Is Urban Sprawl Organic?

When factoring in industry – it can be

Sprawl, is it organic or forced by planning decisions?

Is sprawl organic, that was the question asked last week by Planners in Canada. The answer to the question in reality is not that simple. Due to politics and Boomers. In theory though, the answer should be that simple. So I am going to look at the simple answer because Planning should be like City Skylines – SIMPLE!

Using just the Unitary Plan Base Zones (including the future Urban Zone), and removing all other bollocks such as minimum parking requirements, setbacks and density (so adopting the Japanese Planning Model), the price mechanisms for development would even out thus Urban Development would take on a more organic form. Organic as in Residential Development would most likely be Brownfield close to Transit and Amenities while Industrial Development would be located on the fringe (Greenfield).

It is because of Industry that a city will always have Urban Sprawl occur. This is because Industry requires a large amount of cheap blank land that will not be interfered with by Residential and Commercial Developments, at least for the medium term. And because Industry needs supporting Residential Development, that Residential Development will often be Greenfield to save commuting time.

In conclusion, even if we removed all Planning Restrictions that allow the pricing mechanisms to even out, Urban Sprawl would still occur. This is because Industry will often locate or re-locate to the Urban Fringe away from Residential and Commercial Zones while still needing some new Residential near by to support it (yes, a paradox, I know). With this in mind we need to plan for even organic urban sprawl appropriately unless you want your city to have no industry in it and thus die.

Weymouth Line, Wiri and Manukau. The Purples and Cyan mark the Wiri Industrial Complex