Changing Urban Environments

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Urbanisation is the growth in the proportion of a country's population living in urban areas

- More than 50% of the world's population currently live in urban areas ( 3.4 billion people )

- Most of the population in richer countries already live in urban area, e.g. more than 80% of the UK's population live in urban areas

- Not many of the population in poorer countries currently live in urban areas, e.g. around 25% of the population of Bangladesh live in urban areas

- Most urbanisation that's happening in the world today is going on in poorer countries and it's happening at a fast pace

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Reasons for urbanisation in poorer countries

1) Often a shortage of services (e.g. education, access to water and power) in rural areas. Also people from rural areas sometime believe that the standard of living is better in cities ( even though often this is not the case )

2) There are more jobs in urban areas. Industry is attracted to cities because there's a larger workforce and better infrastructure than in rural areas

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Reasons for urbanisation in richer countries

1) Most urbanisation in rich countries occured during the industrial and the agricultural revolutions ( 18th and 19th centuries ) - machinery began to replace farm labour in rural areas, and jobs were created in new factories in urban areas. People moved from farms to towns for work.

2) In the late 20th century, people left run-down inner city areas and moved to the country. But people are now being encouraged back by the redevelopment of these areas.

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This is the central business district

It's usually found right in the centre of a city

It's the commercial centre of the city with shops and offices, and it's where transport routes meet

It has very high land values as there's a lot of competition for space

Buildings are tall and building density is very high

Very few people live in the CBD

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Inner City

This part is found around the CBD

It has a mix of poorer quality housing ( like high-rise tower blocks ) and older industrial buildings

The inner city can be quite run-down and deprived but there's also newer houing and industry where derelict land has been cleared and redeveloped.

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These are housing areas found towards the edge of the city

Land here is cheaper and it's still close enough to commute ( travel ) into the centre for work quite easily

In the UK and USA middle-class families tend to ive in the suburbs, because it's a nicer environment and there's less crime and polltion than the inner city

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Rural-urban fringe

This is the part right at the edge of a city, where there are both urban land uses ( e.g. factories ) and rural land uses ( e.g farming )

Here you tend to find fewer, larger houses

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In recent years...

A lot of shopping centres have been built in out-of-town locations in the UK ( which has caused shops in CBDs to close down )

Inner city tower blocks have been removed and replaced with housing estates on the rural-urban fringe

New housing is often built on brownfield sites ( cleared derelict land ) in the inner city instead of toward the edges of the city

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Urban area problems

1) A shortage of good quality housing

2) Run down CBDs

3) Traffic congestion and pollution from cars

4) Ethnic segregation ( people from different races and religions not mixing )

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Housing shortage strategies

1) Urban renewal schemes

  • first widely used in 1990s
  • encourage investments in new housing, services, and employment in derelict inner city areas

2) New towns

  • new towns have been built to house the overspill populations from existing towns and cities where there was a shortage of housing

3) Relocation incentives

  • used to encourage people living in large council houses ( who don't really need a big house or to live in the city ) to move out of urban areas. This frees up houses in urban areas for other people, e.g. Working families
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Revitalising CBDs

1) Pedestrianising areas ( stopping car access ) to make them safer and nicer for shoppers

2) Improving access with better public transport links and better car parking

3) Converting derelict warehouses and docks into smart new shops, restaurants and museums

4) Improving public areas, e.g. Parks and squares, to make them more attractive

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Car usage impact

1) More air pollution which damages health

2) More road accidents

3) Air pollution also damages buildings

4) More traffic jams and congestion

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Car usage solution

1) Improving public transport. This encourages people to use public transport instead of cars, which reduces traffic congestion, air pollution, traffic jams and accidents.

2) Increasing car parking charge in city centres. This discourages car use, so people are more likely to use public transport instead.

3) Bus priority lanes - these speed up bus services so people are more likely to use them.

4) Pedestrianisation of central areas. This removes traffic from the main shopping streets which reduces the number of accidents and pollution levels. It also makes these areas more attractive to shoppers.

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Cultural problems

1) People prefer to live close to others with the same background and religion, and who speak the same language.

2) People live near to services that are important to their culture, e.g. Places of worship. This means people of the same ethnic background tend to live in the same area.

3) People from the same ethnic background are often restricted in where they can live in the same way, e.g. Because of a lack of money, so they all end up in the same place.

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Cultural support strategies

1) Making sure everyone can access information about the different services, e.g. By printing leaflets in a variety of languages

2) Improving communication between all parts of the community, e.g. By involving the leaders of different ethnic communities when making decisions

3) Providing interpreters at places like hospitals and police stations

4) Making sure there are suitable services for the different cultures. For example, in some cultures it's unacceptable to he seen by a doctor of the opposite sex, so alternatives should be provided

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Squatter settlements

1) Squatter settlements are settlements that are built illegally in and around the city, by people who can't afford proper housing.

2) Squatter settlements are a problem in many growing cities in poorer countries, e.g. São Paulo ( Brazil ) and Mumbai ( India ).

3) Most of the inhabitants have moved to the city from the countryside - they're rural-urban migrants.

4) The settlements are badly built and overcrowded. They often don't have basic services like electricity or sewers.

5) They're called favelas in Brazil and shanty towns or slums in some other places.

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Squatter settlement improvements

Self-Help schemes

  • these involve the government and local people working together to improve life in the settlement. The government supplies building materials and local people use them to build their own homes. This helps to provide better housing and the money saved on labour can be used to provide basic services like electricity and sewers.

Site and service schemes

  • people pay a small amount of rent for a site, and they can borrow money too buy building materials to build or improve a house on their plot. The rent money is then used to provide basic services for the area. An example is the Dandora scheme in Nairobi, Kenya

Local authority schemes

  • these are funded by the local government and are about improving the temporary accommodation built by residents. For example, the city of Rio ( Brazil ) spent $120m on the Favela-Bairro project, which aimed to improve life for the inhabitants of Rio de Janeiro's favelas
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Rapid urbanisation environmental effects

1) Waste disposal problems - people in cities create a lot of waste. This can damage people's health and the environment, especially if it's toxic and not disposed of properly.

2) More air pollution - this comes from burning fuel, vehicle exhaust fumes and factories.

3) More water pollution - water Carrie pollutants from cities into rivers which causes serious health problems. Wildlife can also be harmed.

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Waste disposal

1) Money - poorer countries often can't afford to dispose of waste safely, e.g. Toxic waste has to be treated and this can be expensive. There are often more urgent problems to spend limited funds on, e.g. Healthcare.

2) Infrastructure - poorer countries don't have the infrastructure needed, e.g. Poor roads in squatter settlements mean waste disposal lorries can't get in to collect rubbish.

3) Scale - the problem is huge. A large city will generate thousands of tonnes of waste every day.

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Air pollution effects

  • Air pollution can lead to acid rain which damages buildings and vegetation.
  • It can cause health problems like headaches and bronchitis.
  • Some pollutants destroy the ozone layer, which protects us from the suns harmful rays.

Management of the pollution:
This can involve setting air quality standards for industries and constantly monitoring levels of pollutants to check they're safe.

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Water pollution effects

  • Water pollution kills fish and other aquatic animals which disrupts food chains.
  • Harmful chemicals can build up in the food chain and poison humans who eat fish from the polluted water.
  • Contamination of water supplies with sewage can spread disease like typhoid.

Management of the pollution
This can involve building sewage treatment plants and passing laws forcing factories to remove pollutants from their waste water.

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Schemes to reduce waste and safely dispose of it

More recycling means fewer resources are used, e.g metal cans can be melted down and used to make more cans. Less waste is produced, whichever deuces the amount that goes to landfill. Landfill is unsustainable as it wastes resources that could be recycled and eventually there'll be nowhere left to bury the waste.
Safely disposing of toxic waste helps to prevent air and water pollution.

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Conserving natural environments and historic build

Historic buildings, natural environments and open spaces are resources. If they get used up by people today (I.e. Built on or knocked down), they won't be available for people in the future to use. Historic buildings can be restored and natural environments can be protected.
Existing areas of green space like parks should be left alone.

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Building on brownfield sites

Brownfield sites are derelict areas that have been used, but aren't being used anymore. Using brownfield sites for new buildings stops green space being used up. So the space will still be available for people in the future.
Developing brownfield sites also makes the city look nicer.

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Building carbon-neutral homes

Carbon-neutral homes are buildings that generate as much as they use, e.g. By using solar panels to produce energy. For example, BedZED is a carbon-neutral housing development in London. More homes can be provided without damaging the environment too much or causing much more pollution.

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Creating an efficient public transport system

Good public transport systems mean fewer cars on the road, so pollution is reduced.
Bus, train and tram systems that use less fuel and give out less pollution can also be used, e.g. Some buses in London are powered by hydrogen and only emit water vapour.

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