Sunday, February 25, 2007

Urban Land Zone 2: The Inner City

What is the Inner City?
The Inner City is the land-use zone which grew up around the city centre, it is also known as the twilight zone or zone of transition.

When did the Inner City grow up?
Inner city areas grew up in the 19th century as towns grew rapidly due to industrialisation and the demand for workers in the industries that had grown up. Large numbers moved to the city for work and needed low cost housing close to work due to the lack of public or private transport. This led to the growth of factories and low-cost terraced housing around what is now the city centre.

What were the characteristics of the Inner City?
* crowded areas with little open space
* high density housing (overcrowding)
* mainly
terraced (some used to be back to back houses (back wall of one house being the back wall of another)) in long straight rows
* front doors opening straight on to the pavement
* no front or back gardens (just a small back yard)
* few amentities
* factories providing employment for residents

Advantages of living in the Old Inner Cities:
1. Houses were cheap to buy / rent
2. There was a strong community spirit
3. Houses were close to places of work

Problems in the Old Inner Cities
Housing - decayed terraces and in places poorly built tower blocks
2. Poll
ution - air, land and water pollution, graffiti and vandalism and derelict buildings (old factories etc.)
3. Lack of Open Space
4. Social Problems
- high crime rates, above average concentrations of low-income citizens
5. Economic Problems - declining industry, povery and low income and increasing unemployment as factories closed.

The Changing Inner City
By the 1950s/60s, many inner cities were in series decline as the traiditional industries has closed, resulting in high levels of unemployment and a subsequent spiral of decline (see diagram for explanation). Since the 1960s, the Inner City zone has been one of change (hence the terms twilight zone / zone of transition) with a number of schemes (urban renewal, urban regeneration and urban redevelopment) put in place to address the issues of decline and to improve the quality of life in these areas. (see next post for more details)

Follow up Links:
GeoBytes Land-use model: Inner City

Key Term Check:
Inner City - part of an urban area next to the central area / CBD (characterised by housing and industry) - also known as the zone of transition or twilight zone.

Photograph Source: Geography Photos (

Urban Land Use Zones: Managing Problems in and around the CBD

There are a number of problems faced in the Central Business District area:

1. Lack of Space and High costs of Land
Due to the accessibility and prime location of land in the CBD, the resulting high density land use and competition for available buildings means that the costs of land and consquently rents are very high. National chain stores therefore dominate these areas as they are able to outcompete smaller, independent stores which cannot afford to pay such high rents.

2. Urban decline
With the growth of out-of-town shopping centres, some CBD's have seen the outward movement of many of the larger stores to take prime sites in these out-of-town complexes where there is room for expansion. The cheaper land in these suburban locations also enables stores to operate on a larger scale and pass on the benefits of economies of scale to customers (for more on this see this excellent article from Geography in the News). As stores move out, this has led to the decline of some CBD's. Shop units made vacant by large chain stores moving out, may stay empty as smaller / independent stores cannot afford the high land rents, whilst other chain stores are preferring to locate in the out-of-town locations. Empty buildings can attract crime and vandalism and gradually CBD's affected by this start to suffer urban decline.

General Urban Problems

1. Pollution
With the high volumes of traffic and congestion and the high numbers of pedestrians using the central area, problems of noise, visual and atmospheric pollution have become an issue in some CBDs.

2. Traffic Congestion
With the great accesibility of the CBD and the increase in car ownership, urban traffic problems have become a real issue in many cities.

A Case Study of Traffic Management in an Urban Area: Cambridge

As part of the syllabus you are expect to know a case study of manging problems in urban areas. Our case study is Traffic Management in Cambridge.

Before we look at Cambridge specifically, lets consider the general causes and effects of Traffic problems in urban areas.

Why has Traffic in urban areas increased?
* increased car ownership (due to an increase in disposable income)
* reduced use of public transport
* an increase in commuting (for work, shopping, entertainment etc.)

What are the problems that result?
As well as the problems of visual, atmospheric and noise pollution, the environment is also affected as more land is required to build car parks, widen roads and build new roads to cope with the volumes of traffic. Congestion resulting in traffic jams can significantly delay travel times and result in people being late for work as well as valuable time being wasted whilst trying to locate parking spaces etc. An increased risk of accidents, health problems resulting from the increased fumes (particularly irritating respiratory illnesses such as asthma) and increased frustration / discomfort from overcrowding on public transport are some of the social problems experienced.

Traffic Management in Cambridge
So what is the specific problem in Cambridge and what is being done to try and manage the traffic in Cambridge? Although you will need to refer to your class notes for details, see the powerpoint below for a reminder of the key points of this case study.

Other Traffic Management Strategies

The London Congestion Charge has been in place since 2003. Although there the benefits of the scheme have been recognised - there have also been criticisms with reference to the impact of the charge on businesses. With the recent doubling in size of the London Congestion Charge zone there has been much in the news recently on proposals for 'road pricing' nationally.

Follow up links:
Technology and Traffic Management: London Case Study
Technology and Traffic Management: Global Case Studies
Reducing Congestion in Cities (BBC Bitesize)
An interesting article here on the London Congestion Charge and implications for other cities
UK's congestion schemes (BBC)
How would road charging work? (BBC)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Urban Land-use Zones: 1. The CBD

Zone 1 in the land use models is known as the Central Business District (CBD). The CBD is at the heart of a town or city and usually has great accessibility as it is often the place where most road and rail routes meet.

So what are the main characteristics of a CBD? Have a look at the following powerpoint - look at the photographs in the first 4 slides for clues and then continue to see what characteristics they are actually showing.

CBD Characteristics
You will need to be able to describe and where appropriate explain the main characteristics of the CBD. Where possible always try and give examples related to areas you know (e.g. Cambridge and St Ives)

- Old Core - often narrow streets / historical core (e.g. The Backs in Cambridge)
- Very Accessible - due to the convergence of major rail and road routes (often find public transport meets here - e.g. railway stations / bus stations)
- Traffic Restrictions are often in place to deal with the large numbers of traffic and ensure safety for the high numbers of pedestrians.
- Often has a central Market square area (e.g. Cambridge and St Ives)
- Very High Land Values - due to lack of space and competition for land
- Little/ No Residential Land Use - due to high land-values there is usually no residential land-use apart from the possibility of some flats above shops
- Multistorey buildings - due to high land values resulting in building up rather than out!
- Shops Offices and specialist buildings e.g. Banks, buildings societies etc. (need to be accessible and can afford the high land values)
- Mainly National Chain stores (have high threshold population and can afford the high land-values associated with the CBD - e.g. M&S; WHS; Next etc. in Cambridge)
- High numbers of pedestrians
- 2 daily rush hours (am and pm)
- Many now have undercover shopping centres (e.g. Lion Yard - Cambridge)
- Presence of public buildings / government buildings (e.g. Town Hall etc.)
- museums / castles / historical buildings (e.g. Cambridge - museums / University buildings)
- Entertainment - restaurants, clubs etc.

Follow up Links:
Central Business District (Wikipedia Entry)
BBC Bitesize (Central Business District)

Key Term Check:
Threshold Population:
minimum number of people needed to justify the provision of a service or presence of a certain shop
Central Business District

Urban Land Use Models

Land-use models have been put forward on the basis of the idea that towns and cities do not grow in a haphazard fashion, rather they tend to develop distinctive patterns of land-use as they grow and develop. Land-use models are simplified diagrams which are used to represent the pattern of land-use functions within a town or city. It should however be remembered that these are simplifications of reality and it is unlikely that any model will fit every town and city perfectly.

Two of the land-use models we often refer to are the Burgess Concentric Ring Model and the Hoyt sector model

The Burgess Model
This model was based on a study of land-use in Chicago. Burgess suggests that cities grow outwards from the CBD in a series of concentric rings of land-use. The oldest part of the city is at the centre and the newest part on the outer edge. The quality and size of housing increases with distance from the CBD, although the height of buildings tends to be greatest close to the Central Area, where land-values are high and space is at a premium. The quality and size of houses increases with distance from the CBD but the density of housing decreases as more space is available.

The Hoyt Sector Model
Hoyt's model modified that of Burgess following the development of public transport. His model suggests that transport and physical features were important, with industrial areas developing outwards in sectors along main transport routes (roads, rivers and canals) and housing growing up around these.

The Land-use zones identified in the models are:
1. CBD (Central Business District) - located at the centre of the city often at the convergence of rail and road routes. Contains many commerical activities, shops, entertainment and also business activities.
2. Inner City (also known as the Twilight or Transition Zone) - mixed land-use containing small industries as well as high-density residential land-use - often characterised by terraced housing.
3. Inner Suburbs - residential areas which developed during the 1920s/30s - often semi-detached houses in a distinctive 1920s/30s style with bay windows and front / back gardens.
4. Outer Suburbs - residential areas which grew up later as greater public transport and private car ownership allowed people to live further out from their places of work. These houses are often semi-detached / detached with larger gardens and garages.
5. Rural-urban fringe - this is right on the edge of towns and cities and is mainly low density, private housing (often larger detached properties); new industrial estates / business parks and facilities requiring larger open spaces such as golf courses;

It is important that you have a good understanding of the reasons for the growth and development of each of the land-use zones and that you are able to describe their main characteristics. In an exam you may be given maps or photographs and be expected to suggest which land-use zone they represent based on the features that can be seen (i.e. based on style of housing, density etc.).

Land-Use in Cambridge

Cambridge is a good example of a city with distinct urban land-use zones. The city stands on the east bank of the River Cam and developed here as it was an area of flat land and at the lowest bridging point across the river.

The city itself dates back to Roman times and has steadily grown up as an important trading centre and an important University town. In the centre of the city close to the historic core, as well as the old university buildings, which dominate, the land-uses are mainly commercial, and business in the CBD. One of the most important developments in the growth of Cambridge was the coming of the railway which was built in 1845. At this time residential areas began to expand more rapidly, with early Victorian terraced housing (inner city zone) which began to be developed out towards the railway station to the east of the city.

In the 20th century, the population grew even faster and houses were built along the main roads which converged on Cambridge. This is known as ribbon development. The houses were often inter-war semi-detached houses and now began to be built with garages as car ownership began to increase (inner and outer suburbs). This meant that now villages such as Cherry Hinton were being incorporated into Cambridge. This is known as suburbanisation.

Since the 1960's, modern housing estates have also grown up around the city. Some are council built, such as some of the houses at Kings Hedges while others are privately owned. (rural-urban fringe developments)

Follow Up Links:
The Burgess Urban Land-use Model - a detailed overview of the model and some of its criticisms
Urban Land-use patterns in MEDCs
BBC Bitesize - Urban Land-use Models
S-cool - Urban Morphology

Key Term Check:
Burgess Model - concentric ring model based on rings of land-use grown outwards from the CBD (with oldest buildings in the centre of the city, decreasing with age with distance from the CBD whilst wealth of inhabitants increases with distance)
Hoyt Model - sector model - wedges of land-use development determined more by major transport routes.

Settlement - Site and Situation

Site and Situation

When we talk about the site of a settlement, we are refering to the land on which the hamlet, village, town or city is built. A number of site factors would have been important when choosing the inital site of a settlement. These would have included the relief of the land; the availability of natural resources; water supply and the fertility of the surrounding land.

We also talk about the situation of a settlement, this is the location of a place relative to its surroundings (which may include other settlements, landscape features such as rivers, uplands etc.)

The Site and Situation of St Ives (Cambridgeshire)

Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-mapservice. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

The Site of St Ives

St Ives is on a gravel terrace on the North bank of the River Great Ouse and it is located at a bridging point of the River. There is a floodplain to the south (Hemingford Meadows). The town itself is built mainly on flat land and is surrounded by fertile land. There is an area of woodland close to the old part of the town.

The Situation of St Ives
The settlement of St Ives is situated approximately 17miles to the North West of Cambridge and is about 5 miles east of the market town of Huntingdon. St Ives is just North of the A14 on A1096 it is situated north of the River Great Ouse.

You should know the difference between site and situation and you should be able to describe the site and situation of a place such as St Ives. In the skills paper you will also be expected to interpret OS maps of places you haven't studied before and you will need to be able to identify and describe the site and situation of these places. Have a look at this excellent page from BBC bitesize and see if you can identify the features of the site of Southampton from the OS map provided - why was the city located here? Also check out the OS map of Melton - read the example of the description of its situation that is given.

Follow Up Links:
Settlement Site and Situation (BBC Bitesize)
Site and Situation of a Settlement (good example of Edinburgh) (BBC Scotland - Bitesize)
S-Cool - Site and Situation (Physical and Human factors important in settlement location)
Site, Situation and Function (Digital Brain)

Key Terms Check
Site - the land on which a settlement is built
Situation - the location of a place relative to its surroundings.

People & Places to Live: Settlement

Urbanisation - An Introduction....

The increase in the population of towns and cities is known as the process of urbanisation. In MEDC's such as the UK, urbanisation occurred alongside the industrial revolution of the 18th century, with millions of workers being attracted to the new factories and houses built in towns and cities. Urbanisation in LEDC's has however been a far more recent phenomenon, with rapid urbanisation having been experienced since the 1950s. This excellent interactive timescale graphic from the BBC shows the scale of urbanisation across the world since 1955.

It has been projected by the UN that world population will expand from 6.1 billion to 7.8 billion between 2000 and 2025 with 90% of the gowth occuring in urban areas or less developed countries (Population Reference Bureau). In 1800, only 3% of the world's population lived in urban areas, by 2000 this was estimated to be 47% and according to the Population Reference Bureau it is projected to reach 58% by 2025!

In this unit of the course, we will explore the growth of settlements in both MEDCs and LEDCs, looking at the reasons for, and changes in their growth and development as well as the resulting problems. We will also consider the patterns of land-use that have developed and some of the issues faced in managing these urban areas.

Follow Up Links:
Urbanisation in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries - an excellent site - well worth having a look!
BBC InDepth - Urban Planet (some fascinating articles here!)
An overview of Urbanisation (Internet Geography)
An Urbanising World (Population Reference Bureau)
In Pictures: the shrinking space in our crowded cities (BBC)
Urbanisation - Wikipedia Article
Are cities growing too fast?

Key Terms Check:
Settlement - a place where people live
Urbanisation - an increase in the numbers living in urban areas (towns and cities)

Photo Source: Val Vannet on Geography Photos

Young Geographer of the Year 2007

The new competition for Young Geography of the Year 2007 has just been launched by the Geographical Magazine.

This year's question is "Can Recycling Save the World?" and must be the title of any work that is submitted for the competition. There are 3 different categories for the competition:

* Junior (12 and under on 31st August 2007) - design a magazine front cover (A3 size)

* Young (13-15 on 31st August 2007) - write a magazine article (word limit: 800 words)

* Senior (16-18 on 31st August 2007) - write a magazine article (word limit: 1600 words)

There are some amazing prizes on offer for the winner of each category. Have a look at the following:
- Winner of the Junior Category - a Raleigh Max bike.
- Winner of the Young Category - a fortnight placement with a guardian to work on a conservation project with desert elephants in Namibia.
- Winner of the Senior Category - A month long Amazon expedition in Peru(23rd July - 24th August 2007 - prize is not exchangable - see site for more details) "Research projects on this expedition will include surveys of both the pink and grey river dolphins, building hatching sites for turtles and surveying populations of animals such as the red howler monkey" (

For full details of the competition and the prizes on offer please see the competition pages of the online Geographical Magazine. Terms and conditions of entry can be found here.

If you are interested in entering the competiton, please see me with your ideas. If you decide to enter, once you have completed your entry you will need to see me for an entry cover sheet.

Why not post some of your thoughts on the question "Can recycling save the world?" by adding a comment to this post. . .

Here are a few links which may help you with your research - there are lots of others out there...