The CBD's of cities throughout the world experience many problems, some of which are outlined below:
Congestion: Many British cities still have street plans that were laid down hundreds of years ago. The roads cannot cope with the ever-increasing numbers of cars and other vehicles. This can cause massive congestion problems, especially at "rush hour".
Solutions to the problems have included improving public transport (e.g. the trams of Manchester); introducing park and ride schemes (e.g. Oxford); pedestrianization (e.g. Exeter & Oxford); encouraging people to share cars into work and building ring roads (e.g. Watford).
In Athens (Greece) they have tried an extreme form of control by only allowing cars with odd numbers on their number plates into the city on one day, and then cars with even numbers the next day. Unfortunately this has led many people to own two cars, one with an odd number and one with an even one!
Lack of Space: CBD's are limited in their outwards growth by the fact that the city encompasses them, and due to the fact that businesses want to locate as close to the centre as they possibly can. This has led to land prices rising to astronomical amounts. The only solution seen by most businesses is to build upwards, which is why CBD's can be characterised by the presence of skyscrapers.
Pollution: The major pollution seen in urban areas is air pollution, or smog. This pollution is mainly caused by the fumes given off by traffic and industry.
The most famous example of where this pollution haze can be seen is over Los Angeles, but most of the large cities of the world experience it too. Poor air quality can lead to an increase in the cases of asthma and bronchitis.
Air is not the only thing polluted in cities. Water can be badly polluted, and so has to be carefully treated before being drunk. It's a horrible thought, but most of the water that you drink in London has already been drunk by 7 other people!
Solutions to pollution problems include: banning heavy vehicles from CBD's; developing cleaner fuels, and providing more litter bins in CBD's.
Some cities have encouraged the growth of out-of-town shopping centres to help traffic, land price and pollution problems, by taking some of the focus away from the CBD. However this can also have the negative effect of causing the CBD to decline.
As explained earlier the Inner City is also known as the zoneof transition.
Most inner cities of large urban areas once had industry located there, however this has almost totally moved out. The Victorian terraces built to house thefactory workers remain in many inner cities, however in some they have been replaced by huge tower blocks.
Although seemingly the solution to the problems produced by the terraces, the tower blocks also caused a wide range of social problems. Recently inner city planning has centred around rejuvenating the area in alternative ways, to try to encourage the growth of these declining areas.
The two examples below give an idea of some of the schemes that have been attempted in British inner city areas.
Birmingham is a very good example of where, in the 1960's, the local authority tried to rejuvenate the inner city areas by knocking down vast areas of Victorian terraces, replacing them with large tower blocks.
The terraces were seen to be old-fashioned, with poor living standards. Often they lacked things that we would take for granted, like central heating, and had inadequate kitchen and bathroom facilities. The local authority decided that the way to combat the problems would be to knock down all the old terraces and completely start again. Many other cities around Britain did the same thing.
The buildings were poorly built and soon began to need costly repairs. They had poor facilities and few green areas.
There was no sense of community for the people who lived there, leading to increased crime, vandalism and graffiti. All these things combined to make the area a dangerous one. Many areas of tower blocks were centres for drug traders and other criminal gangs.
The standard of living was poor, with illness and overcrowding a regular occurrence.
Most people would not choose to live in this type of housing, so it was inhabited by the poorly paid, unemployed or new arrived immigrants. This led to socialt ensions and in the early 1980's inner city areas in Liverpool, Bristol and London all experienced serious rioting.
Example: The London Docklands
After the riots of the early 1980's a report by Lord Scarman proposed a new way of dealing with inner city troubles. It suggested that these areas should be subject to urban renewal (improving existing buildings) rather than redeveloping areas by knocking them down and starting again.
The London Docklands is the best known example of an inner city area that has been completely transformed in this way. The London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) was set up to renew the area.
Some of the things that have happened there in the past 20 years include: .
- The gentrification of old buildings. This basically means keeping the outside of old warehouses and gutting the insides. Often these are then refurbished to become very expensive riverside flats.
- The Docklands Light Railway and Jubilee Line extension have increased access to the docklands area, whilst the City Airport has allowed quick transfers to places throughout Europe.
- Low tax rates and rents have been used to attract large businesses to relocate to the area. Examples include the Daily Telegraph and many financial institutions. Canary Wharf Tower has been the centre point of this business influx.
- Housing has also been built, not just for the rich, young workers in the city, but also for the under-privileged groups who were living in the docklands area previously. Low cost housing has been built, and schemes set up to help people buy them.
- Community centres and services have been introduced to previously declining areas in an attempt to engender more community spirit. Leisure centres and shopping malls have all added to the community feel.
- Not all the residents are happy though, as many of the new jobs are too highly skilled for the original residents of the docklands, and they resent the new people coming into their area.
Shanty Towns are the illegal squatter settlements that characterise most of the large cities in the developing world.
They have occurred because of the huge numbers of people migrating from the rural areas to the cities, which just cannot cope with this massive influx of people. The main points to note about them are:
- The cities most likely to have shanty towns are centres for commercial and industrial activity as well as being transport centres. They are very attractive to in-migrants.
- Most of the new in-migrants have very few skills, education or money, so they will often find whatever work they can.
- Shanty towns develop on marginal land, often close to where the in-migrants hope to get work. The high cost of land near the CBD means that shanty towns are either built on the periphery of the city or in hazardous areas closer to the city centre.
In many world cities, plans are now in place to help formalise the slum housing,using schemes to improve amenities and living conditions. Examples of these self-help schemes can be seen in Sao Paulo (Brazil) and New Delhi(India).
There are a number of problems that are often associated with shanty towns:
- They are politically embarrassing to the Government, which is why many of them are now trying to help the people improve the shanty areas. The Governments feel that they may well discourage tourists from coming to the city.
- The houses are built of whatever the people can find, and are often major fire hazards.
- Their existence will reduce the prices of property in adjacent areas.
- They are home to many diseases and can easily be affected by environmental disasters such as landslides and flooding.
Shanty Towns are called different things depending upon where you area in the world:
In Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo (Brazil) they are called Favela's
In New Delhi (India) they are called Jhuggies.
In Calcutta (India) they are called Bustee's
In Lima (Peru) they are called Pueblos Jovenes
Example: New Delhi, India:
The Jhuggies of New Delhi occupy marginal land, usually beside transport routes or in hazardous areas.
They are built from recycled materials and the 400,000 shanty homes house over 2.4 million people. They have a very high population density and very poor facilities, such as toilets, which leads to increased occurrences of diseases such as cholera and dysentry.
By all building together (illegally) the residents hope that the area will become officially recognised and therefore will qualify for government funded public services, such as sewerage and electricity.
Many governments have bulldozed shanty towns to try to relocate the people, but this tactic hardly ever works. In Delhi they realised that the shanty towns should become the starting point for urban redevelopment and planning.
The government introduced schemes where the local community was closely involved in the planning and building of new houses. Often the government provided the materials, whilst the local people built the buildings. The government would then provide an improved infrastructure. This has occurred in many cities throughout the developing world.
The Delhi Authorities have also built completely new communities away from the old shanty towns, complete with good transport links to the CBD, where many people work, and the prospects of many jobs in the new area.
One such area is called Rohini. It was built in the 1980's to house 850,000 people and provide 300,000 jobs. Similar schemes are planned for elsewhere in the city.