Compact city and smart growth: Strategic Policy Options for APEIS RISPO

APEIS/RISPO Strategic Policy Options (SPOs) Database
Discussion Paper

"Compact city" in this policy option refers to land planning focusing on higher density and better accessibility which reduces automobile dependency. "Smart growth" is a general term for land use practices that create more accessible land use patterns which reduce the amount of travel needed to reach goods and services (Litman, 2003a). Experiences of compact city or smart growth include Curitiba (Brazil), Singapore, Hong Kong (PRC), Freiburg (Germany), and Portland (US). Critical instruments for this policy option include coordination with public transport infrastructure development, mixed land use, urban boundary, and coordination of different levels of government. Although there are still objections to the idea of high density land planning, accumulated data from international cities, such as that by Kenworthy and Laube (1999), indicate correlation of urban density with less transport energy use and car use per capita. At the same time, it should be noted that the difference in travel per capita becomes relatively small in cities which have high urban density - more than approximately 75 persons/ha - and most Asian large cities fall in this category. In cities with higher density than this, the more relevant approach is the formation of sub-centres within the city or development of a regional system of cities.

Objectives (what):
- To control urban sprawl and reduce kilometres driven by influencing the spatial structure of locations in the urban environment
- To support a high transit share
- To keep walking and cycling (the most environmentally friendly transport modes) attractive

Applicable geographic area and socio-economic conditions (where):
Geographical conditions:
- Applicable in both existing cities or newly developed urban areas.
- Likely to be more effective to reduce vehicle use in urban areas if density is raised beyond 20 to 30 persons/ha. Beyond 75 persons/ha, the effect begins to saturate (Kenworthy and Laube 1999).
Socio-economic conditions:
- Urgently needed in the areas experiencing strong economic and population growth (Litman, 2003a).
- Strong political will is needed.

- by whom: Local (municipal level or district) government, regional (state, prefecture, or province) government, national government, land planners, transit authorities or companies, citizens
- for whom: Urban community

Time span:
Land planning needs a long-term perspective since it requires a considerable
amount of investment for infrastructure, and has a long-term structural impact to the activities in the city.

Expected impacts:
It is expected that compact city and smart growth land planning will
reduce total transport demand, contribute to reduction in vehicle kilometres travelled and transport energy consumption, and thereby reduce air pollution and CO2 emissions per capita. Also, high density urban planning will improve the efficiency of public transport and reduce the consumption of land by road infrastructure.


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