Geography- Managing Urban Change

Everything you need to know about AS OCR managing urban change

For more information on case studies, please see extra notes

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Defining Urban

difference between urban and rural= population size urban is also used to describe both places and people

urban= the distinctive characteristics of towns and cities- size, density and way of life

rural= the character of country areas and the activities and lifestyles encountered in such areas

urban people are considered different from rural people in lifestyle, living environment and employment

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general features of urban areas

urban places show a number of features that distinguish them from rural places:

  • exclusion of the natural world
  • dominance of buildings and transport networks
  • high levels of pollution- light, noise, water, air and sound
  • congestion
  • pace of living causing increased stress levels
  • high population densities
  • distinctive lifestyles, values and behaviour
  • diversity in terms of wealth, age and ethnicity
  • employment mainly in secondary, tertiary and quaternary sectors
  • the provision of commercial and social services for local residents and those living in tributary area
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=process by which places and people become more urban, the rise in the proportion of a population living in an area

most obvious outcome is a rise in the percentage of the population living in towns and cities= percentage urban- this can be used as a measure of urbanness'

The urbanisation pentagon contains 5 things:

  • shift in economy
  • change in population distribution
  • shift in size and character
  • spread of built-up area
  • change in way of life
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Rural-urban migration

=the movement of people from the countryside into towns and cities, it is just one element of the urbanisation process

5 elements:

  • a shift in economy of a country or region- emphasis moves from farming to manufacturing
  • a change in distribution of population- people become more concentrated in the growing towns and cities
  • a change in the way of life of those moving into towns and cities- change in occupation, lifestyles, values, codes of behaviour and social institutions
  • changes in the size and character of settlements- differential growth in the settlement network undergoing urbanisation sees some villages grow into towns
  • the spread of the built-up area- natural environment is progressively 'eroded'
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Connection between urbanisation and development

development generates urbanisation

as countries become more developed- LDCs become LEDCs, LEDC's become RICs and so on- as they become more urbanised. They move along the urbanisation pathway which is the course followed by all countries

the rise in the level of urbanisation along the pathway continues until a country becomes a MEDC

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Development and the urbanisation pathway

1. LDC (least developed country) the rural society phase: low levels of urbanisation; largely rural population of subsistence farmers

2. LEDCs (less economically developed country) economic take-off begins: rapid rural-to-urban migration leads to an accelerating rate of urbanisation

3. RICs (recently industrialising country) maturing economy: rates of urbanisation continue to rise but then start to slacken off; suburban spread

4. NICs (newly industrialised country) mass urbanisation in most developed nations: rate of urbanisation levels off and percentage urban peaks; most people now live in towns

5. MEDCs (more economically developed countries) in advanced economies deindustrialisation set in: people move to smaller towns and cities and to semi-rural areas:urbanism continues to spread

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=the movement of people and employment from major cities to smaller settlements and rural areas

2 changes:

  • 1. some businesses and people are opting to move out of the largest cities into smaller towns and cities- diffusing urban growth down the urban hierarchy
    • urban hierarchy= the vertical classification of towns and cities according to a variable such as population size. it is best thought of as a pyramidal structure with many towns at its base, above these is a smaller number of cities, above these an even smaller number of regional centres then at the top the capital city
  • 2. relatively smaller number of urban businesses and people moving into rural areas. many of these urban-rural migrants retain urban-based jobs by commuting whilst others remain customers of urban-based services. This is a result of rural dilution.
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Urban Change 1- the rural-urban shift

  • the first shift in where the majority of the world's people live and work
  • in 1800, only 5% of the world's population lived and worked in towns and cities
  • today, roughly 50% of the global population is reckoned to be urban
  • the world is experiencing a massive growth in urban population and urban areas
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Urban Change 2- the MEDC-LEDC shift

  • the second urban change is a geographical one
  • 100 years ago the fastest rates of urbanisation occurred in what is often referred to as the Developed World i.e. the MEDCs
  • today the fastest rates of urbanisation are taking place in LEDCs
  • since 1950, over half the population of the developing world has been classed as urban
  • the percentage of urban figure for the Developed World is slowly levelling off
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Characteristics of urban areas

1. it is the functions or economic activities of urban areas that contibute much to the distinctiveness of urban areas

2. urban areas show recurring patterns produced by the spatial sorting of both land uses and people

3. these urban patterns are the outcome of distinct processes

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= the main activities of a town or city that are evident as land uses within the urban area, they include residential, services, commercial, industrial, tourism, cultural, administrative, political, entertainment, recreational and transport

  • manufacturing used to be a core function of most MEDC cities
  • however, deindustrialisation and the global shift in manufacturing to NICs and RICs have changed all that
  • today, the most lucrative economic activities are those that fall within the tertiary and quaternary sectors- these creates services for the urban inhabitants but also for the tributary areas, creating jobs and capital
  • within the quaternary function, is the handling of information, research and development, administation and financial management that can bring prosperity to the area
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Spacial sorting of functions and people- similar activities and types of people tend to cluster together to creat a mosaic within a built-up area

The Central business district (CBD), industrial estate, edge city and retail park are evidence of the sorting of land uses

the ghetto, areas of fashionable housing, the sink estate and the gated community attest to the sorting of people

land use patterns:

  • concentric rings
  • sectors or wedges
  • multi-nuclei or blocks
  • combinations of above
  • chaotic or unplanned
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generalisations about the spacial pattern:

  • the general age of the urban area decreases from the centre 
    • towns and cities grow outwards from a historical nucleus
  • the overall density of development tends to decrease 
    • as a town or city grows its fringe expands 
    • allows access to more rural space. more space often leads to lower densities of development
  • as consequences of the above, the urban area will show the same spacial components, namely a core, a suburban ring and a rural ring
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factors influencing patterns of land use:

  • physical site- climate, relief, drainage, rock type
  • economic factors- transport routes and accessibility (hoyt), ability to outbid for sites (burgess), size of site available, mutual attraction/ repulsion (harris and Ullman), income
  • social- life cycle, tenure- who controls the land/buildings, historical- inertia, conservation, reputation, mobility of population, mutual attraction/repulsion, land ownership- estate development, ethnicity and cultural factors- spacial segregation, religious factors
  • political- planning controls- land-use zoning, green belt, need for centrality or safety, state or authority boundaries
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External processes affect the whole urban area:

  • Urbanisation- movement into cities
  • counterurbanisation- movement out of cities, teleworking allows people to move
  • agglomeration- grouping together of functions, people are drawn into the newly emerging towns and cities, multiplier effect agglomeration leads to suburbanisation
  • suburbanisation- people move out of the congested core into areas of lower density development, housing occurs on greenfield sites
  • suburban intensification- suburbs become more urban as a result of increasing building densities
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Internal processes- occur within an area or zone:

  • urban regeneration- the renewal of an area as planners decide to redevelop brownfield sites
  • re-imaging- changing the image or reputation of an area
  • gentrification- area attracts the more wealthy
  • filtering- certain groups move out leaving others behind
  • exclusion- shutting out of particular community groups
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Case Study- 2 urban places- Newcastle MEDC Uk

  • 190,000 people in 2001, 

Land-use pattern and planned nuclei

  • broadly concentric but sector of old industry and docks along River Tyne
  • there is a large suburban ring
  • much of the core is occupied by the CBD
  • the suburban ring expanded during the 20th century, the character of residential areas varies with the age of building, densities generally decrease outwards from the core
  • the rural fringe is defined from the built up areas. retailing complexes and business parks are increasingly evident


  • river- limited north-south crossings but sector of old industry and docks along River Tyne. Expansion is now northwards and upstream
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Case Study- MEDC- Newcastle UK


  • in the 16th century it became involved in the export of coal 
  • 19th century became involved in shipbuilding and heavy engineering
  • now, assembly industries, commerce, retail and entertainment- seen as regional centre for the north-east


  • some sorting by socio-economic group (via public housing e.g. Byker)
  • possible to discern some sorting based on ethnicity

Political- it is a border town and defensive site as has a castle


  • Originally Roman settlement at end of Hadrian's Wall (Wallsend)
  • Later Norman centre to control the north
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Case Study- MEDC- Newcastle UK


  • Counterurbanisation- some outward movement of people and activities to nearby smaller towns and rural areas
  • Suburbanisation- now tightly controlled by planners
  • Regeneration- particularly evident in areas formerly connected with shipping
  • Filtering and Gentrification- most evident in the inner parts of the suburban ring
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Case Study- 2 urban places- LEDC- Port Moresby

255,000 in 2000

land use pattern and planned nuclei

  • there are 2 cores- a historical one and a modern commercial centre
  • the suburban ring is low-rise and comprises many detached dwellings
  • the rural fringe- large tracts of informal settlements, little agriculture, some recreational spaces
  • growth of the built-up area has engulfed some villages
  • The Waigani district contains the Parliament and other public buildings


  • limited growth along the coast
  • ridge of steep hills has created a break in the inland spread of the built-up area creating a 2 part urban area
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Case Study- LEDC Port Moresby

Economic and political 

  • established by the Brits in1880s to act mainly as a port and defensive base
  • in 1975 it became the capital of the state of Papua New Guinea since then, it's population has risen 
  • main functions are the provision of goods and services; port activities; limited service industry; informal activities


  • Australian and European residents are conspicuous in the areas of better housing
  • active segregation amongst native residents based on tribal origins
  • the poorest residents are mainly found in the belts of informal settlements, are the recent incomers from rural areas
  • there are high rates of unemployment and crime
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Case Study- LEDC Port Moresby


  • Agglomeration- the growth of informal settlements prompted by substantial rural-urban migration
  • Suburbanisation- inland and along the coast
  • Regeneration- some in the historic core
  • Exclusion- of poor from best residential locations and on the basis of tribal origins
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Case Study conclusions

comparison of urban characteristics in 2 very different parts of the world:

  • the impact of physical site conditions, particularly of features such as coastlines, hills and rivers, is much the same in both cities
  • the functions of the 2 cities may differ in detail but tertiary activities are dominant in both
  • it is possible to discern the sane structural components- core, suburban ring and rural fringe- differences in character in the zones
  • the segregation of people is common to both, mainly on the basis of wealth but also ethnicity
  • the processes at work differ because of difference in the ages of the two cities and their developmental context- Newcastle, located in an MEDC has progressed further along the urbanisation pathway
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Causes of Urban Change

the following factors cause urban change:

  • population change- migration in/out, birth rate, ethnic mix, age structure
  • Mobility change- increased private and public transport
  • Technology change- different locational factors are now important, change in range and cost of transport
  • Perceptions change- residential preference, perception of safety, crime etc
  • Incomes and wealth change- increased or decreased
  • Political strategies change- planning initiatives, local tax changes, land use zoning
  • Employment structure/location change- industrial versus services growth or declines, changing technology
  • public services demand and supply change- type, location
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Causes of urban change


  • Access to resources
  • Opening up of new markets
  • Local enterprise
  • TNC interest
  • Inward investment
  • Government support
  • High rates of natural increase
  • Favourable image and popular perception
  • Net in-migration
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Causes of Urban Change


  • natural disaster
  • change in physical geography- e.g. silting of rivers has threatened ports
  • exhaustion of local resources- e.g. coal in the UK
  • de-industrialsation
  • loss of investment confidence
  • political/civil unrest
  • poor image and popular perception
  • net out migration
  • fall in natural increase rate
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Issues resulting from change

Physical/ environmental issues

  • climate- creation of urban micro-climate
  • relief- building on unsuitable sites e.g. steep slope
  • drainage- lack of, water shortage, water pollution, flash floods
  • vegetation- loss of habitats
  • pollution- air (e.g. smog) water, land, noise, visual, thermal
  • increased risk of extreme events, e.g. floods, landslides
  • erosion of rural space
  • more pressure on rural areas immediately beyond urban fringe
  • dereliction and regeneration
  • rising densities within expanding built-up areas
  • increased volumes of traffic
  • traffic congestion
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Issues resulting from change

Economic issues

  • Power- shortage, reliability, cost
  • Industry- lack of jobs or low pay, exploitation, informal economy
  • Settlement- housing quality and quantity, cost, tenure
  • Property prices- housing tenure
  • Cost of living- prices, choice of products and services
  • Transport- congestion, poor public transport
  • Local tax base- compared to demands on public sector services
  • Implication for surrounding rural areas (e.g. as food suppliers)
  • Wider range of job opportunities
  • urban growth- low unemployment, inflation of housing prices, growing demand for commercial and social services, rising cost of living, increased consumption of resources
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Issues resulting from change

Social issues

  • Wealth inequality and deprivation- will probably increase, cycle of poverty
  • Ethnic tensions, prejudice, discrimination, clash of cultures
  • High cost of social support- overstretched, post code rationing
  • Inner city decay
  • Slums and shanties
  • Crime and security issues- vandalism, theft, violence, cost of police
  • Pace of life- stress, nervous breakdowns, family breakdowns
  • growth- high rates immigration and population growth, housing shortages, more social mobility, widening gap between rich and poor, overstretched social services, faster pace of living, more social malaise 
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Cycle of poverty

Cycle of poverty

  • poverty (low wages, unemployment)- free school dinners, possession orders, debt
  • Poor accommodation (slums, overcrowding)- dwellings lack basic needs
  • Strain- (ill health, psychological stress)- assault, vandalism, high infant mortality, work and school absenteeism, children in care, mental illness, maladjustment, suicide
  • Poor educational facilities- high teacher turnover, inadequate buildings
  • lack of occupational skills- returns to poverty
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Case Study- Urban change, Decline in Birmingham

Population fell 9% 1991-2001, 1 million people

  • Birmingham is the UK's 3rd largest city
  • In the late 20th century it faced the effects of the global shift in manufacturing as its industrial base was rapidly eroded and moved somewhere else
  • The economy has now been transformed; nearly 80% of its economic output is generated in the tertiary sector
  • tourism is becoming an increasingly big part in the city, with major facilities such as the international convention centre and national exhibition centre
  • now amounts for over 40% of the the UK conference and exhibition trade
  • there has been a heavy reliance on the financial support of companies to reinvent birmingham
  • The media has been required to promote and spread the image of the 'new' post-industrial Birmingham
  • there has been regeneration of the city's core area and inner ring to provide modern offices and shops that are essential
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Case Study- Urban change, Decline in Birmingham

  • Birmingham has recently enjoyed stong economic growth but this has created great strain on the city's transport system
  • many higher skilled jobs have gone to commuters from the surrounding West Midlands
  • There are high rates of unemployment in the inner-ring districts
  • the benefits of Birmingham's transformation have not been distributed evenly throughout the city
  • prosperous core is surrounded by a ring that despite much regeneration contains old and inadequate housing, poor services and poverty
  • Birminghams population still shows strong polarisation- a widening gap of extremes
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Case Study- Urban change, Decline in Birmingham

  • In 2004, Birmingham was ranked 16/354 districts as the most deprived in England
  • however, many Super Output Areas (SOAs) ranked as being among the 10% most deprived in England
  • there are also pockets of high deprivation towards the urban fringe in areas of more recent residential development
  • many of these pockets coincide with areas of social housing built during the second half of the 20th century
  • 30% of the city's population is made up of people from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Africa and the Caribbean- the majority live in the inner-city ring of deprivation
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Case Study- Urban change, Decline in Birmingham

  • The inadequacy of service provision is certainly a feature of Birmingham's innter-ring of deprivation
  • partly explained historically as the housing was built in the 19th century when the city was an industrial centre and housing was built for factory workers at this time there was a lack of compulsory education meant that few schools were ever built
  • there are select areas of the ring where the more wealthy people lived, mainly in detached villas
  • by the end of WW2 the inner-city belt had become very rundown
  • the ring was ripe for regeneration however the sudden influx of immigrants from the caribbean and the Indian subcontinent put a temporary brake on this- rbrn the worst housing became occupied
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Case Study- Urban change, Decline in Birmingham

  • Eventually, wholesale redevelopment took place, local residents were re-housed
  • however, the top priority of the city at the time was to meet the acute housing need
    • as a consequence, the provision of services, particularly in the inner ring, took second place
  • the re-housiing exercise has failed to eliminate deprivation- however it has been reduced- much deprivation remains in its original locations
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Case Study- Urban change, Growth in Dhaka

  • grown 5 times in the last 20 years, now there are 7 million people
  • capital of Bangladesh
  • both cities are involved in the global shift, Birmingham has been one of its 'losers' Dhaka has been one of its 'winners'
  • TNCs have  been drawn to Dhaka by its large supply of very cheap labour
  • Its 'sweat shops' now produce clothes that are sold in the shops in MEDCs
  • there is still much unemployment because:
    • 1. there is a high rate of population growth created by high volumes of rural-urban migration and high levels of fertility
    • 2. the rate of population growth is outstripping the rate at which new jobs are being created
  • although willing to work long hours for very low wages most people are forced to find other ways of making a living outside the formal job market
  • begging, petty crime and prostitution are other, less legal ways of scratching a living- known as informal economy
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Case Study- Urban change, Growth in Dhaka

  • In Dhaka the driving of richshaws is the most common informal activity and because here is little public transport richshaws play a vital role in keeping the city moving- but add to the general congestion on busy and inadequate roads
  • half a million involved in other informal activities- most of them work from dawn to dusk, earning on a children are inverage of the equivalent of 12p per day to help support their families
  • children work in vulnerable conditions, they are exposed to hazards such as traffic accidents, street crime, violence, drugs, sexual abuse, toxic fumes and waste products these can all lead to serious health problems
  • by LEDC standards Dhaka is a thriving city as it is the commercial core of Bangladesh- the city has growing middle class that is increasingly the demand for consumer and luxury goods
  • the majority of its residents are living below the poverty line surviving on less than £1.50 a day- they like many in Birmingham are missing out on the economic success and growth
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Case Study- Urban change, Growth in Dhaka

  • There is visible evidence that there is a serious problem of deprivation- the malnourished and poorly clothed people can be seen crowding the streets
  • there are large tracts of informal, substandard housing ('bostis'- illegal shanty settlements) scattered around on land regarded by developers as unsuitable because of the flood risk
  • city residents suffer a very high crime rate and frequent outbreaks of political and religious violence
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Case Study- Urban change, Growth in Dhaka

  • The provision of services has lagged very far behind the rise in demand
  • only 2/3 of households are supplied with water
  • it is the only city in Bangladesh with a water-borne sewage system-this serves only 25% of the population, while 30% are served with septic tanks
  • dhaka has one of the highest rates of death from infectious disease of any city in Asia
  • the worst provided areas are 'bostis'
  • there are only 45,000 hospital beds in the whole country and there over 4000 people per doctor
  • life expectancy has risen from 37 to 60 in the last 50 years
  • there are 16,000 primary schools in Dhakam 20% of children do not recieve compulsory education, the literacy rate is only 45%
  • due to the fact it is a mega city and the speed of its recent growth there has been a huge backlock in service provision
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=when a person's well being falls below a level generally regarded as an acceptable minimum

the multiple deprivation index (MDI) has been developed to assess this multi-faceted situation across the whole  country

The MDI values for local authority areas are calculated by averaging the MDI scores of the 'super output areas' (SOAs) 

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Socio-economic deprivation

poverty is found in a variety of locations:

  • poverty clusters in inner-city areas, ex-industrial areas e.g. Hulme in Manchester
  • Persistent areas of poverty e.g. East End of London
  • Marginal land- on steep slopes or areas prone to flooding e.g. shanty towns in Rio de Janeiro
  • Fringe areas- peripheral estates often have public housing e.g. Glasgow

Poverty is often seen as including:

  • fuel poverty- can't afford to keep warm
  • service poverty- have little access to services
  • financial exclusion- financial institutions limit support
  • digital divide- lack access to ICT and the internet
  • powerlessness- lack of political influence
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Socio-economic deprivation

Groups that are most prone to poverty include:

  • Elderly people- pensions are low and rarely keep up with inflation
  • Ethnic minorities- often suffer discrimination so have low-paid jobs
  • Unemployed people- especially if long term due to illness or disability
  • Single parents with young families- unlikely to be able to work and can't afford child care
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Socio-economic differences

These result from the polarisation of groups- like attracts like. Also, it reflects the role of house prices in restricting access to certain areas

There are negative forces which tend to force groups out of areas:

  • high house prices
  • discrimination in employment
  • perceived threat of violence

There are also positive forces which tend to attract groups to areas:

  • social contacts e.g. family, friends
  • Cultural practices e.g. religion, schools, entertainment
  • service provision e.g. special shops, finance
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Managing Service provision

multiple deprivation is related to services, particularly social services such as nurseries, schools, medical centres, hospitals. dentists, care homes and libraries

in many countries it is the role of the government and planners to forecast the type and scale of services that will be necessary as a resulting of ongoing urban growth

There are 4 major complications with matching the provision of services to the spacial pattern of demand:

  • thresholds:
    • every service needs the support of a minimum number of people
    • for example the number and location of primary schools will depend on the number of children aged 5 to 11 years
    • however, demand distributions change
  • Life-cycle changes:
    • our service needs change as we age
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Managing service provision

  • Areas and populations
    • new suburban housing estate attracting first-time buyers and young families- the needs are mainly schools, the children leave home, the parents remain and the demand for schools falls and the demand for day centres, medical and home support increases
  • physical access
    • Not every service can be provided within easy walking distance
    • some people are more mobile than others
    • leads to the wider issue of traffic and transport
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Managing growth in demand for services

Demand for services is exceeding supply:

rising demand is due to:

  • an ageing population
  • more urban poor
  • increased expectations
  • ever smaller family units- high divorce rates
  • increased mental health issues and stress

falling or limited supply is due to:

  • increased cost of providing services (technology, transport, labour costs,etc)
  • reduced funding (less income from local taxes, etc)
  • widening types of demand- can't meet them all
  • danger of creating a dependency culture

causes a vicious cycle of decay

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Circle of urban decay

circle of urban decay

  • declining job opportunities; rising unemployment
  • decline in services
  • physical fabric and infrastructure deteriorate
  • more enterprising, economically-active people move away
  • increasing decay 
  • loss of investment confidence
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Strategies used to manage socio-economic issues

1) Bottom up

  • self-help schemes e.g. Assisted Self Help (ASH) in Rio de Janeiro shanty towns
  • Co-operative schemes e.g. housing associations, credit schemes
  • Improved education and hence economic mobility

2) Top down

  • Refurbishment e.g. Glasgow Eastern Area Renewal project in 1976-87
  • Urban redevelopment or renewal, e.g. London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) of 1980s
  • Urban regeneration e.g. Neighbourhood Renewal Fund 2001-06
  • Wider policies such as taxation, social security etc
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Case Study- Shanty towns- Slums of hope?


  • can build in own design
  • can expand as needed
  • cheap to built- scrap material
  • rent free


  • poor but often link illegally to power grid
  • no tarmac roads but no cars

Sanitation- Lots of recycling- night soil for rural areas or urban farms


  • Large 'black' informal economy
  • Flexible- easily adjust to changing demand for labour
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Case Study- Shanty towns- Slums of hope?


  • community generated- linked to needs
  • often listen to elders


  • community polices itself


  • often strong sense of community
  • migration is usually from same village or to a relative
  • run own affairs
  • can avoid taxation, national service etc
  • can 'hide' from responsibilities e.g. arranged marraige
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Case Study- Shanty towns- Slums of despair?


  • often unsafe and prone to fire
  • lack of space- no open space
  • no foundations so collapse
  • don't own the land so can be forced off
  • often on unsafe marginal land

Infrastructurelack of services, fires are common as people cook on fires

SanitationLack leads to disease and epidemics, high infant death rate


  • Lack of permanent jobs
  • no job security
  • low pay, no pensions
  • child labour
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Case Study- Shanty towns- Slums of despair?


  • outside state system so few formal qualification
  • often traditional content


  • Police and security keep out so easily exploited
  • high murder and crime rates


  • Dominated by 'men of violence'
  • Ignored by government as have no right to vote
  • Self interest overrules community spirit
  • No legal rights
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Solutions to shanty town problem

Assisted self help (ASH) e.g. Rochina in Brazil

  • Advantagescheap, quick as simple, low technology, creates local jobs, maintains community spirit
  • Disadvantages- money is spread thin, can take time as small scale, keeps housing poor standard, lack skills or are temporary, can divide the community

Slum clearance e.g. Harare in Zimbabwe

  • Advantages- quick, removes eyesore, reduces source of crime etc, restores legal land ownership
  • Disadvantages- causes massive resistance, simply moves problem elsewhere, may rebuild back on same land, corruption

New Towns e.g. Cairo

  • Advantages- quality housing, creates jobs, spreads problem elsewhere, improves infrastructure
  • Disadvantages- increased rents, people don't want to live there, lack of jobs, high cost
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Solutions to shanty town problem

High density public housing e.g. Hong Kong

  • Advantages- quality housing, security of tenure, has infrastructure so less disease etc, structurally safer
  • disadvantages- increased rents, often rules e.g. no pets, cost of services, lower density than slums so re-housing needed, may attract more to migrate in, increases birth rate

Reverse rural to urban migration e.g. brazil

  • advantages- develops interior rural areas, reduces pressure on city, low cost to city, return to own culture
  • disadvantages- can damage environment, moves the problem elsewhere, high cost to rural area, people don't want to live there, few rural jobs
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Environmental issues

The following environmental issues occur in urban areas:

  • pollution- air, water, noise, visuals, solids, light
  • water- scarcity (transfer schemes, use of aquifers, reservior building
  • Traffic- congestion, pollution, land use (roads, car parks, garages etc)
  • Land- pressure on marginal land and ecosystems (pars, conservation, green belts)
  • Micro-climate- heat island, wind channelling, higher rainfall, smog
  • Dereliction- visual pollution, safety, health
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Water and waste

water is vital for human survival, water is needed for:

  • domestic consumption
  • manufacturing use
  • cooling purposes in electric power stations
  • sewage treatment and waste disposal

Demand for water in England and Wales has risen to 40 billion litres a day

Water supplies are readily contaminated for example, by the discharge of urban sewage and industrial wastes into rivers and lakes and by the pollution carried in urban runoff- Agricultural practices such as applying manure and artificial fertilisers, can lead to eutropication

There is a problem of collecting and storing water to ensure a continuous supply, even in long dry seasons

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Water and waste

MEDC produce large amount of solid waste due to their high levels of consumption and their throwaway socieites

  • recycling waste materials is the obvious way forward, but at the moment, for cost and technological reasons recycling is mainly limited to paper, glass and plastics
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Traffic and congestion

Traffic congestion is the outcome of a number of factors:

  • outdated and inadequate road systems,
  • the great rise in private-car ownership
  • the concentration of services and jobs in the  core areas of towns and cities

Traffic congestion is a waste of time and fuel but also increases pollution, noise and stress

various forms of management e.g. segregation, parking, vehicle control, public transport, traffic information systems

these interventions may prove effective in MEDC cities but they are unlikely to work in many LEDC cities

In LEDCs much of the congestion is caused by para-transit

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Case Study- traffic congestion London


  • rise in private car ownership
  • increased dispersal and services (e.g. shop)
  • decline in public transport
  • increased complexity of traffic mix (e.g. lorries)
  • outdated and inadequate road patterns (often radial)

problems that result:

  • wastes time especially at peak times
  • cost of fuel and increased fuel consumption
  • increased air pollution
  • increased noise
  • driver stress- increased accidents
  • cost of damage to roads
  • space taken up by roads, parking, garages etc
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Case Study- traffic congestion e.g. London


  • penalise car users e.g. congestion charges, increased tax, bans, higher fuel cost
  • improved traffic management- traffic lights, roundabouts, speed restrictions
  • parking controls- park and ride schemes, permits, charging
  • improve non-car options- e.g. cycle paths, walking, bus
  • improve vehicle technology- electric cars (LEV and ZEV)
  • improve public transport- low prices, bus-lanes, tram systems, mass transit
  • traffic information systems- plot quicker routes
  • non-transport options- e.g. teleworking, flexi-hours, compaction of cities
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increasing volumes of waste e.g. mumbai


  • recycling and sorting of waste
  • re-using materials
  • incineration- generate electricity (danger of dioxins)
  • charging for waste disposal
  • controls or taxes on packaging
  • find new disposal sites in LEDCs
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Pollution (air, water, noise, light, visual, therm


  • traffic congestion
  • urban canyons- buildings trap fumes, heat etc
  • domestic and commercial heating and cooling
  • buildings give off heat, light
  • increased urban population


  • increased diseases- asthma, bronchitis, cancer
  • acid rain- damage to buildings- caused by sulphur dioxide
  • creation of urban micro-climate
  • smog and photochemical smog
  • lost days at work
  • cost of cleaning buildings etc
  • lower sunshine hours cause depression
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Pollution (air, water, noise, light, visual, therm


  • laws- clean air act
  • inspection and maintenance checks on vehicles etc
  • movement of sources e.g. heavy industry to LEDCs
  • technology= more recycling of water, air or reusing e.g. waste water for watering plants
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Growth of urban areas


  • improved transport/roads so longer commuting is possible
  • people living at lower density e.g. smaller family units
  • ageing population- want to be near urban services
  • increased urban population
  • building of speculative estates ahead of demand
  • green belts- developers 'jump' the belt
  • development of more urban fringe activities
  • suburbanisation- in the USA this was called 'white flight'
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Growth of urban areas- push and pull factors

Push from inner zones:

  • physical- pollution, little open space/ gardens, congestion
  • economic- high rents and prices, high rates and taxes, parking problems
  • social- fear of crime and violence, older ageing property, influx of migrants, overstretched services
  • political- extremist politics, fear of unrest

Pull to suburbs

  • physical- fresh country air, more open space/ gardens, easier accessibility
  • economic- lower house prices, more employment, space for parking
  • social- safer neighbourhoods, newer larger houses, mix with similar people, better schools and services
  • political- moderate politics
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Growth of urban areas


  • building on floodplains means an increased flood risk
  • building on unstable slopes can cause landslides
  • loss of habitats e.g. wetlands
  • loss of farmland and open space e.g. woodlands
  • absorption of surrounding villages and towns


  • restrict outward growth e.g. green belt policy
  • deflect growth to planned centres e.g. new town policy
  • increase urban density- more vertical building (compaction)
  • re-develop derelict or brownfield land
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Urban dereliction


  • simple ageing of buildings with time
  • maintenance costs exceed income from property
  • movement of urban activities to fringe locations (cheaper and accessible)
  • building design doesn't suit modern uses e.g. open plan offices
  • decreased access by transport (due to increase in lorry size)
  • changes in technology- both building technology and process technology
  • basic changes in urban economy because of the collapse of notable activities


  • derelict buildings and land- also called brownfield sites
  • visual pollution
  • increased vandalism, damage fires etc
  • increased risk to health and safety (e.g. building collapse)
  • contaminated sites- toxic residues
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Brownfield sites

In England, it is now government policy that 60% of all new houses should be built on brownfield land- this helps cut down on the amount of greenfield land, but there are some real difficulties:

  • Not all local authorities have large amounts of brownfield land
  • there are disagreements about the definition of 'brownfield' for example, the government view is that old quarries are not brownfield land but residential gardens are. garden grabbing is becoming more popular- gardens of existing houses are sold off and the old house is demolished and more built in its place- 1/5 new home in the south-east is built this way
  • Across the UK there are thousands of sites which have been contaminated by previous industrial uses- cleaning them up is expensive and challenging
  • not all brownfield sites have the physical access necessary for residential development
  • the problem of 'bad' neighbours- e.g. cannot build houses next to a sewage treatment works or a heavy industrial plant
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Building on floodplains

most of the urban properties in the UK ruined by flood damaged have been located on flood plains e.g. doncaster, hull, worcester and tewkesbury- these periodic extreme and catastrophic floods are a warning of the risk of allowing urban development on these cities

  • there is a need to build more and affordable housing
  • over 5 million people are now living or working in flood risk areas in England and Wales
  • floodplains offer level and fairly cheap sites; they have relatively little agricultural value and because they have often been ignored by early urban growth, they can provide sites close to urban cores
  • disadvantage- original value is a natural 'safety valve' to help dissipate flood water
  • flood risk is also a high risk in Bangladesh- the heavy rains and the convergence of major river greatly heighten the flood risk, every year thousands are drowned and homes are destroyed
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Case study, management- London MEDC

population 8.5m, density 4800 people per km2, area 1600km2

Traffic and congestion

  • car ownership high: 5% have 3 or more cars. 2.5 million cars have 35% have no cars
  • congestion charge since 2003 has reduced traffic by 20% extended in 2007

Waste disposal

  • 4million tonnes a year
  • recycling of paper, glass, plastic and metals
  • export waste to 18 landfill sites or abroad


  • clean air acts have reduced air pollution
  • less industry
  • chief cause in cars = photochemicals
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Case study, management- London MEDC

Water supply

  • reservoirs e.g. lee valley, water transfers, thames and wells
  • groundwater table is sinking
  • frequent leaks as old pipes


  • piped sewage
  • dumped offshore or dried and recycled as fertiliser


  • redundant docklands and industrial sites
  • toxic contamination
  • regeneration schemes e.g. Canary wharf, 2012 olympic sites
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Case study, management, Mumbai LEDC/NIC

population 18million, density 29,000 people per km2, area 438km2

Traffic and congestion

  • car ownership low: 90% use public transport, great mix of traffic types
  • 7 islands so lots of bottlenecks
  • 590 vehicles per km
  • 6000 road deaths a year

Waste disposal

  • 5000 tonnes of solid waste a day, a lot of wastedumped by roads or in rivers


  • garbage burning
  • use of biofuels in homes
  • heavy industry
  • 2 stroke vehicle engines
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Case study, management, Mumbai LEDC/NIC

Water supply

  • rely on lakes
  • demand exceeds supply
  • unreliable in dry season
  • shanty areas rely on rain as no piped water
  • often polluted


  • rare in shanty areas
  • pollutes rivers etc
  • latrines leach into groundwater


  • redundant docklands
  • old cotton mills
  • squatter occupied, little funds for redevelopment
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Sustainability in urban areas

sustainability= meeting the needs of today without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs, 3 questions must be asked:

1. What are the needs of today?

  • health and welfare needs- decent affordable housing, medical services, protection from environmental hazards
  • social needs- education, personal security, equal opportunities
  • economic needs- adequate livelihood, secure job, range of employment
  • political needs- freedom of speech, civil rights, participation in the decision-making process
  • environmental needs- food and water, raw materials, free from pollution

2. is it possible to meet these needs today? no, there is a huge urban backlog of unmet needs which needs to be cleared

3. will it still be possible to meet these needs tomorrow? no, urban areas will always consume non-renewables, pollute the environment and embody risk

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improving sustainability

'improving the quality of life while living within the earth's carrying capactities'

five courses of action:

  • minimising the ecological footprint
  • improving the quality of the living environment
  • waging war on deprivation and discrimination
  • raising public participation in government and decision-making
  • ensuring a sound economic base

ecological footprint= how much land it takes to provide the resources used by, and to dispose of the waste produced by individuals or groups of people

it includes the amount of farmland, forest, water, energy and other material inputs

ultimately the ecological footprint is expressed in the number of hectares of land needed to meet all the needs of one person

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Ecological footprint

there is little footprint data for LEDCs and their cities

in most European cities the footprint is approaching 3 global hectares but in the USA it is nearer 4

the total ecological footprint of London is around 125 times the city's built up area, 60 million hectares

in ecological terms we need to understand that nearly all the land 'used' by urban areas in fact lies outside their boundaries- we could think of this space as urbanised land

urbanised land= the land required to meet the needs the population of a town or city, that is, all the land used to supply food, water and other resources as well as recreational space

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Management Challenges

  • management challenges entail how to balance the environmental needs (e.g. hydrology and vegetation) against economic needs (e.g. employment and transport) and social needs (e.g. decent housing, cultural, entertainment and historic aspects)
  • Sustainability is the ability to carry the system on into the future without a reduction in the system or standard of living
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Management issues

Sustainability is about reducing inputs and reducing harmful outputs but also about ensuring the flows in the system are efficient, Issues:

  • what is the exact nature of the environment and water resources and their status
  • sheer cost- short versus long term and local verses national issue
  • who pays versus who gains- should tax payers subsidise developments that benefit a small group? the construction of eco-towns exemplifies this and the Nimbyism this produces
  • political will e.g. London in reality is much bigger in area and population than the Greater London Council and covers parts of a large number of other authorities
  • technology- has the area got enough expertise to develop the challenging urban environment?
  • size or scale- definition of the area that makes up the project area; it is easier to manage smaller areas such as a local neighbourhood compared to a city
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Management Issues

  • How long will it take- quick fix versus long term? urban areas are dynamic so developments can't be too long in realisation e.g. the Thames Gateway
  • Wider impacts- what implications are there for areas beyond the project area e.g. London's ecological footprint is 125 times as large as the city
  • Can cities ever be sustainable? if not, where do all those people go?
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Approaches to Sustainability

  • Regulation e.g. Clean Air Act, green belts
  • Planning and design e.g. integrated transport, building design
  • Economic e.g landfill taxes, congestion charging
  • Technology e.g. solar panels, electric vehicles
  • Admit defeat e.g. encourage urban depopulation
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Sustainability in practice

  • There a few cities in different parts of the world that have pioneered moves to become more sustainable
  • these include Curitiba (brazil), Chattanooga (USA) and Putrajaya (Malaysia)
  • Agenda 21 has been another significant step forward
  • At the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992, the United Nations agreed that the best starting point to achieve sustainable development is at a local level
  • 2/3 of the 2500 action items of Agenda 21 relate to local councils
  • Each local authority has had to draw up its own Local Agenda 21 strategy following discussions with its inhabitants about what they think is important for their area and their quality of life
  • The principle of sustainability must form a central part of every strategy
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Case Study- Different Scales- Very local, Bedzed

The Beddington Zero Energy Development (bedZED) was completed in 2002 in the London Borough of Sutton

  • built on reclaimed land
  • 82 homes (10 for key workers and 15 affordable homes for social housing)
  • Houses face south for heat and offices face north for shade
  • Designed to be fully insulated so heated by occupants and appliances e.g. cookers and solar panels
  • Built from natural, recycled or reclaimed materials
  • Zero use of fossil fuels- combined heat and power plant using waste
  • Layout designed to favour pedestrians and cyclists
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Case Study- Different Scales- Urban district- Stoc

The Hammarby scheme in southern Stockholm aims at sustainability by:

  • energy- residents will produce more than 50% of their energy needs for combustible waste which is burned for power production. Energy is also generated from solar panels and cells
  • waste- block-based recycling using underground waste disposal pipes for sorted waste. Organic waste is converted into fertiliser while paper, glass and metal are recycled
  • sewage- used to produce biogas and heat from the treated water is used for district heating and to power buses and vans
  • transport- the target is for 80% of journeys to be on public transport or bicycle. There is a carpool system and a network of cycle paths
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Case Study- Different Scales- Town- Eco-towns in t

in July 2007 the UK government asked for bids to build new towns of 5000- 20,000 people that were able to:

  • be carbon neutral in construction and operation
  • have 50% affordable housing
  • have lots of open spaces and gardens
  • have shops and services within walking distance
  • be highly insulated and with solar panels
  • have houses built from timber

currently there are 10 sites designated

e.g. Bordon

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Case Study- Different Scales- City- Shanghai

Dongtan, a new city built on an island in the Yangtze, aims at sustainability by:

  • energy- entirely from renewable sources: wind farms, solar and biogas
  • water supply- use of grey water: recycled drainage water to supply toilets, irrigation etc
  • food supply- will produce all its own milk, eggs and vegetables. Hydroponics will produce rice
  • transport- use of hydrogen-fuelled buses. Streets laid out to favour public transport, bikes and pedestrians
  • environment- mixture of high-density housing, parks, forests, golf courses and a wetland park
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Wider Planning

following the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992, governments decided that each local authority had to draw up its own strategy for sustainable development In the UK this initiative was referred to as Local  Agenda 21 listed a number of key areas for urban sustainability:

  • promoting sustainable land-use planning and management (use of brownfield sites etc)
  • promoting the integrated provision of environment infrastructure- water, sanitation, drainage and solid-waste management (promoting recycling)
  • promoting sustainable energy (reducing the reliance on fossil fuels) and transport systems (away from private cars) in human settlements
  • promoting sustainable construction industry activities- using carbon neutral materials

however, there is opposition to new developments. They may be sustainable in a day-to-day sense and may even be built from recycled or renewable materials, but they still occupy land that once grew crops or sheltered an ecosystem

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Wider Planning

  • Eco-towns have been stalled in the UK by protests and only 2 of the proposed 10 are currently (2009) likely to be built
  • the disruption caused by construction of these towns (noise, lorries, etc) and the impact the additional new buildings could have on local flooding are 2 of the main objections
  • so, even if urban areas themselves can be made self-sustaining, it is unlikely that they will be sustainable in the broader sense
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This is amazing. Perfect for my studies.


Is there perhaps a way that you could modify these notes into a microsoft word document? It would be a great help :) . 

Thank you :) 

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