The end of urban sprawl ?


urban-sprawlUrban sprawl poses many problems in terms of infrastructures to maintain, increased energy consumption and last but not least important health and environmental issues.

With the economic downturn and high energy prices, people are sometimes returning to the urban cores. This leaves empty houses and even districts. In some cases these suburbs are litterally bulldozed and returned to Nature.

I personally wonder if this trend is likely to continue and even increase – oil prices will sooner or later go back up $100 – or if this is but a fade.

The UK newspaper The Telegraph even titled ” US cities may have to be bulldozed in order to survive “. Here is an extract of the full article :

The government looking at expanding a pioneering scheme in Flint, one of the poorest US cities, which involves razing entire districts and returning the land to nature. Local politicians believe the city must contract by as much as 40 per cent, concentrating the dwindling population and local services into a more viable area.

The radical experiment is the brainchild of Dan Kildee, treasurer of Genesee County, which includes Flint.

Having outlined his strategy to Barack Obama during the election campaign, Mr Kildee has now been approached by the US government and a group of charities who want him to apply what he has learnt to the rest of the country.

Mr Kildee said he will concentrate on 50 cities, identified in a recent study by the Brookings Institution, an influential Washington think-tank, as potentially needing to shrink substantially to cope with their declining fortunes.

Most are former industrial cities in the “rust belt” of America’s Mid-West and North East. They include Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Memphis.

In Detroit, shattered by the woes of the US car industry, there are already plans to split it into a collection of small urban centres separated from each other by countryside.

An alternative to urban sprawl may be agriburbia. Please check out this article from TreeHugger for more.

For more on urban sprawl, please check out the following links :

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