Urban sprawl

suburban sprawlsprawlurban growthsprawlingurban expansionsuburbanizationdevelopmentsuburban developmentsuburban growthsprawled
Urban sprawl or suburban sprawl mainly refers to the unrestricted growth in many urban areas of housing, commercial development, and roads over large expanses of land, with little concern for urban planning.wikipedia
1,154 Related Articles


peri-urbanperiurbane communityperiurban
In Continental Europe, the term peri-urbanisation is often used to denote similar dynamics and phenomena, although the term urban sprawl is currently being used by the European Environment Agency.
Peri-urbanisation relates to those processes of dispersive urban growth that create hybrid landscapes of fragmented urban and rural characteristics.


Detroit, MichiganDetroit, MICity of Detroit
Nonetheless, some urban areas like Detroit have expanded geographically even while losing population.
The metro Detroit area developed as one of the most sprawling job markets in the United States by the 21st century, and combined with poor public transport, resulted in many jobs beyond the reach of urban low-income workers.


In addition to describing a particular form of urbanization, the term also relates to the social and environmental consequences associated with this development.
Spatially, cities also expanded due to the development of public transport systems, which facilitated commutes of longer distances to the city centre for the working class.

New Urbanism

New UrbanistCongress for the New UrbanismCongress for New Urbanism
New Urbanist architectural firm Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company claim that housing subdivisions "are sometimes called villages, towns, and neighbourhoods by their developers, which is misleading since those terms denote places that are not exclusively residential."
They also hope that this set up will increase the supply of affordable housing and rein in suburban sprawl.

Habitat destruction

habitat losshabitat degradationloss of habitat
One of the major environmental problems associated with sprawl is land loss, habitat loss and subsequent reduction in biodiversity.
Other important causes of habitat destruction include mining, logging, trawling, and urban sprawl.

Smart growth

urban intensificationanti-urban sprawlas
The American Institute of Architects and the American Planning Association recommend against sprawl and instead endorses smart, mixed-use development, including buildings in close proximity to one another that cut down on automobile use, save energy, and promote walkable, healthy, well-designed neighborhoods.
Smart growth is an urban planning and transportation theory that concentrates growth in compact walkable urban centers to avoid sprawl.

Automobile dependency

car dependencycar dependenceautomobile dependence
Job sprawl is another land use symptom of urban sprawl and car-dependent communities.
Whether smart growth does or can reduce problems of automobile dependency associated with urban sprawl has been fiercely contested for several decades.


SwissSwiss ConfederationSWI
According to data in "Cities and Automobile Dependence" by Kenworthy and Laube (1999), urbanized area population losses occurred while there was an expansion of sprawl between 1970 and 1990 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Brussels, Belgium; Copenhagen, Denmark; Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich, Germany; and Zurich, Switzerland, albeit without the dismantling of infrastructure that occurred in the United States.
This urban sprawl does not only affect the plateau but also the Jura and the Alpine foothills and there are growing concerns about land use.

Land use

land-useuseuse of land
The degree to which different land uses are mixed together is often used as an indicator of sprawl in studies of the subject.
More recent significant effects of land use include urban sprawl, soil erosion, soil degradation, salinization, and desertification.

Urban growth boundary

urban growth boundariesurban growth areaGreen Line
The first urban growth boundary in the U.S. was in Fayette County, Kentucky in 1958.
An urban growth boundary, or UGB, is a regional boundary, set in an attempt to control urban sprawl by, in its simplest form, mandating that the area inside the boundary be used for urban development and the area outside be preserved in its natural state or used for agriculture.

Campaign to Protect Rural England

CPRECouncil for the Protection of Rural EnglandCouncil for the Preservation of Rural England
Starting in the early 20th century, environmentalist opposition to urban sprawl began to coalesce, with roots in the garden city movement, as well as pressure from campaign groups such as the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).
Formed in 1926 by Sir Patrick Abercrombie to limit urban sprawl and ribbon development, the CPRE (until the 1960s the Council for the Preservation of Rural England and from then until 2003 the Council for the Protection of Rural England) claims to be one of the longest running environmental groups.

Greenbelt Alliance

The Sierra Club, the San Francisco Bay Area's Greenbelt Alliance, 1000 Friends of Oregon and counterpart organizations nationwide, and other environmental organizations oppose sprawl and support investment in existing communities.
Greenbelt Alliance publishes reports on land-use policy, affordable housing, smart growth, sprawl development, open space protection, and farming.

Urban area

Urbanurban agglomerationagglomeration
Nonetheless, some urban areas like Detroit have expanded geographically even while losing population. Urban sprawl or suburban sprawl mainly refers to the unrestricted growth in many urban areas of housing, commercial development, and roads over large expanses of land, with little concern for urban planning.
Urban areas are measured for various purposes, including analyzing population density and urban sprawl.

Impervious surface

impervious surfacesimperviousimperviousness
As forest cover is cleared and covered with impervious surfaces (concrete and asphalt) in the suburbs, rainfall is less effectively absorbed into the groundwater aquifers.
(See urban sprawl.) Alternatively, urban structures can be built differently to make them function more like naturally pervious soils; examples of such alternative structures are porous pavements, green roofs and infiltration basins.

Compact city

Compact Cities
It is also arguably a more sustainable urban settlement type than urban sprawl because it is less dependent on the car, requiring less (and cheaper per capita) infrastructure provision (Williams 2000, cited in Dempsey 2010).

Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CaliforniaLos Angeles, CALos Angeles, United States
While cities such as Los Angeles are well known for sprawling suburbs, policies and public opinion are changing.
Following the end of World War II, Los Angeles grew more rapidly than ever, sprawling into the San Fernando Valley.

Public transport

public transportationpublic transitmass transit
While countries in the Old World tend to have extensive and frequent systems serving their old and dense cities, many cities of the New World have more sprawl and much less comprehensive public transport.

Social capital

Urban sprawl may be partly responsible for the decline in social capital in the United States.
Putnam also says that television and urban sprawl have had a significant role in making America far less 'connected'.

Effects of the car on societies

car cultureEffects of the automobile on societiesautomobile age began
The modern negative consequences of heavy automotive use include the use of non-renewable fuels, a dramatic increase in the rate of accidental death, the disconnection of local community, the decrease of local economy, the rise in obesity and cardiovascular diseases, the emission of air and noise pollution, the emission of greenhouse gases, generation of urban sprawl and traffic, segregation of pedestrians and other active mobility means of transport, decrease in the railway network, urban decay and the high cost per unit-distance on which the car paradigm is based.

Rural–urban fringe

outskirtsrural-urban fringeurban fringe
Its definition shifts depending on the global location, but typically in Europe, where urban areas are intensively managed to prevent urban sprawl and protect agricultural land, the urban fringe will be characterised by certain land uses which have either purposely moved away from the urban area, or require much larger tracts of land.


Both occur when the suburban gentry tire of the automobile-dependent urban sprawl style of life.

Induced demand

Disappearing trafficinduced trafficdemand induced
This phenomenon, called induced traffic, is a contributing factor to urban sprawl.

Subdivision (land)

Housing subdivisions are large tracts of land consisting entirely of newly built residences.

Green belt

greenbeltgreen spacegreen wedge
Such developments are typically separated by large green belts, i.e. tracts of undeveloped land, resulting in an average density far lower even than the low density indicated by localized per-acre measurements.

Commuter town

bedroom communitydormitory townbedroom communities
Where urban sprawl and conurbation have erased clear lines among towns and cities in large metropolitan areas, this is not the case.