Title: Are European Cities Becoming Dispersed? A Comparative Analysis of 15 European Urban Areas
Citation: LANDSCAPE AND URBAN PLANNING vol. 77 p. 111- 130
Publication Year: 2006
JRC N°: JRC33924
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC33924
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: In this paper we analyse the relationship between urban land use development and population density in 15 European urban areas. Five indicator sets are used to shed light on built-up areas, residential land use, land taken by urban expansion, population density and urban density. The built-up areas have grown considerably in all studied cities. The most rapid growth dates back to 1950s and 1960s. The annual growth pace has slowed down in the 1990s to 0.75%. In half of the studied cities over 90% of all new housing areas built after the mid-1950s are discontinuous urban developments. When putting these findings into the context of stable or decreasing urban population, it is clear that the structure of European cities has become less compact. In most cases it is mere a question of taste whether to call it urban sprawl or urban dispersion. Although most studied urban areas have experienced dispersed growth, as a result of the analysis we divide the cities in three groups: compact southern cities, northern and eastern cities with looser structures and lower densities mainly located in northern and eastern parts of Europe, and central and western cities in the midway between the extremes. However it has to be borne in mind that groupings are always to some extent artificial, forcing strict boundaries on phenomena which are continuous by nature. Keywords: Urban development; Urban population; Urban sprawl; Indicators; Europe
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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