UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Evaluation of the effectiveness of the prior acquisition of sites for public use as a technique to guide the pattern of urban land development Stanley, Thomas Brock


The problem of comprehensive plan implementation is essentially one of guiding the many elements of urban land development in order to achieve a desired pattern of urban growth. To evaluate the potential value of one technique to provide a partial solution to the problem of guiding the pattern of urban land development it is hypothesized that the location of sites for public land uses influences the total pattern of urban land use and development and that the prior acquisition of sites for public use, in relation to a comprehensive community plan, is therefore an effective technique to guide the pattern of urban land development. A critical review of the available literature constitutes the methodology used to validate the hypothesis. This approach was necessitated because of limitations of time and resources; the apparent absence of specific research studies related directly to the hypothesis; the apparent non utilization of the technique by municipalities, and hence the absence of data for experimental, statistical, and case study analysis; and because of the difficulty of quantitative measurement of all the variables which would be required to verify the hypothesis. In addition to the review of the literature a proposed methodology is developed whereby the hypothesis may be tested. The first part of the review of the literature is concerned with the influence of public land uses on the pattern of urban land use and development and indicates that a hierarchy of factors exists which influences the pattern of urban land development, and that public land uses, while constituting a segment of this hierarchy, are near the bottom of it; that this degree of influence will not only be different in different cities but will be different over time in the same city; and that the locations of different public land uses do not have the same degree of influence, but where this influence is significant it will tend to intensify the pattern of development. The second part of the review of the literature is concerned with the economic, financial, political, and administrative feasibility of the proposed technique, for the majority of municipal governments and reveals that although this is an economically viable proposition nevertheless the financial, political, and administrative aspects are significant obstacles. In addition, it appears that only a few cities in the United States practise advance acquisition, and of these none do so with the purpose of guiding urban growth. The development of the methodology reveals that the hypothesis represents a complex cause and effect relationship that can be tested by experimental means using test and control areas, given the necessary time and resources. The basic limitation of the thesis is that it is restricted to a review of the literature and is therefore subject to the particular biases and prejudices of the authors whose works are used. There is also a scarcity of detailed objective data. Alternative potential approaches for substantiating the hypothesis, given sufficient time and resources, include an ex post facto case study, the use of interviews and questionnaires, and the use of statistical correlation. It is suggested that the application of the hypothesis to the field of urban redevelopment represents an additional approach whereby it could be verified. It is concluded that further research is needed in order to obtain a greater insight into, and an understanding of, the complex functional interrelationships existing between the pattern of urban land development and the factors that determine or influence it. An additional area for further research is in the testing of the hypothesis as it applies to urban redevelopment. The limitations and findings resulting from the review of the literature lead to the conclusion that the hypothesis as formulated cannot be verified on this basis. It is nevertheless concluded that if a municipal government were to utilize its full range of resources for making public policy decisions then it would be in an effective position to guide the pattern of urban land development. It is further concluded that the implications of the hypothesis be applied, by municipal governments, to the field of urban redevelopment.

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