'Threat' of mega-cities recedes

The world is less dominated by mega-cities (10 million or more people) such as Mexico City, than many predicted only a few years ago, says a new report published by RICS.

Contrary to predictions, more people worldwide continue to live in rural than urban areas. The number of city dwellers is 270 million fewer than was predicted 20 years ago and many of the largest cities in the world are seeing their populations fall.

Despite this, many cities continue to grow at a rapid rate, which poses many different problems, such as overcrowding, poor sanitation and chaotic sprawl. The report says that, contrary to received wisdom, many cities are coping well with such growth and that urban living standards are generally higher than elsewhere. An example of such cities is Curitiba in Brazil, which has used land use legislation over the past 25 years to encourage high-density quality mixed use development. The key to success lies much more in good local government and planning, than it does in central government.

RICS president Peter Fall said:

“The mega-city has been perceived as a ticking bomb for decades. Our new research shows not only that the threat has been overstated, but that large urban areas can bring the benefits we all attribute to the best of a 21st Century life, providing decent healthcare, education and employment prospects. While there are still examples of chaos and squalor in oversized in urban areas, there are also working cities that demonstrate that with good government and planning we can get the balance right.”

Two other reports published at the same time also have key messages for the world:

Modern economies cannot function without land markets that work. This requires developed systems of ownership, land registration, ownership, valuation, planning and management. Many parts of the world lack these crucial ingredients, leading to stunted economies and misdirected resources

Preventing urban sprawl depends on the adoption of policies that ensure that new development takes place close to transport hubs. RICS has pioneered the concept of Transport Development Areas (TDAs) which offer the means for doing this. This new report shows that the TDA approach can be applied not just in the UK but anywhere in the world.

For more information please visit www.rics.org.uk.

(source: RICS)

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