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Settlement Location

  • Water supply: a close supply of fresh water was vital for drinking, cooking and washing.
  • Building materials: wood & stone were essential building materials. Their weight meant that people didn't want to move them too far.
  • Dry point: the site of the settlement needed to be dry to ensure stable land and to reduce the spread of disease through stagnant water.
  • Flat land: this makes building, transporting materials and farming the land much easier than if the land is sloped.
  • Fertile land: important for growing crops to support an increasing population.
  • Bridging point: settlements were often established at points at which rivers could be crossed. These were important trade routes and provided defence.
  • Defence: historically cities needed to protect themselves from other tribes and invasions. Sites that had good views, strategic rivers were popular.
Defensive settlement location
Figure 1.5.1: Defensive & trade location, Tarifa, Spain

Settlement Patterns

Traditionally there were three typical patterns that identified settlements:

  • Dispersed: agricultural communities where the houses are distributed over a wide area with their land/fields surrounding them.
  • Linear: routes of transportation such as railways, roads, canals, river often resulted in settlements spreading alongside them in a line due to opportunities for trade and transport.
  • Nucleated: these are more rounded in shape and grew around the intersection of trade routes (roads). They were often market places where farmers and other industries (leather, blacksmiths etc) could come to sell their goods.
dispersed settlement pattern
Figure 1.5.2: Dispersed settlement, Spain
Video 1.5.1: Dispersed settlement, Spain

Hierachies and Spheres of Influence

Settlement Hierachy

The higher up the hierachy the greater range of services and products are offered by settlements. Services such as international airports, universities and embassies are often not found in smaller settlements.

The larger settlements have a larger sphere of influence due the high-order goods and service found there.

Threshold population: the minimum number of people necessary before a particular good or service can be provided in an area


  1. Complete figure 1.5.3 opposite with 3 more examples for each row.
  2. Complete the table below with the type of service/goods they can offer (what can a town offer that a village cant etc)
Village Town City
Settlement hierachy diagram
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Figure 1.5.3: High and Low order products/services
Video 1.5.1: Settlement heirarchy

Concentric Ring Model

  • Designed by Burgess in 1924
  • Based on the city of Chicago.
  • Based on the concept that as the settlement grows the housing and environment improves.
  • This creates zones spreading out from the center.
  • Assumes an isotropic plane (that land & resources are equal in all directions), which in reality is often not the case.
Burges concentric ring land use model
Figure : Concentric Ring Model

The CBD: Central Business District

This is the central part (and often oldest) of the settlement. It has the highest land values and consequently the tallest buildings. Transport routes lead into the center.

The CBD also has the highest pedestrian traffic - workers and traditionally shoppers.

You would expect to find department stores, specialist shops, banks, offices in the CBD.

Many CBD areas are now pedestrianised in the shopping areas (no cars allowed).

Travelling outwards from the CBD

As you travel out from the CBD you generally pass through:

  • light manufacturing (the old industrial areas that have closed and been replaced with car showrooms, industrial estates and business parks)
  • Cheaper residential housing (often high-rise flats)
  • Middle cost housing (semi-detached, gardens etc)
  • Expensive larger housing.
  • This concentric ring model was based on Chicago and assumes that the land and resources are equal in all directions - often this isn’t the case.

Hoyt Sector Model

  • This model built on the concentric ring model to take into account the effect of transport routes.
  • Industry often locates along transport routes (it needs delivery of raw materials & the ability to transport the finished goods.
  • The low class residentail sector is linked to the manufacturing zone as it provides the workers ( these areas are likely to be noisey and have higher pollution rates from the industries).
  • Higher quality housing is likely to be located on the side of the city that the wind comes from - the pollution from industry is blown away from these areas.
Hoyt land use model
Figure : Hoyt Sector Model


  • This is the movement of people out of the cities to live in the surrounding areas.
  • Traffic congestion, lack of space, noise, higher crime rates and the movement of many jobs out of the CBD are pushing people out.
  • Rural areas and surrounding villages offer more pleasant environments, larger houses with gardens. Out of towwn supermarkets and retail parks mean that they are still close to facilites. Many people now work from home.
  • This movement to the edge if urban areas is creating urban sprawl and putting increased pressure on the rural-urban fringe
Counter urbanisation push and pull factors
Figure : Counter urbanisation Push & Pull factors


The movement of shops & offices out of the town center to outer locations

High rents, lack of space, lack of parking, traffic congestion linked with the reduced need to be physically close to many services due to the internet have led many shops and offices to locate around the edge of urban areas.

This coupled with counter-urbanisation has resulted in significant growth in the outer suburbs and rural urban fringe.


  1. List the push and pull factors behind the trend of decentralisation.
  2. What are the pull factors of shopping malls that attracted hordes of shoppers
  3. Read this article and watch video...... describe what is happening to many American malls
  4. What are the reasons for the decline of malls in America?
  5. What impact do you think internet shopping will have on the layout of urban areas?
Decentralisation push and pull factors
Figure : Decentralisation Push & Pull factors
Video: Rise of the Shopping Mall
Video: Decline of the US mall

Air Pollution: London, UK

Air pollution from industry and traffic is a major issue in many urban areas.

MEDCs have high car ownership and traffic congestion which results in many European cities failing to meet the European Union air quality regulations. Vehicles are often newer, more efficient and less polluting in MEDCs.

Developing countries have less vehicles/capita, but they are often older and more polluting. Rapid increases in car ownership have resulted in major traffic congestion and high levels of air pollution.

Sustainable Transport, London

Protecting the environment, Tfl


  1. Watch Videos.......and read the links above.
  2. Which polluting gas is fof most concern in London.
  3. What are the effects on humans of this type of pollution?
  4. What is the main cause of the air pollution?
  5. Describe the actions the Government taking to reduce the problem?
  6. London is expected to remain heavily polluted until which year?
Video: London Air Pollution
Video: London Cycle Hire and Lanes

Housing quality & crime: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rapid inward migration has led to housing shortages and the emergence of favelas (slums). These are areas of illegally built poor quality housing with little of no infrastructure.

Lack of sanitation, public services such as health and education facilities, electricity and tapped water lead to many social problems.

Rocinha is one of the oldest and largest favelas and has experienced improving conditions over the last decade.

Favela Life, BBC


Use the link above to answer the following;

  1. How many people live in Rocinha?
  2. Why is there not a defininte number of residents?
  3. Draw a simple map (or get one from the internet) showing where the Rocinha favela is.
  4. Describe the housing and social conditions in the favela.
  5. What is the average monthly income in the favela?
  6. What is pacification? Do you think its a good idea?

Solving Rio de Janiero housing problems

The rapid inward migration to Rio has resulted in many favelas (slums). A lack of available housing and the relative poverty of the migrants arriving have meant that authorities have to try different methods to deal with the problem:

  • Legalising the settlements: some of the favelas have been legalised, meaning that residents can feel more secure and invest in improving their situation.
  • Self help schemes: residents in many of the favelas have been provided with building materials such as breeze blocks and cement to improve the quality of their houses.
Video: Rio Favela Management
Video: Rocinha resident experience

Water Quality & Supply in Mexico City


  • Watch the video 7:
  • How many people are living in Mexico city?
  • How is water delivered to many of the residents in Mexico City?
  • What problems is this style of water delivery causing & why?
  • Why do Mexicans drink so much bottled water?
  • What % of the water is lost through leaks in the system?
  • How much water does Mexico city get from the underground aquifers?
  • Why is Mexico city slowly sinking?
  • How much has Mexico city sunk in the last half century?
  • What is rainwater harvesting and how could it help?
Video 7: Water quality in Mexico City

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