Monday, February 12, 2007

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.

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