Urban containment policy and exposure to natural hazards: Is there a connection?

R. J. Burby, A. C. Nelson, D. Parker, J. Handmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Planners throughout much of the past century have advocated containment of urban sprawl through regulatory restrictions that include growth boundaries, green belts and limits to utility extensions. Containment is widely practised in Europe and is a key component of 'smart growth' being advocated by a number of interest groups in the USA. In fact, it has already been incorporated in growth management policies in use in 73 US metropolitan areas. In this paper, we argue that containment may have a serious side-effect. It can lead to increased exposure to natural hazards and higher losses in disasters. However, we also show that measures are available to counter this effect, if planners recognize the threat and take vigorous steps to contain hazards, adjust building techniques or limit the development of potentially hazardous areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)475-490
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Environmental Planning and Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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