Changes in urban forms and development patterns are crucial to understanding the role of cities as engines of growth. Urban sprawl is usually defined as the spreading of a city and its suburbs over rural land at the fringe of an urban area. Urban planners emphasize the qualitative aspects of sprawl such as the lack of transportation options and pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods. Conservationists tend to focus on the actual amount of land that has been urbanized by sprawl.
Although urban sprawl has been extensively studied in the United States (see, for example, Brueckner 2000, 2001; Glaeser and Kahn 2001, 2004; Nechyba and Walsh 2004), very few empirical studies have been undertaken in Europe. Basic reasons for this lack of research are the conceptual divergences in the U.S. and European geographical definitions of cities and the limitations in the availability of actual data for Europe.
Urban sprawl is one of the most important types of land use changes currently affecting Europe. It increasingly creates major impacts on the environment (via surface sealing, emissions by transport, and ecosystem fragmentation), on the social structure of an area (by segregation, lifestyle changes, and neglect of urban centers), and on the economy (via distributed production, land prices, and issues of scale). It is therefore crucial to understand it better.
2009. 125-149 p.