Issues in the Developed World
Edited by H. S. Geyer
Chapter 7: The Continuing Urban Form Controversy: Towards Bridging the Divide
H.S. Geyer Introduction A large body of research has developed over the years arguing for and against urban sprawl (see STPP, 1997; Smart Growth, 2008; Audirac and Zifou, 1989), but differences of opinion about the relationship between urban form and sustainability and whether urban densification or market-driven urban development is the preferred way forward have not diminished. Opposing positions in this debate are as passionately defended now as they were in the mid-1990s when Jenks et al. (1996, p. 11) called it ‘one of the most hotly debated issues on the international environmental agenda’. Questions about the way in which cities should be developed to reduce resource depletion and improve social and economic sustainability are still as central to this debate now as they were a decade ago. In many respects, global climate change has made the issue even more pertinent. Daily one would be bombarded by the media with references about global warming and its possible effects on human life or vice versa. For some time now the compact city idea has been widely propagated as the only responsible urban form in the wake of global climate change while sprawl has been singled out as bad – a major contributor to global warming (Congress of New Urbanism Charter, 2008; Smart Growth, 2008; Tyler, 2005; Darby, 2007; Ellis, 2002; European Commission, 2006; Hickman and Banister, 2007; and many others). This view is advanced by an energetic and vocal group within the international academic fraternity through all possible forums and media outlets...
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