Urban Environments

Key Terms

Term Definition

Brownfield site

Abandoned, derelict or under used industrial buildings and land that may be contaminated but have potential for redevelopment.


The movement of population away from inner urban areas to a new town, a new estate, a commuter town or a village on the edge or just beyond the city limits/rural?urban fringe.

Ecological footprint

The theoretical measurement of the amount of land and water a population requires to produce the resources it consumes and to absorb its waste under prevailing technology.


The development of activities to increase residential population densities within the existing built-up area of a city. This may include the redevelopment of vacant land, the refurbishment of housing and the development of new business enterprises.


A residential area within or just outside the boundaries of a city.


The outward growth of towns and cities to engulf surrounding villages and rural areas. This may result from the out-migration of population from the inner urban area to the suburbs or from inward rural-urban movement.

Sustainable urban management strategy

An approach to urban management that seeks to maintain and improve the quality of life for current and future urban dwellers. Aspects of management may be social (housing quality, crime), economic (jobs, income) or environmental (air, water, land, resources).


An increasing percentage of a country’s population comes to live in towns and cities. It may involve both rural?urban migration and natural increase.

Urban sprawl

The unplanned and uncontrolled physical expansion of an urban area into the surrounding countryside. It is closely linked to the process of suburbanization.

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