Suburbanisation is the growth of the suburbs and suburban areas on the fringes of cities due to natural increase or the movement of people. It is one of the many causes of the increase in urban sprawl. Suburbanisation occurs in many countries, all at different stages of development. Each case of suburbanisation can have different causes, such as urban push factors, and suburban pull factors. A push factor is something that would make someone want to leave an area, whereas a pull factor is something that is appealing about another area so would make them want to move there. An example of an urban push factor is the congestion and population density of city centres.
There are many causes and impacts of suburbanisation on many areas surrounding and in a city. Suburbs are outlying residential districts of towns or cities, as shown in the Burgess Model below. The suburbs are the outmost ring on the model, and are usually home to the more affluent, upper class families.
Businesses move to the edges of cities also because of several push and pull factors. The push factors include; old, cramped factories in the inner city; congestion on the roads and narrow streets which makes it hard for lorries to deliver goods; high rents for land and services, and a shortage of skilled workers. The pull factors include; cheaper and more plentiful land for future expansion; brand new buildings with better car parking and more advanced technology; skilled workers; and access to new roads, airports and rail networks.
As well as the above push and pull factors, further
Suburbanisation can be caused by decentralisation and deindustrialisation, which are effects of suburbanisation. Decentralisation is the shift of jobs into the service sector, from the Central Business District (CBD) to the suburbs. This occurs due to business trying to make use of the cheaper land prices away from the city centre. Deindustrialisation is the loss of manufacturing jobs in the inner city, and these employees often lack the skills required for jobs in the service sector. An example would be Los Angeles, or London. Advances in technology have allowed people to live on the outskirts of these cities, and even in small market towns such as St Ives, in Cambridgeshire. St Ives is located along a bus route that leads straight to London, meaning it is easier for commuters that live there yet travel to work in London. The advances in technology include the internet which has allowed people to have more freedom over their location as it is easier to work at home.
Suburbanisation occurs in many countries, all at different stages of development. In MEDCs such as the UK, the effects of suburbanisation are felt in all areas of a city, such as the inner city, and even surrounding countrysides. Changes to the countryside of an MEDC such as London, England, include an ageing population, through many elderly people retiring to the suburbs for the open spaces and larger amount green areas. Another change to this countryside would be the closure of many services such as a village school, shops and bus services, as they are less likely to be used by newcomers. Demographic changes in MEDCs associated with suburbanisation include an ageing population, rural depopulation and the use of second homes. However, economic changes include the decline of traditional farming and an increase in hobby farming and more non-agricultural land use for the primary sector.
Another general result of suburbanisation in MEDCs is an extreme polarisation between people with regards to affluence, class, ethnicity, employment group and other social groups. After suburbanisation, the inner city would be mostly home to less affluent people, however some wealthy people may live in expensive apartments and penthouses in the CBD, like in London. The effects of suburbanisation are similar in LEDCs such as Brazil, but can be felt differently. One huge effect in Sao Paulo is the housing situation, which I will come on to further on. Roughly 75% of all people in MEDCs live in urban environments. In the UK, from 1950-1980, 30% of city based citizens moved to the urban fringe. This was due to their perception of a better lifestyle in the suburbs; which they believed was ‘clean and green’ with a better sense of community.
Many of these migrants were young, self employed entrepreneurs. Consequences of suburbanisation in MEDCs were decentralisation of towns and cities, with many estates becoming private; however there would still be council estates to re-house those from the inner city. This then led to a state of social segregation. An example of a suburbanise village in the UK would be St Ives, or East Keswick. As previously mentioned, London and LA are both great examples along with Birmingham of suburbanisation in more economically developed countries. This is a model of a typical suburbanised village.
Birmingham’s first suburbs began to develop with large, detached and semi detached housing in the Edgbaston area in the early 19th century. Soon after these suburbs began to emerge, high density housing developments were built around the edges of the city. People became more aware of the link between standards of living and health, causing more low density housing schemes to come in around Birmingham. One of the most famous suburbs for this would Bournville on the southern edge of Birmingham. The settlement had roads lined with trees, picturesque housing with large gardens, mostly for workers of Cadbury’s. The small suburb soon began to expand, as a result of setting up the Bourneville village trust in 1900. Over the 20 years following, housing densities in the suburbs began to increase slightly.
During the time between WWI and WWII, large estates made up of terraced and semi detached housing were built by the local authorities to house the ‘working class workers’ of that time. Although more and more housing was being built, little concern was shown to services in the area, with no corner shops which characterised the suburban life being added. The outward spread of the suburbs was limited by the Restriction of Ribbon Development Act (1935) and by the Green Belt Policy. Suburbanisation in the UK has been severely limited by the Green Belt Policy since then, whereas this policy does not exist in other MEDCS. The restriction of outward growth has since caused a rise in the housing densities of Birmingham’s suburbs. This shows the declining size of houses and the rise in affluence among the younger members of the population. In the Birmingham area and its suburbs, infilling has been one way that the housing density has increased. However the style of housing used in the infilling process has majorly contrasted with the current houses in the area, leaving the area full of diverse estates.
Also, improvements of houses like extensions of properties and car bays on semi detached houses have caused the density to rise. As a city, Birmingham is a great example of showing fluctuations in its outward expansion and suburbanisation. In southwest Birmingham, there are clear fringe belts which are areas that have low density housing characterised by parks, golf courses and institutional buildings. These belts developed when land prices fell, allowing extensive land uses like the parks and golf courses to be cheaply developed. Los Angeles is the most populous city in the state of California, and the second most in the entire United States, after New York. Home to film stars, Hollywood, and stereotypically sun; LA is seen as the American dream for many, yet for others it’s not all glitz and glamour.
There are several reasons for the growth of Los Angeles; including changes in transport, increasing employment opportunities, the cliché image of LA, and an increase in levels of affluence. The arrival of the transcontinental railway in 1876 caused half a million people to arrive in the city within 40 years. In 2010, the city’s airport was the 6th busiest in the whole world. Reasons for the increase in job opportunities was due to the discovery of oil in the 20th century, the opening of a Ford car plant then later aircraft industry, all meaning there was a continued growth of suburbanisation. Development of Hollywood as the film capital of the world in the 1920s and the 1930s created a glamorous image for the city. In the 60s, growing affluence brought many tourists to film parks like Disneyland and Universal Studios; which again increased employment opportunities.
The increase in disposable income and greater affluence gave people more choice where to live. In the 60s and 70s, many moved to the Sun Belt of California, to get away from the cold winters of the east coast cities like New York. Los Angeles is a city with a huge land mass, with few planning restrictions, high average incomes and high personal mobility. Also, cheap fuel and huge investment in transport networks have culminated in the growth of the city. As well as the above, other reasons for suburbanisation in LA are the general push and pull factors, like poor schools, fear for safety, and large shopping centres and accessibility respectively. Suburbanisation doesn’t always bring benefits, as was shown in LA. One problem of the suburbanisation here was that although it was easy to commute to work, the time spent travelling to and from work meant there was little or perhaps no time left for family and friends.
Also, some communities began to only exist at night times- dormitory settlements. Although a push factor of this suburbanisation was to escape the pollution of the inner city, the highways soon became congested, causing air and noise pollution. One final problem associated with Las suburbanisation, was that the movement of people and businesses into newer and larger buildings in the suburbs, caused a loss of some of the best farmland in that area. LA has been described as a ‘donut city’. This is a city with a hole in the central area.
The donut in LA is due to the long established car, tyre, steel and aircraft factories closing due to competition from overseas, mechanisation and new technology- which were all located in the inner suburbs. Also, businesses followed the people out from central LA for more space, cheaper land and lowered local taxes. The modern, high-tech companies such as aerospace and light manufacturing industries all needed large spaces with car parks for employees so added to the donut structure.
There has been a rapid growth in the urban population of Sao Paulo, Brazil, since 19870. It is a vast urban agglomeration covering over 1000km² and is growing at rate of over 60km² per year. The population of the city exceeds 18 million. However, staggering figure of over 3 million of these are squatters living in the shanty towns and favelas on the outskirts of the city on the steep valley slopes. In the 1970s, all favelas in the inner city were cleared to build expensive high rise apartments and urban parks. Near these areas, some low cost government funded housing was built to try and combat the growth of the favelas around the same time. The issue of housing in Sao Paulo and providing enough for the growing suburban population has resulted in the formation of shanty towns. All of these favelas lack in basic amenities and services that we take for granted as an MEDC.
The diagram below shows the urban morphology and characteristics of Sao Paulo Characteristics of Sao Paulo Rivers dammed to produce hep. The availability of cheaper hep was one of the reasons for the cities ‘rise to prominence’. The 2 main rivers in Sao Paulo have been rendered lifeless by industrial and urban pollutants Most recently, expensive estates for the rich have developed on the periphery of the city, along main route ways Generally, as the distance from the CBD increases, the socio economic status of the population usually declines, with most of the shanty towns located on the periphery.
Favelas located on steep slopes of river valleys and on land adjacent to industrial plants. Prone to mudflows and landslides
..Or as an urban land use model
There are a variety of causes and impacts of suburbanisation on towns and cities in a variety on countries across the world. In conclusion, I have found that the effects and impacts- especially the negative ones- of suburbanisation are usually felt more in LEDCs such as Sao Paulo, Brazil. One general impact is on the economy. Changes in infrastructure and industry and also, socially, diversity of cities have been easily apparent. These impacts have many benefits as well as side effects and are becoming increasingly important in the planning and revitalization of modern cities.
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