock in the Lower Mainland has very few examples of fee simple row housing. The City's project has the ability to demonstrate the feasibility of fee simple ownership for row housing and may help alleviate some of the concerns around this type of housing. This thesis contributes to the body of planning literature focused on implementing the theory of urban sustainability by providing a tangible example of an innovative housing form that can contribute to the creation of more complete, compact communities. Planners involved in the promotion of sustainable development practice encourage greater residential densities and increased housing diversity, yet have not readily addressed the link between tenure and residential building form. This thesis offers a review of some of the issues related to the introduction and development of an innovative and more sustainable housing form that can contribute to a more diverse housing stock: the fee simple row house.

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