Characteristics, Causes, and Effects of Sprawl: A Literature Review

Characteristics, Causes, and Effects of Sprawl: A Literature Review

This article is a literature review of the definition and effects of urban sprawl for the purpose of implementing planning policies that discourage sprawl.

Key findings

“Sprawl is defined in terms of “undesirable” land-use patterns—whether scattered development, leapfrog development (a type of scattered development that assumes a monocentric city), strip or ribbon development, or continuous low-density development.”

“It is the impacts of development that render development patterns desirable or undesirable, not the patterns themselves.”

“Sprawl might be characterized generically as any development pattern with poor accessibility among related land uses. Poor accessibility may result from a failure to concentrate development and/or to mix land uses.”

“Some of the hallmarks of sprawl are apparently to the public’s liking. By a margin of 66 to 34 percent, people favor ‘homogeneous neighborhoods’ over ‘mixed neighborhoods where different types and sizes of houses are in the same general area and where small stores and other commercial activities are nearby.’”

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