Urbanisation is the process of urban growth that leads to a greater percentage of the population living in towns and cities. It is the movement of people from rural areas (countryside) to urban areas (towns and cities).


  • Improved economy - farms surrounding cities can increase production to provide food for sale in cities
  • Better services - people have better access to services although in LEDCs people may not be able to afford them
  • Improved income - there are more jobs available and jobs in towns and cities tend to pay more


  • Poor housing - problems in housing provision in LEDCs leads to shanty housing being built
  • Unemployment- Lack of jobs in LEDCs leads to work in the informal sector
  • Increased traffic congestion and air, water and land pollution (LEDCs and MEDCs)
  • Problems in rural areas- The rural areas in LEDCs may have insufficient able-bodied workers to farm the land, therefore the agricultural production can be reduced.

Reasons for Urban Sprawl

Urban sprawl is the expansion of an urban area into the countryside.

Urban sprawl occurs because more people want to live in an urban area and there is a lack of space for new housing, the expansion of industry, transport links, open space, etc. so the urban area builds outwards on to greenfield sites.

Such urban growth has engulfed nearby villages, farmland and woodland. At first the growth was not well planned, but urban planners have been trying to control the growth of urban areas by creating green belts and using more brownfield sites.


  • Advantages to companies who have the opportunity to locate their companies in edge-of-town shopping centres
  • Cheaper land than in urban locations provides better access to motorways and airports


  • Loss of agricultural land and public open space
  • Loss of trade in traditional city centres
  • Increasing pollution and traffic congestion in rural-urban fringe

Conservation and Green Belts

  • Green belts were the first attempt to stop urban sprawl.
  • Green belt areas are areas of green and open land on the edge of cities in which urban development is restricted.
  • There is now increasing pressure to build on greenfield sites within this protected land e.g around London

Brownfield Sites

  • Brownfield sites are urban sites which have been previously used for other things.
  • For example, old factories which have become disused can be converted into apartments.
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