Evolution and Development of Urban Land Use Planning: Analysis from Human Action Theory Perspective

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Cities are the future of the twenty-first century (Brown, 2012). Their contribution in socio-economic development is widely acknowledged (Cohen, 2006; UN-Habitat, 2009). Cities and urban areas generate more than 80% of the global Gross Domestic Product (McKinsey Global Institute, 2012). Statistics also show that cities in Europe account for 80% of energy use and 85% of the continent's Gross Domestic Product (Barroso, 2012). Indeed, the city hypothesis premised on urban economics theory, which has a long historical antecedent postulates that cities propel economic growth and development through multiplier agglomeration of people and economic activities (Marshall, 1890; Park et al., 1925; Hirsch, 1973).

Consistent, however, with the city hypothesis there are also many problems of urban growth (Baffour Awuah et al., 2014). Cities in the world are currently confronted with sustainable development challenges and other urban problems. The litany of challenges and problems include: rapid urbanisation; climate change; environmental pollution and degradation; resource depletion; unsustainable nature of urban form; social injustice; spatial segregation; inequitable distribution of resources and services; unemployment; poverty; traffic congestion; and urban sprawl and fragmentation (Roy, 2009; Abukhater, 2009; Bart, 2010; Brown, 2012). Estimates suggest that more than 50% of the world population at present live in cities. This is expected to increase to about 70% by 2050. Meanwhile, over 1 billion of the world's population live in urban slums with no water or sanitation. This population is equally anticipated to increase to 2 billion by 2030 (Brown, 2012). In the USA, 10 massive climate change impact with an estimated cost of over 1 billion dollars apart from deaths was reported in 2011 (Mathews, 2012). This is beside recent environmental challenges in other parts of the world, such as the recent Japanese tsunami and the earthquake in Haiti, which demonstrate the severe effect--flooding, storms and earthquakes that natural hazard can have on cities and urban areas.

Against the foregoing backdrop, concern for sustainable development and management of urban areas is rife in both global north and south (Cohen, 2006; UN-Habitat, 2009). This idea of sustainability emerged from the publication by the World Commission on Environment and Development titled: Our Common Future in 1987 (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987). The World Commission on Environment and Development (1987 p8) explains sustainable development to mean development that meets the needs of present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to attain their needs. Although the concept has been applied and interpreted severally (Williams and Millington, 2004; Redclift, 2005), sustainable development in the context of cities and urban areas implies creating livable cities and urban centres that reconcile the conflicts among economic development, ecological preservation and intergenerational equity (Godschalk, 2004). Sustainability, thus, hinges on economic, ecological, social and cultural pillars, and forms a dynamic balancing by which society exploits the environment, create wealth and fulfill social needs (Stahel, 2011).

Land use planning is widely offered as an appropriate tool to drive sustainable development (Godschalk, 2004; UN-Habitat, 2009; Watson, 2009a; Roy, 2009; Bart, 2010). Critical to the success of land use planning creating such livable cities and urban centres is the lens through which planning is conceptualised and practiced (Godschalk, 2004). Campbell and Fainstein (2003) argue that a robust and appropriate underpinning theory is fundamental to planning since it always provides a basis for reference. Abukhater (2009) also notes that theory in general provides: 1. A frame of reference; 2. A system of knowledge organisation to clearly delineate the boundaries and parameters for each distinct subject purposely for constituting a knowledgebase for the development of future research and development of a field; and 3. …


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