Peri-urbanisation is not urban sprawl

Eric Charmes, October 2015

Are peri-urbanisation and urban sprawl synonymous? This chapter sheds some light on the question. The information sheets collated here explain that peri-urbanisation most often results from the urbanisation of rural municipalities, not the spread of urban zones to immediately adjacent areas. It arises in response to a demand for housing, which is characterised by a search for areas that provide a quality of life different from that found in cities, including green spaces, rural and/or village atmosphere, etc. Peri-urbanisation, for its part, breathes new life into rural communities located near urban centres. The resulting fragmented urban fabric is a direct result of French administrative structure and the effects of decentralisation: the very numerous municipalities in France are free to define their own urban development policies. Using the model developed by Thierry Vilmin (2006) to explain residential urbanisation, the author stresses that peri-urbanisation does not progress inexorably in a straight line. It passes through phases of stagnation (control of urbanisation) and acceleration (openness to urbanisation) that are a function of the demographic and economic cycles of municipalities and the urban zone, as well as the desiderata of local populations and new arrivals, as illustrated by the case of Châteaufort (Ile-de-France region).

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