The Characteristics of Urban areas

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Unit F762- Managing Change in Human Environments.
Characteristics of Urban areas
Urban areas have a variety of functions, processes and distinct land-use patterns
Functions include industrial, commercial, residential and recreational.
Land use patterns are affected by a number of factors such as social, economic, political and
environmental factors.
Towns and cities
Built up areas providing a range of services and employment for residents and people in
surrounding areas. They act as focal points for local transport networks and are generally free
In the UK, many towns have merged together to form conurbations e.g. Greater Manchester
Urban functions
General functions Land use
Residential Housing types (morphology) e.g. detached/semi-detached
Housing types (tenancy) e.g. owner occupied/rented/illegal
Commercial Retailing, warehouses, offices and hotels
Administrative Offices for government (e.g. town hall)
Public utilities
Other public services Schools, hospitals, land-fills, sewage works etc.
Transport Roads, railways, canals, airports, bike lanes, tram lines
Industrial Manufacturing, energy, mining, quarrying
Recreational Green space: parks, playing fields, woodlands
Non-functional Derelict land, wasteland
Urban land use pattern
Factors that influence this include:
Name Type Description
Transport technology Economic The speed and efficiency of transport.
Historic growth Social/historic Particularly relevant in Europe, the Middle East and
Competition between land use Political/economic Retailing, services and offices tend to dominate as
they are more profitable.
Topography Economic Coastlines, river valleys, slopes and altitude.
Social distance Social Segregation.
Transport routes Environmental/Political Railways, airports and motorways increase
Traditions, values and culture Political
Local economic system Economic Cities focussed economically on tourism etc. will
reflect this.
Local climates Environmental Prevailing winds/temperature inversions
Planning Polictical Introduced in the UK in 1930
Urban structure models
Models try to find patterns and express them in real life. A model is limited as it is based on cities on flat land.
Zonal model (Burgess' concentric circle model)
Burgess based this on Chicago and 39 other cities located on flat land in the 1920s.
Urban development gets younger as you increase distance from the centre. The width
of each zone depends on the density of the built area and efficiency of local transport.
The model is inflexible and struggles to change.
1 = CBD ­ central business district

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Unit F762- Managing Change in Human Environments.
2 = Wholesale light manufacturing/inner city ­ industry
3 = low-class residential ­ terraced houses (originally located there so the factory workers could live close by).
4 = medium class residential/Outer city
5 = high class residential/outer city
10 = commuters zone/ Outer suburbs ­ bigger detached/semi-detached houses
Sector Model (Hoytt's sector model)
This model was based on the idea that transport links can create linear growth. Sectors develop along transport
corridors where accessibility is high.…read more

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Unit F762- Managing Change in Human Environments.
Latin American city model
Latin American cities were strongly affected by colonisation. The Spanish and Portuguese adopted similar plans of
a central square with major religious building such as a church. The main administrative and residences of the
elite would then be located nearby. A grid-iron street pattern would then spread out from here. Modern Latin
American cities have a commercial spine extending from the central business district.…read more


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