Having been asked a number of time about whether there is an ideal size for cities, Former Vancouver Director of Planning wrote his most recent piece titled How Cities Grow Big; Not How Big Cities Grow! – on his blog. His response:
….it isn’t size that matters—it’s design that matters. You can have a well-designed larger city that works, or a poorly designed smaller city that’s dysfunctional. Your city can get better as it grows, or worse. The key variables are the values, intelligence, and tools that shape your growth choices.
Most cities perceive growth to be a positive thing when done well, supporting such civic goals as improving affordability, enhancing ecological sustainability, supporting social equity and choice, and stimulating creativity and economic development. Again, the key issue is the nature and quality of the growth.
With respect to infill housing, he writes:
The most obvious example of the importance of the nature of growth, is how much of that growth is infill, suburb or sprawl. More and more cities, including many I’ve advised, are making the key proactive decision around how much growth will go to infill development (in both inner city and suburban contexts), and how much will go to new greenfields developments (aka new suburbs). It’s a key decision for every city, a matter of civic choice based on public interest, not just a result of often self-serving interpretations of “market forces.”
You can read more here.