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Rethinking Urban Sprawl

Moving Towards Sustainable Cities

image of Rethinking Urban Sprawl

This report provides a new perspective to the nature of urban sprawl and its causes and environmental, social and economic consequences. This perspective, which is based on the multi-dimensionality of urban sprawl, sets the foundations for the construction of new indicators to measure the various facets of urban sprawl. The report uses new datasets to compute these indicators for more than 1100 urban areas in 29 OECD countries over the period 1990-2014. It then relies on cross-city, country-level and cross-country analyses of these indicators to provide insights into the current situation and evolution of urban sprawl in OECD cities. In addition, the report offers a critical assessment of the causes and consequences of urban sprawl and discusses policy options to steer urban development to more environmentally sustainable forms.

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Steering urban development to more sustainable pathways

This chapter discusses policies to control urban sprawl and direct urban development to more sustainable pathways. It describes a number of land-use and transport policy instruments that can be used to achieve these objectives and analyses their potential benefits, but also the challenges arising in their implementation. The land-use policy instruments analysed include urban containment policies (e.g. greenbelts, urban growth boundaries), minimum density restrictions, property taxation, development rights and incentives for private provision of public infrastructure. Road pricing, parking policies, motor fuel taxes and investments in sustainable transport infrastructure are the main transport-related policy instruments considered in this chapter. The chapter also highlights the importance of taking into account interactions between different instruments when it comes to the development of urban policy. Finally, it emphasises the need for an integrated approach to make urban development patterns more sustainable.

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