Urbanisation Processes

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Contemporary Urbanisation Processes

Urbanisation - The increase in the percentage of people living in towns and cities. This is mostly due to rural to urban migration and then increasing fertility rates as a result of this migration

Suburbanisation - The movement of people, industry and services from the central parts of towns and cities to the suburban outskirts. This often involves swallowing up smaller surrounding settlements, therefore it is a physical expansion of towns and cities

Counterurbanisation - The movement of population from large metropolitan areas (cities) to smaller towns and rural areas. The movement often means 'leapfrogging' the protected green belt area around large cities. It has happened because of improved transport and information technology because many people think lving away from large cities will improve their quality of life

Reurbanisation - The movement of people and investment back into central areas in the CBD or inner city. This is often due to regeneration schemes and/or gentrification. More recently it is linked to schemes which attempt to create urban sustainable communities

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Causes of Urbanisation

Push Factors (Rural)

  • Lack of jobs
  • Agricultural jobs - affected by flooding - lack of food
  • Natural disasters - more aid given to cities
  • Caste system - born into a social class fmaily - stay there, little social mobility

Combination of rural deprivation and environmental disasters which is pushing many young men towards urban areas

Pull Factors (Urban)

  • Jobs - informal sector - seasonal, temporary
  • Infrastructure - sanitation, healthcare, schools
  • Perception of urban life
  • Family ties
  • Social freedom
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Urbanisation Causes - Mumbai


  • Large population growth in rural areas puts pressure on the environment.
  • Sub-division of land passed on makes subsistence life more difficult and reduces the assets against which a rural in habitant could get a loan
  • Increased mechanisation of agriculture, feed growing population - greater rural unemployment 
  • Large number of migrants - consequence of natural disasters, flooding in the monsoon season 
  • Indian cities recieve approximately 6x the investment of rural areas - rapidly developing Mumbai attracts foregin investment. Wages 6x that or rual areas 
  • Better medical and health care - lower infant mortality in cities
  • A chance to escape the rigid caste system, still very strong in rural areas as well as arranged marriages 


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Urbanisation Effects - Mumbai


  • Economic effect - most migrants forced into underemployment, extremely low paid work
  • The city did not gain much money through taxes to reinvest - resulted in social problems as there was a lack of clean water and sanitation 
  • In one informal settlement in Dharavi, typhoid infections are up to 3000 a day
  • Evident and growing gap between rich and poor, increasingly divided and segregated city
  • Contamination of the River Mithi - widely used by local residents as a toilet - major cause of groundwater contamination 
  • Inadequate water supply
  • Traffic - high levels of atmospheric pollution - respiratory health problems 
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Urbanisation Planning and Management - Mumbai

Economic  - In Daharvi people often need loans to pay for health or other vital services but cant get access to credit

  • Micro credit scheme - NGO's and charities provide small loans for start up businesses.
  • Benefit - low interest, specialist small loans - stimulating the economy + Dharavi job market
  • Negative - not anyone can apply (need to be literate, can manage money)
  • Slum tours - locals earn 100% of profits, raises awareness, yet small scale and dependent on literacy and tour operators trying to take over market

Social - biggest issue facing low income groups, paticularly new migrants, is affordable housing. Many people failing to benefit from the city's ongoing Vision Mumbai scheme, rely on NGO's

  • National Slum Dwellers Federation (NSDF) - group helping locals, provide grass roots assistance. Reduce flooding problemand increase sanitation, designed ideal slum dwelling
  • Benefit - government agreed to fund the building of 24,000 of these homes, built away from slum site (rehousing), cleaning Dharavi
  • Negative - quite expensive and limited benefits - 1 million people in slums, only 24,000 new houses
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Urbanisation Planning and Management - Mumbai

Environmental - a major embarrassment and health threat to Mumbai is the River Mithi. Years of industrial and municipal waste and sewage have rendered the river biologically dead. This contamination killed 1000 people in the 2005 floods

  • River Mithi recommendations  scheme - buffer schemes to clear the banks, 200m buffer zone - short term creation of jobs in scheme
  • Benefit - included rain water harvesting, clean water, drinking, washing - reduced diseases like cholera. Cheap to implement. Less pollution in the river from factories and humans
  • Negative - expensive to manage, could disrupt industry and cause loss of jobs. Approximately 15,000 homes lost out of 1 million residents to create the buffer zone

Vision Mumbai - The city governement has come up with the idea of getting private developers to build improved quality housing. Dharavi sits on expensive land needed to expand Mumabai's CBD. The idea allows property developers to build expensive apartments and shops on the condition that some of the profit must be used to build apartments for the poor

Some experts believe that investment should go to rural areas instead, to stem the flood of out migration from those areas and reduce pressures on cities.

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Suburbanisation Causes - Bolton

  • Transport improvement - especially car ownership which has given people greater freedom over where they live
  • 1960s - council estates, after WW2 local authorities built suburban council estates to improve working class living conditions
  • 1970s - private suburban estates, increases prosperity, easier access to mortgages and use of cheaper building materials allowed more people to buy their own homes
  • Industry has moved to suburban locations to be close to motorway links - population has followed in suburban housing estates
  • More recently jobs in business parks on the edge of town e.g. Middlebrook

More importantly people want to leave the inner city and live in the suburbs because of the perception of a better quality of life

  • Less congestion, pollution and crime
  • Better schools
  • Close to facilities
  • Close to motorways
  • Nicer housing
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Suburbanisation Effects - Bolton

  • New investment in Middlebrook - provided jobs and facilities. New retail park, cinema and business park. Bolton Wanderers have also built their new stadium here. People moving are also close to the M61, making Manchester and other towns and easy commute
  • Local authorities have welcomed increased tax revenues from new businesses and owner occupiers. Existing businesses, such as local shops, have recieved increased trade
  • However people have complained about increased traffic, paticularly on match days. This congestion, along with more visual, air and noise pollution, have made Middlebrook a less attractive and peaceful place to live. Bolton council needs to spend money on infrastructure which had led to increased council taxes
  • In Australia, popularity and promotion of suburban growth by the government  has resulted in large urban sprawl on the edge of Melbourne and Sydney, where vast low density housing developments leave people reliant on cars and for some a feeling of physical/social isolation
  • Left problems in inner city areas that people have moved from - decrease in customers has led to some shops and businesses closing, increasing unemployment, closing facilities - Social segregation in Bolton, people unable to afford to move to the suburbs have left behind a marginilised population, like in Crompton - multiple deprivation: high crime rates, low quality rundown housing and a poor environment 
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Suburbanisation Planning and Management - Bolton

  • In the UK planning and management challenges from suburban growth are being dealt with
  • Since the1950s Green Belt regualtions have helped to prevent further loss of countryside at the urban/rural fringe as both residential and commercial growth has been restricted
  • Development of brownfield sites - sites in both the suburbs of Bradshaw and inner city Crompton have been redeveloped with a range of housing types as a response to demographic changes, including single occupancy units. Linked to this is the process of gentrification which has helped take pressure of the suburbs as younger professionals are making a lifestyle choice to live in inner city areas
  • Accusation that expensive house prices have made towns and cities more socially divided, many people are outpriced from exclusive suburbs - planners have responded to this by only giving permission for a new suburban development if they submit plans for a quota of affordable and mixed tenure properties
  • Pressure on transport and infrastructure - suburbanisation in Middlebrook has created frequent congestion - planners have attempted to manage this with a new rail link to the area, with connections to Manchester and Bolton to promote the use of public transport. However creating a park and ride facility has encouraged more commuters into the area which adds serious congestion problems in the morning and early evening rush hours
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Suburbanisation Planning and Management - Bolton

  • Reduced interception and infiltration rates of local catchment areas as vegetation and soil cover has been lost - increase in flooding within drainage basins. In Middlebrook this has been successfully managed with a range of hard engineering measures including channelisation and culverts, and soft engineering further downstream in Lostock, where floodplains remain undeveloped and are allowed to flood in times of high discharge
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Counter-urbanisation causes - Parbold

  • The perception of a better quality of life
  • Inner city problems of congestion, rising crime and polluted, rundown environments have spread to the suburbs and people have taken the decision to turn their backs on large cities 
  • Families looking for a safer more relaxed environment to bring up children, the retired looking for a more attractive, quieter place to live and young professionals recruited by high-tec, research led industries who are increasingly locating into rural science parks 
  • Increased car ownership/ road improvements - commuters into the city, M61 important is encouraging move north from Manchester to desirable smaller towns such as Chorely and Buckshaw village
  • Retirement - people retiring at an earlier age with good pensions are now free to live wherever they want, some are choosing attractive rural villages in rural counties like Devon
  • Technology/Teleworking - the modem means that more and more companies are encourgaing people to work from home, it often works out cheaper from the company and gives workers more flexibility on house location
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Counter-urbanisation effects - Parbold

  • Rural turnaround  - young people leaving villages to look for education and employment, decline of village born locals because of death, in-migration of younger, wealthy urban families with younger children
  • Positive - business owners who welcome extra trade, people get jobs created due to the rise in population, newcomer's maintain the demand for essential services e.g. schools, post offices, local council collect more tax
  • Negative - newcomer's dont support local services and contribute to the local economy but continue to use the city for shopping, leisure and entertainment, house prices will increase and force people out of the area (displacement), trafiic, congestion and increases pollution, necomers dont respect traditional rural values and traditions
  • May result in a culture clash between the two groups; original longstanding residents and new arrivals - different ideas and values
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Counter-urbanisation Planning and Management

  • Responding to concerns from long standing residents about the growth of the village and its continued popularity. Small housing estates were developed in the 60s and 70s, but two village conservation areas and surrounding green belt land means few new builds have been allowed. Instead local authority favours the conversions of old barns and farm buildings to bring them back into use and avoid building on greenfield sites
  • Increasing flooding from the river Douglas around Station Road where there has been recent commerical and residential development has increased run-off levels. In response the West Lancashire Council has joined with the Environment agency to reduce the flood risk to over 120 homes and businesses in the Parbold area by creating a new culvert 
  • Buckshaw Village - been built as a repsonse to increasing counter-urbanisation from nearby cities like Manchester - planners benefitted from being able to anticipate and address planning and managment issues - village planned with the intention of self-sufficiency; an industrial estate already attracting investment and providing local employment. Cuts down on energy intensive commuting. Phase 2 will see the addition of more facilities including a leisure centre. Sustainable principles with cycle lanes and public transport, a train station opened and should reduce car dependency. Sustainable urban draining system for storm water drainage which ensures no discharge leaves the site to contaminate nearby rivers
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Counter-urbanisation Planning and Management

  • Measures include roadside verge soakaways and the use of retention ponds which are fully intergrated into the landscaping
  • Avoided being socially exclusive, a common problem in other areas experiecing counter-urbanisation. This is because of new planning laws stipulate large developments must include a quota of affordable housing and mixed tenures
  • New retirement village built with 200 homes aimed at over 55's 
  • However some resident surveys have revealed high levels of car usage, suggesting changes in habits and behaviour may take time
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Re-urbanisation causes - London

Econmic growth and urban redevelopment

  • Early 1980s, Urban Development Coroporations (UDCs) were established to regenerate rundown areas surrounding the CBDs of certain UK cities that had been hit hard by de-industraialisation - the London Docklands was the first of these schemes
  • Combination of public money and private investment, spent on physically improving the area, which then attracts more investment from property developers, leisure and retail providers but also companies emrging in the new 'knowledge economies' of finance, marketing and managment
  • Attracts people back into city centre to live and work, especially young professionals, and many more regeneration schemes have followed in inner London e.g. redevelopment of Stratford as part of the strategic planning of the Olympics in 2012
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Re-urbanisation causes - London


  • Individually led by a few young professionals who invest in rundown inner city areas to take advantage of low house prices in central locations and character properties
  • Brick Lane - began renovations and others follow, including business investors in restaurants and other leisure facilities to take advantage of a newly emerging wealthy customer base
  • I feel these two processes are very much lifestyle choices for Britain's young professionals over the past couple of decades; who have rejected or postponed the previous middle class trend of settling down to family life in the suburbs and instead chose city living, as singles or childess couples, with all the leisure, retail and cultural attractions important to a metropolitan image and lifestyle
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Re-urbanisation causes - London


  • Increase in student numbers, including post-graduates, have increased population numbers
  • Increasing success in attracting international students, which is vital to university funding, by establishments such as the LSE and UCL 
  • Students will find work locally once they have graduated and continue to live in central as a lifestyle choice


  • Large increase in immigration to the UK from 1995-2005 of around 5 million people. Many of these new arrivals have settled in inner city London areas such as Clapham and Tower Hamlets, therefore increasing the population in those areas
  • Also some of the highest birth rates in the UK in recent years have been recorded in these areas
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Re-urbanisation effects - London


  • In the Docklands, property-led regeneration has seen a complete refurbishment of once derelict and contaminated industrial buildings and land. Buildings have been brought back into use ans he area has been landscaped, with a wildfowl sanctury developed at East India Dock
  • Likewise gentrification in Islington and the Brick Lane areas has led to individually-led renovations of poorly maintained properties. Local councils have improved the area with new street furniture, landscaping and provision of recreational areas, recognising attracting wealthier residents will bring more revenue


  • Docklands has attracted £7 billion of private investment from property developers, financial institutions and leisure providers, creating new employment close to some of the most deprived wards in the country
  • In Brick Lane young professionals have opened up businesses such as wine bars, restaurants and up-market shops - creates new jobs but also more tax for the local council who can spend it on improving the area
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Re-urbanisation effects - London

  • In Spittlefields there has also been an increase in demand for local businesses such as builders, gardeners and decorators 
  • Many jobs created are in professional sectors in which locals have no experience or qualifications leading to a skills mismatch. In Tower Hamlets unemployment remains high


  • Docklands now have the Light Railway service which cuts journey times to central London by 20 minutes. Also new pedestrian and cycle routes
  • Provision of exclusive eating and drinking places, up-market health clubs and sailing club has caused complaints and resentment from lower income residents who cannot afford them. Similarly in Brick Lane where valuable local services to the longstanding Bangladeshi population such as laundrettes have been priced out of business
  • Wider claims that both gentrification and regeneration has benefited the incoming professionals at the expense of the lower-income locals and has led to a culture clash
  • Developing land for lucrative expensive apartments has led to a displacement of local tenants, in Islington landlords have sold to incoming gentrifiers, alos depriving residents of affordable housing 
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Re-urbanisation Planning and Management

  • Regeneration scheme in the London Docklands by the LDDC in the 1980s was controlled by quango which was given special powers by the national government to bypass local planning - allowed developers and investors to build radical new buildings and infrastructure such as Canary Wharf which was extremely succesful in attracting £7 billion of private investment and jobs to the area
  • Propety led scheme, led to refurbishment of derelict warehouses and physical/ environmental improvements
  • Fast track planning powers allowed Docklands Light railway to be built - cut journeys to London by 20 minutes
  • Major issue with bypassing local authority, process is undemocratic and led to neglect of local low income groups in Hackney - locals displaced as young professionals moved in. However LDDC did attempt to manage the issue by allocating affordable housing for locals and proving training schemes in ICT to overcome the skills mismatch that prevented local schol leavers from getting the new jobs created
  • Recent regeneration in London e.g. Stratford due to the Olympics has planned to be more inclusive. However there has still been problems - original plans stated that 75% of new builds should be affordable, this was changed to 35%, a blow to lower income locals as house prices are a major issue in London 
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Re-urbanisation Planning and Management

  • Focus on high tech jobs in the new media centre, developed with Facebook and Google is unlikely to solve the urgent need for local employment of lower qualified young people 
  • Contrastingly in areas like Brick Lane and Islington gentrification is and unplanned process as higher income indiviuals move in - planning and management responses from local authorities have been mostly to encourage gentrification as it leads to an increase tax base
  • In Brick Lane the council have invested in street furniture and landsaping to enhance the built environment and have renovated and renamed the local tube station
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Gentrification - Brick Lane

  • Physical improvements - YP have renovated old houses/warehouses, old buildings have been restored and brought back into use e.g. Truman brewery now art gallery. 
  • More popular as YP have opened businesses such as wine bars, restaurants, up-market shops and estate agents - economic benefits, new jobs and tax for local council to improve the area. Spitalfields - increase in demand for local businesses e.g. builders
  • Social benefits - new services and facilities for locals shops, cafes, bars  - some feel there is less segregation as different income/cultural groups live side by side
  • Problems in Spitalfields - local Bangladeshi community complain rising property prices are forcing them out of the area - displacement can cause resentment and a culture clash 
  • Unemployed locals complain many new businesses employ people from outside the area and low income locals complain new facilities are too expensive
  • Brick Lane, popular for YP to live, work and socialise - brought new vitality, making it attractive to tourists and students who spend money ans support local businesses 
  • However original residents, paticularly the Bangladeshi community, feel they have missed out on new benefits and opportunities. Spitalfields some have benfited from increasing house prices - given them the opportunity to move to the suburbs, not everyone has has the opportunity
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